Scotland ended a 10-year wait for victory over France with an enterprising three-try victory at BT Murrayfield this afternoon.
Vern Cotter’s men recorded a second consecutive Championship victory by virtue of tries from man of the match Stuart Hogg, Duncan Taylor and Tim Visser, with Greig Laidlaw adding the rest of the points as the skipper marked his 50th cap with a 14-point haul.
It wasn’t all straightforward, though, and the visitors opened the scoring inside four minutes when skipper Guilhem Guirado went over after great work by Les Bleus’ three-quarters.
Gael Fickou made the initial break, and the ball was worked between the returning Wesley Fofana and Scott Spedding put skipper Guirado away to score.
The conversion was missed by Francois Trinh-Duc but the French should have extended their lead when the Montpellier man sliced a kick from straight in front to the left of the posts.
Scotland’s early problems were compounded when Finn Russell was forced off with a head injury just five minutes in – he failed to recover from the knock and Peter Horne was thrust into action early on.
Vern Cotter’s men grew into the match after their initial setbacks, though, and a pair of Greig Laidlaw penalties gave them the lead as the first quarter drew to a close.
France looked dangerous in attack, and dominated territory and possession inside the first half hour. Scotland were reliant on good scramble defending to keep Guy Noves’ side at bay.
The home side showed a glimpse of their attacking capabilities as Hogg cut open the defence to score his 10th Test try on 33 minutes.
The man of the match full-back exploited some weak tackling to dance over after strong carries by centre pairing Dunbar and Taylor put the hosts on the front foot.
Laidlaw couldn’t convert, but Cotter’s men led 11-5.
And they extended their lead just moments later when Taylor burst away after a quickly taken tap penalty from the skipper.
The Sarries man went the length and Laidlaw’s conversion extended the Scotland lead to 18-5.
France hit back, though, with Fickou diving over on the stroke of half-time after several phases close to the home line.
Trinh-Duc converted to cut the Scotland lead to six points after a pulsating opening 40 minutes.
Half-time: Scotland 18-12 France
The pace dropped as both sides battled for supremacy, and the home side used their dominance up front to work the half’s first points-scoring opportunity.
Another powerful scrum yielded a penalty about 55m out, and Hogg lashed the ball between the posts to extend the home lead to 21-12.
Machenaud reduced the arrears with a penalty of his own before the visitors passed up a chance to draw nearer with the Scots.
They elected to kick for touch from a penalty, and drove towards the line before losing the ball and allowing the hosts to clear.
Machenaud made no mistake from the tee shortly after to cut the gap to three points at 21-18.
A hugely enterprising Scotland performance was summed up with 15 minutes to go as Visser scored his 11th Test try.
Referee Jackson signalled penalty advantage with the Scots 5m out, so Laidlaw threw a speculative pass, and Hogg in turn slipped the ball over his head to the Quins man, who dived over out wide.
Laidlaw could not convert, but added a penalty late on to allow the hosts to enjoy the final few moments as they sealed a first victory over France for a decade.
Scotland: 15 Stuart Hogg, 14 Tommy Seymour, 13 Duncan Taylor, 12 Alex Dunbar, 11 Tim Visser, 10 Finn Russell, 9 Greig Laidlaw; 1 Al Dickinson, 2 Ross Ford, 3 WP Nel, 4 Richie Gray, 5 Jonny Gray, 6 John Barclay, 7 John Hardie, 8 Josh Strauss
Replacements: 16 Stuart McInall (on for Ford 66’), 17 Rory Sutherland, 18 Moray Low (on for Nel 72’), 19 Tim Swinson (on for R Gray 75’), 20 Ryan Wilson (on for Strauss 60’), 21 Sam Hidalgo-Clyne, 22 Peter Horne (on for Russell 5’), 23 Sean Lamont
France: 15 Scott Spedding, 14 Wesley Fofana, 13 Gael Fickou, 12 Maxime Mermoz, 11 Virimi Vakatawa, 10 Francois Trinh-Duc, 9 Maxime Macheneaud; 1 Jefferson Poirot, 2 Guilhem Guirado, 3 Rabah Slimani, 4 Alexandre Flanquart, 5 Yoann Maestri, 6 Wenceslas Lauret, 7 Yacouba Camara, 8 Damien Chouly
Replacements: 16 Camille Chat, 17 Uini Atonio (on for Poirot 60’), 18 Vincent Pelo (on for Slimani 60’) (by Poirot 64’), 19 Sebastien Vahaamahina (for Flanquart, 51’), 20 Loann Goujon, 21 Sebastien Bezy (on for Machenaud 75’), 22 Jules Plisson (on for Trinh-Duc 67’), 23 Maxime Medard (on for Mermoz 67’)