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Scotland 16-20 France: ‘Wasteful hosts left confused by late TMO drama’



It was a Test riddled with errors, a game that featured French-inspired games of no-chase kick tennis – “a blight on rugby” as Townsend called it.

The second half was a near-total dud, a dreary experience that put Murrayfield to sleep until that unpleasant wake-up call at the end. Scotland had enough ball and enough territory to build a handsome enough lead but they didn’t do it. They lived to regret it.

Scotland scored a terrific try after seven minutes to go 7-0 ahead, a thing of beauty involving Duhan van der Merwe, Harry Paterson, Huw Jones and then Ben White who ran away to the line. Paterson, aged 22 and with only eight senior games under his belt with one of them lasting just nine minutes, made an unexpected debut.

Informed at 09:00 that Kyle Steyn’s wife was about to go into labour and told at 10:00 that Steyn was on his way to the maternity hospital, Paterson was in at 15. Wet day, a vengeful France, a heaving Murrayfield and precious little experience. Easy.

On a grim day, Paterson was cool in the maelstrom. “One of the best Scotland debuts I’ve ever seen” was how his coach summed it up. Not many would have disagreed.

So Scotland were on their way with a seven-point lead and an opponent that was, frankly, all over the place. Midway through the opening half they had a line-out stolen for the first – but not the last – time. Then they missed touch with a penalty. Thomas Ramos fumbled one forward. Then their discipline went to pot. They conceded successive penalties, culminating with Russell making it 10-3, then 13-3.

We hoped that two of the great attacking wings of the modern game – Damian Penaud and Duhan van der Merwe – would light up the place, but they hardly featured. The Ferraris never got ball because the dumptrucks were too busy banging into each other.

The great Gael Fickou scored but there was nothing else from France. They checked Scotland’s momentum with incessant messing at the breakdown, which quickly became rugby’s Wild West. The game needed a sheriff to sort it all out. Berry didn’t fit the bill.

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