Guinness Six Nations
Townsend admits Scotland just not good enough
A dejected Blair Kinghorn troops off the pitch after a difficult afternoon in Paris (pic: SNS Group)
France 27 Scotland 10
Stade de France
Gregor Townsend admitted Scotland’s performance was just not good enough as the wait for a first victory on French soil this century goes on after another fruitless Six Nations trip to Paris.
The Scots came up short again as they looked to respond to the dispiriting home defeat to Ireland last time out
Minus the star duo of Finn Russell and Stuart Hogg, the visitors enjoyed enough possession, particularly in the second half. However, they didn’t have enough creativity to carve out that illusive win.
Handicapped by too many errors and not being clinical enough is a familiar story for the Scots in the Six Nations this season.
They now have their work cut out to finish the championship on a high with games against Wales and England remaining.
Not since 1999 has Scotland savoured the taste of victory in the French capital. And despite their industry, Townsend’s depleted side never really competed well enough at set-pieces to look like getting the better of a vastly-improved home team.
Romain Ntamack, Yoann Huget and Gregor Alldritt (2) all went over for scoring efforts. Ali Price touched down for nothing more than a consolation in the closing minutes.
The defeat could have been worse, France having three tries rules out by the TMO.
“That navy blue jersey should demand of you a much better performance and we have to have that in the Six Nations because the teams are so good,” said Townsend.
“We’ll focus on ourselves and look at areas where we obviously under-performed. But France played well.
“They’re a dangerous side. The quality of the teams we play against mean that if we don’t bring our best game we are going to lose.
“We didn’t bring the energy that the French team brought, which is really disappointing because we bring that every time we play.
“They’re excellent players and we just seemed to be a couple of steps behind France early on. We pride ourselves on our energy and our fitness – we showed that in the last 10, 15 minutes. But we need to show that from the beginning.
“It’s not good enough at this level to play in fits and starts.”
France: 15-Ramos, 14-Penaud, 13-Bastareaud, 12-Fickou, 11-Huget, 10-Ntamack, 9-Dupont; 1-Poirot, 2-Guirado (captain), 3-Bamba, 4-Vahaamahina, 5-Lambey, 6-Lauret, 7-Iturria, 8-Picamoles.
Replacements: 16-Chat (for Guirado, 70), 17-Falgoux (for Poirot, 70), 18-Aldegheri (for Bamba, 69), 19-Willemse (for Lambey, 65), 20-Alldritt (for Picamoles, 69), 21-Serin (for Dupont, 69), 22-Belleau (for Ntamack, 76), 23-Medard (for Ramos, 69)
Scotland: 15-Kinghorn, 14-Seymour, 13-Grigg, 12-Johnson, 11-Maitland, 10-Horne, 9-Laidlaw (captain); 1-Dell, 2-McInally, 3-Berghan, 4-Gilchrist, 5-Gray, 6-Bradbury, 7-Ritchie 8-Strauss.
Replacements: 16-Brown (for McInally, 64), 17-Allan (for Dell, 64), 18-Fagerson (for Berghan, 64, 19-Toolis (for Gray, 55), 20-Graham (for Strauss, 64), 21-Price (for Laidlaw, 64), 22-Hastings (for Horne, 44, for Johnson 53), 23-Graham (for Maitland, 64).
France: Tries – Ntamack, Huget, Alldritt (2); Conversions – Ramos, Belleau; Penalties – Ramos.
Scotland: Tries – Price; Conversions – Hastings; Penalties – Laidlaw.
Italy 16 Ireland 26
Irish eyes were eventually smiling in Rome but the visitors made hard work of getting the better of a battling home side.
Trailing 16-12 at half-time, Joe Schmidt’s outfit looked in real danger of slipping to a shock defeat.
However, a much-improved display after the break saw the defending champions run up 14 points without reply to keep alive their hopes of more championship success.
Quinn Roux, Jacob Stockdale, Keith Earls and Conor Murray all touched down as Ireland gained a bonus point which looked beyond them at times.
“The bottom line is the win and the bonus point,” Schmidt reflected after seeing Ireland rise to third in the table.
“We will go home happy with the points haul but not the performance. Credit to Italy, they made it very tough at the ruck area and put us under pressure.
“Our performance was summed-up in the last play, where Jacob Stockdale does brilliantly to get out of our half but then we are one pass from scoring and it goes to ground. We have to be more accurate than that.”
Italy: Tries – Padovani, Morisi; Penalties – Allan (2).
Ireland: Tries – Roux, Stockdale, Earls, Murray; Conversions – Sexton, Murray (2).
Wales 21 England 13
Wales stayed on course for their first Grand Slam since 2012 after a rousing second-half display sunk England’s dreams of completing their own clean sweep.
With the visitors ahead 10-3 at the interval, things had looked ominous for Warren Gatland’s men.
However, their record at home speaks for itself and a rejuvenated group of red shirts asserted their authority after the break.
Cory Hill went over 13 minutes from time to edge the hosts ahead and when Josh Adams crossed in the closing moments the roar from inside the Principality Stadium could well have been heard throughout the valleys.
They have now won nine straight Tests at home.
“We created lots of problems for ourselves in the first half but we were much better in the second,” said Gatland.
“All that pain and hard work last week in training paid dividends, in the second half tactically we were really good.
“It’s a pretty special group of boys at the moment in fact a brilliant group at the moment.”
Wales take on Scotland at Murrayfield in two weeks’ time before their final match against Ireland in Cardiff.
Wales: Tries – Hill, Adams; Conversions – Biggar; Penalties – Anscombe (3).
England: Tries – Curry; Conversion – Farrell; Penalties – Farrell (2).