Home Rugby Five Things We Learned From Scotland’s Cliffhanger Of A Win Over France

Five Things We Learned From Scotland’s Cliffhanger Of A Win Over France

Greig Laidlaw made a glorious return to the number 9 jersey and his nerveless kicking proved the difference as Scotland wore down a brave but under-resourced French side at Murrayfield. 

So what five things did we learn from the 32-26 victory?

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5. Greig Laidlaw is back to stay

Laidlaw was a picture of composure and consistency throughout the game, in contrast to the erratic Finn Russell outside him.

Laidlaw kicked eight from eight and should also be applauded for the way he and Hogg ground out the game in a sensible, mature and low-risk way.

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4. Teddy Thomas is the most dangerous back in the Six Nations

Two games, three memorable tries. Thomas was electrifying in the first half at Murrayfield, standing up Finn Russell and gassing Stuart Hogg for his first try, and then capitalising on a dead bounce to collect his own chip kick for his second.

He was sadly under-utilised in the second half as the tiring French errors and penalties began to rise. Thomas’ pace off the mark, swerve and balance are sensational, and France must find ways to give him the space to express himself.

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3. Scotland’s bench was crucial

The French wilted in the second half and their tiring starters were not helped by the men off the pine. Louis Picamoles and Baptiste Serin were busy but were outshone by the Scots’ replacements, in particular the two hulking players who seemed to have wandered in off the beach: Thor lookalike David Denton and Ben Toolis.

These two provided size and continuity and were able to frustrate the French into giving away crucial penalties at the breakdown.

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2. France had talent but not cohesion

It is now eight games on the trot without a win for Les Bleus, and there must be frustration that the hard defensive work is not reaping rewards on the scoreboard. Given the French penchant for mutiny, it may be be a fool’s game to advise that selection consistency is needed to get this team to gel.

In flanker Yacouba Camara and lock Arthur Iturria and the triumvirate of talent at scrum-half, with Serin, Machenaud and Dupont, they have some real class emerging, but it seems the team is relying more on individual flashes of brilliance à la Teddy Thomas than cohesive team strategy at present.

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1. Is Finn Russell the Quade Cooper of Scottish rugby?

For the second Test running, Russell had some inspired flashes putting his runners into gaps, but was also prone to a growing number of basic errors like his two missed touch-finders on penalty punts – crimes committed mainly due to being over-ambitious.

Will he be able to fulfil his obvious potential or will he be the inconsistent might-have-been like the aforementioned Wallaby?

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