Scotland v France: Gregor Townsend gives his view on narrow defeat, Jonny Gray incident and Vakatawa try

Gregor Townsend was left to rue a lapse of concentration as France edged out Scotland in a tight Autumn Nations Cup clash at BT Murrayfield.

France players celebrate Virimi Vakatawa's try against Scotland. Picture: Ross Parker / SNS
France players celebrate Virimi Vakatawa's try against Scotland. Picture: Ross Parker / SNS

The home side switched off briefly at a scrum early in the second half and the visitors exploited it ruthlessly, with winger Vincent Rattez coming inside to play in the excellent Virimi Vakatawa for the only try of the game.

France’s 22-15 victory puts them in the driving seat to reach the Nations Cup final, with a final Group B match to come against Italy.

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Scotland have completed their pool fixtures and will likely now go into the third-place play-off, probably against Ireland in Dublin a week on Saturday.

Scotland head coach Gregor Townsend. Picture: Ross Parker / SNS

“We know they’ve got great individuals, and that there were times we would be broken today,” said Townsend.

“It’s very hard from a scrum if you’re broken. We pride ourselves on our set-piece defence but they were very good there.

“It’s a reminder that, if you switch off for a second, a team like France will make you pay.”

The game went by in a flurry of penalties but chances were scarce. Duncan Weir kicked five from five for Scotland who had pause to wonder about some of referee Wayne Barnes’ decisions.

The English official had a long look at an incident in the first half in which France prop Camille Chat led with his arm as he took the ball into a Jonny Gray tackle. Repeated viewing failed to persuade Barnes to punish Chat and Townsend was reluctant to say too much about the incident, although he was relieved Gray escaped without injury.

“I don’t really have a view on it,” said the Scotland coach. “It obviously warranted looking at but Wayne is an experienced official. He called it as nothing more than a carry with the arm bracing himself against contact.

“Fortunately there was no injury. That’s all that can be said about that incident.”

Townsend felt one or two other decisions could have gone Scotland's way.

“We adapted better in the second half and I felt we were unlucky not to get a couple of penalties. One against Oli Kebble was really harsh.

“But they had upper hand there and got very good yards in the maul a couple of times. We’ll look at what we can improve defensively but recognise France are one of the best packs around just now. They showed that today.”

Scotland winger Blair Kinghorn was sent to the hospital for an X-ray on his finger which could be broken.

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