EDINBURGH, Scotland (AP) — Scotland reveled in its Murrayfield comfort zone to overcome France 17-14 on Saturday and restore some pride after the humiliation in Nice last weekend.
The Scots took the lead for the first time with a quarter to go when center Chris Harris hit the line at speed and barged past a couple of defenders to score. Greig Laidlaw converted, and the home side was inspired from being in front and held on.
While their intensity and defense was much improved after losing to France 32-3 a week ago, the Scots’ effort in the Rugby World Cup warmup was disjointed and full of basic errors.
And for the third test in a row, they conceded within two minutes of kickoff.
Midfielder Peter Horne was the culprit when he forced a pass under pressure towards fullback Stuart Hogg, which was picked off by French wing Damian Penaud, who galloped home unchallenged to the posts.
A Laidlaw penalty for an offside offense put Scotland on the board as it struggled to click as an attacking force and was hesitant in defense.
Winger Tommy Seymour came off because of a knock to the head and there was another major injury concern when lock Sam Skinner hobbled off midway through the second half with what looked like a knee injury.
France, on the other hand, was far more comfortable on and off the ball, and extended its lead to 14-3 on 26 minutes when flyhalf Finn Russell failed to gather a high ball. From the turnover, center Sofiane Guitoune swept outside flanker Ryan Wilson before sending Penaud in for his second try.
Scotland struck back just before halftime when fullback Thomas Ramos directed a hospital pass at Penaud on his own 22. Harris made the hit, wing Blair Kinghorn scooped up the loose ball, and Harris got straight back into the game to collect Kinghorn’s offload. The center was pulled down just short of the line, but Scotland recycled quickly. Russell floated a high miss-out pass to send wing Sean Maitland into the left corner.
France seemed to become bored of the proceedings in the second half, and Murrayfield came back to life an hour in when Hogg sent a long kick up the right touchline and Kinghorn did well to close down the French as they tried to clear the danger. A few minutes later, Harris blasted through their lines to score under the crossbar.
“The collective effort, mindset, commitment was there in the jersey, that was really pleasing,” Scotland coach Gregor Townsend said. “There’s a lot to work on, we know that, but that was more like what I thought (the warmup tests) would be.”
Scotland goes next weekend to Tbilisi, where Georgia awaits, while France hosts Italy next Friday.