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France thrash Scots and gain edge over England

EDINBURGH, March 21 (AFP) – Two late tries from Toulouse centre Yannick Jauzion helped France move to within one match of a Six Nations Grand Slam with a 31-0 thrashing of a demoralised Scotland here on Sunday.

Victory over England at the Stade de France next weekend will secure the Grand Slam but France’s margin of victory here also means they could also lose narrowly and still win the tournament.

“It was very hard in the beginning but we played with a lot of patience and the tries are the result of what all the team achieved,” said Jauzion who is now planning revenge on England for last year’s World Cup semi-final defeat.

“We want to beat England because we have a very bad memory of what happened in the past – I mean the World Cup. I hope we can beat them many times.”

In the absence of first-choice scrum-half Jean-Baptiste Elissalde and influential back row forward Imanol Harinordoquy, the French managed only occasional flashes of fluency in attack.

But they were always in control after a seventh-minute try by flanker Olivier Magne snuffed out a promisingly spirited opening by the Scots.

Elissalde’s replacement Dimitri Yachvili then put the match beyond reach with four penalties before Jauzion burst through the Scottish midfield to touchdown under the posts twice in the last quarter of an hour to stretch the margin.

The win leaves France with a positive points difference of 81 from their four matches against 67 from England.

While France can look forward to gaining revenge for their World Cup semi-final defeat by Clive Woodward’s men, the Scots now face the prospect of their first wooden spoon since 1994 and their first tournament whitewash since 1985.

After another unconvincing display, coach Matt Williams will have a tough time in raising morale in in time for next weekend’s meeting with Ireland, who could themselves still win the tournament, in Dublin.

Scotland had opened with an encouraging period of territorial dominance. But any illusions the Murrayfield crowd harboured of keeping the French under sustained pressure were shattered when Magne scored from the visitors’ first meaningful foray upfield.

Number eight Simon Taylor handed out the invitation by losing possession just inside his own half and France clinically exploited both the initial error and the gaps that suddenly appeared in Scotland’s defence.

A sweeping crossfield move was finished off by Magne touching down in the left-hand corner.

Yachvili failed to convert but made no mistake with a 15th-minute penalty from straight in front of the posts.

By that stage, the scale of the task facing the Scots had become apparent and a reckless tackle by Derek Lee on Yachvili as he leapt for a high ball did the home side’s cause no favours.

Scotland managed to hold out with 14 men for the ten minutes their full-back Derrick Lee spent in the sin-bin but were fortunate not to concede a second try seconds after his re-entry.

French full-back Nicolas Brusque’s cute angled kick along the ground put Pepito Elhorga over in the right-hand corner but the Agen winger failed to ground the awkwardly bouncing ball.

Yachvili’s second penalty stretched the French lead to 11-0 at half-time.

Two more penalties were guided over by the left boot of the Biarritz scrum-half in the first ten minutes of the second half before Jauzion made his class count in the closing stages.


                                                              Subject: France news