first_imgScotland knew they would probably never get as good an opportunity to beat France than the one which presented itself on Sunday afternoon, and so it proved.It had been ten long years since Sean Lamont’s try-double helped Frank Hadden’s team to a narrow win in February 2006, and despite some close calls in recent years, there was quiet confidence that Vern Cotter’s men could finally end the wait this time around.Important victoryVern Cotter’s men won relatively comfortable in the end, but the margin of victory really could have been a lot closer had the French landed their early kicks at goal. Maxime Machenaud eventually took over the kicking duties from the hapless Francois Trinh-Duc, but even the influential Racing 92 scrum-half could not claw back the lead that Laidlaw’s men had accumulated. Despite going behind after only four minutes to a well-worked try from hooker Guilhem Guirado, Scotland retained their game plan and composure and struck back with two penalties from Laidlaw and then extended their lead after a fine try from man of the match Stuart Hogg after some excellent play from John Hardie and Peter Horne, who had replaced Finn Russell at stand-off after only a few minutes.Scotland’s Duncan Taylor with the try. SNS The capacity crowd at Murrayfield could scarcely believe what happened shortly after when, instead of opting to clear their lines from a penalty in their own 22, centre Duncan Taylor tapped to himself and ran nearly half the length of the field to touch down in the corner. Although Laidlaw missed the conversion, the crowd sensed that this was to be Scotland’s afternoon.France hit back through centre Gael Fickou however, and the deficit was reduced to a mere six points at the interval.Stuart Hogg was voted man of the match against France. SNS Two Scotland tries in a Six Nations match at Murrayfield are a rarity, but the third try of the afternoon is the one that will be remembered for years to come by all who witnessed it. Referee Glen Jackson had awarded the home side a penalty which was duly kicked to the corner, and the Scots began their first assault of the second half on the French line. Richie Gray went close before the ball was spun wide as fullback Hogg jumped up and effortlessly flicked the ball behind him to find winger Tim Visser who raced over in the corner. The home crowd roared and the French were stunned.No more errorsAgainst champions England last month Scotland made multiple errors and lost. At Murrayfield they made only three throughout the entire match, and it goes to show that if you cut out the basic mistakes at international level, opportunities come and Vern Cotter’s side certainly took theirs today in what was surely one of the best games of the tournament.France did rally towards the end and probably should have had a third of their own, but Sebastien Bezy’s pass to Fickou was ruled to be forward and Scotland cleared their lines and held on for their first win over France in a decade and their first back-to-back wins since 2013.Cotter relievedThe victory was also Vern Cotter’s first home win in the tournament and the reserved Kiwi let a wry smile creep onto his face after the final whistle.He said: “That was a tough game. We lost our play-maker, Finn Russell, early but kept our shape and built well from an early lead.“Our set-piece was good and they showed character. They are good ingredients if you want to get somewhere in the game,” he continued, looking ahead to next Saturday’s clash with an Irish side in transition.Greig Laidlaw salutes the fans. SNS Captain Laidlaw was also a relieved man at full time, and paid tribute to the long-suffering home supporters with his appraisal of events at full time.“This was the reason we pull on the jersey”, the scrum-half said. “It wasn’t about individuals and we were as one with the crowd here at Murrayfield,” he continued.Turning point for ScotlandSunday’s win felt like a turning point in Scottish rugby. Yes, there had been historic wins over the likes of England in France in the last ten years, but they felt more like one-offs and were often followed up by a deflating loss to Italy or Ireland. The importance of this win over a physically imposing French side has confirmed what many of us have believed for some time now; that all it would take would be a single victory to set this young and exciting team on their way.The likes of Jonny Gray, Alex Dunbar, WP Nel, Josh Strauss and Tommy Seymour had not experienced a home Six Nations win before Sunday, but these are to be the key players that will help take Scotland towards the next World Cup in Japan in 2019 and now have momentum and confidence on their side.Destination DublinNext weekend’s trip to Dublin should not hold any fear for this side and despite Ireland’s emphatic 50-point victory over a poor Italy side on Saturday.Joe Schmidt’s side is a team in transition, missing talismen like Paul O’Connell who retired after the world cup, and Peter O’Mahoney, among others.A third win next Saturday night at the Aviva Stadium would not only mark the first time in a decade that Scotland has won three Six Nations matches, but would finally confirm that this is indeed a Scotland team that can achieve something special in the coming years.More to comeA summer tour of ever-improving Japan awaits Cotter’s team before winnable autumn clashes with Australia, Argentina and Georgia.Suddenly, what looked like being yet another season of doom and gloom for Scottish rugby, now holds so much promise.last_img read more