British & Irish Lions

Maitland double ends 14-man France's Grand Slam hopes

Sean Maitland (AFP)
Sean Maitland (AFP)

Sean Maitland scored twice as Scotland ended France's Six Nations Grand Slam hopes with a shock 28-17 victory on Sunday after French prop Mohamed Haouas was sent off for punching.

As it happened | Scotland v France

Adam Hastings scored either side of Haouas' 37th-minute moment of madness when he hit the hosts' Jamie Ritchie.

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The defeat leaves France alongside England on 13 points at the top of the table but they will not be able to clinch the title next Saturday against Ireland in Paris.

Ireland's match against Italy, scheduled for Saturday, and England's trip to Rome next weekend have been postponed due to the spread of the coronavirus.

"It's really disappointing. We know at this level you cannot react badly, this is what he did, and obviously we'll have a long talk and hopefully he can improve in that department," France team manager Raphael Ibanez told the BBC.

"I don't think the Grand Slam weighed heavily on the team. It's down to Scotland, they played with a lot of intensity. And on our side, things went totally the opposite to how we wanted," he added.

Scotland coach Gregor Townsend said the red-card had been a key moment.

"If you punch in the face in this game you get red carded," he said. "It was a big moment for them, a big moment for us. I was really pleased that we made the most of that in the next three minutes."

Sunday's game at Murrayfield went ahead despite the women's Six Nations match between the two countries on Saturday in Glasgow being called off after a member of Scotland's squad tested positive for the virus.

The strength of the swirling wind inside a sold-out Murrayfield was shown within the first three minutes as Romain Ntamack's long-range penalty effort was pushed wide by the breeze.

Edinburgh's vocal crowd were up off their feet less than a minute later when visitors' flanker Francois Cros was yellow-carded for a dangerous tackle on the hosts' Grant Gilchrist.

Things went from bad to worse for Les Bleus after seven minutes as Ntamack dropped a high kick and left the field for a head injury assessment following Sam Johnson's physical tackle.

Ntamack failed his examinations and was replaced by the blonde-haired Matthieu Jalibert.

After the event-filled opening 10 minutes Scotland flyhalf Hastings opened the scoring with two penalties.

The thousands of French fans rediscovered their voice after an opening half an hour under the cosh as Antoine Dupont spotted Scotland winger Blair Kinghorn rushing up wide out of the defensive line.

In-form Dupont then hit a perfectly delicate cross-kick for Damian Penaud and the Clermont winger, who had replaced the dropped Teddy Thomas on the right wing, scored his fifth Test try.

Jalibert was successful with the touchline conversion, his first test from the tee, and the visitors led 7-6 after 34 minutes.

Scotland responded by advancing into French territory before a scuffle broke out near the away side's posts which was sparked by Jamie Ritchie and French pair Gael Fickou and Haouas.

The incident was replayed on the two big screens and Scottish fans called for a red card, with tighthead prop Haouas duly sent off on just his fourth Test appearance.

Hastings reclaimed the advantage with the resulting penalty as the home side led 9-7 with three minutes of the first half to play. Haouas' absence was felt immediately as Scotland returned to French territory.

Captain Stuart Hogg found centre Johnson out wide who made the most of Jalibert's poor defensive read and Maitland crossed in the corner.

Hastings missed the difficult conversion but his side led 14-7 at the break.

Maitland crossed for his second try of the match after 45 minutes after Hamish Watson won a ruck penalty under his own posts.

Les Bleus' comeback hopes were short-lived as a rainbow appeared above 95-year-old Murrayfield and substitute hooker Stuart McInally scored his eighth try in 36 Tests as the ball spilled from a lineout that McInally had thrown himself.

Despite a late Charles Ollivon try, the captain's fourth in as many games, French coach Fabien Galthie's main worry post-match will be having seen the influential Dupont leave the field with a shoulder injury four minutes from time.

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