Six Nations: Scots lick their wounds after defeat by France

Despair for replacement scrum-half Ali Price as the French players celebrate.''Picture: Ian Rutherford
Despair for replacement scrum-half Ali Price as the French players celebrate.''Picture: Ian Rutherford
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Vern Cotter expressed frustration last night as Scotland failed to end their 18-year wait for a win in Paris and had to settle for a losing bonus point.

France pulled away late on to win 22-16 in an intensely physical match which left the Scots assessing a series of injuries. Skipper Greig Laidlaw was forced off after 25 minutes with an ankle problem and there were match-ending head knocks for flankers John Barclay and John Hardie and hooker Fraser Brown.

In the post-match conference, 
Cotter, pictured, sought to play down the bizarre incident which saw 
stand-off Finn Russell rush an early second-half conversion, just after the Scots had gone ahead 16-13, and miss it from in front of the posts as the ball toppled off the kicking tee. There were suggestions he was told to hurry the attempt to scupper any possibility of the Tim Swinson try going to a video
review.

The Scotland coach said he was yet to speak to Russell about what happened and added: “If there were only two points in the game I might be more interested in what went wrong but there wasn’t so it’s not a priority.”

Cotter added: “The game was a bit of a stop-start affair. We just couldn’t get rhythm into our attack and when we scored for the first try it was well-constructed but, at times, we seemed to lose shape. Credit to the French, they came at us, applied pressure and were very physical.

“The breakdown was tough, so I suppose one point is better than no points. But we’re not going to be satisfied with a loss when we probably could have won. We’ll analyse it before the next game. The players 
will be looking forward to getting out on the pitch at BT Murrayfield.”

Scotland won the try count 2-1 
with Stuart Hogg and Tim Swinson scoring in either half but France took the four points thanks to a Gael Fickou
score and 17 points from the boot of stand-off Camille Lopez.

After going in just 13-11 down at the break, the Scots forged ahead when sub Swinson surged over under the posts but then came that horrible conversion moment as Russell screwed the ball beneath the bar.

France levelled almost immediately through the boot of Lopez and 
then pulled away in the last ten 
minutes with another couple of 
penalties as the Scots succumbed to the home side’s power and set-piece strength.

Scotland are due to release a medical bulletin today and Cotter added: “Greig’s hurt his ankle so we’ll have to wait and see how bad it is. The other players who came off with head injuries will go through the protocols and we’ll find out about everyone who got banged up today.”