The French stayed in the match despite 13 handling errors, 12 turnovers and tighthead prop Uini Atonio’s sin-binning, during which France didn’t concede a point.
Atonio’s yellow card drew a dramatic end to the first half, too.
The Scots had turned down two kickable penalties. Then Atonio was sin-binned for a no-arms tackle while defending the tryline. Scotland elected to scrum again, forcing France to send in reserve prop Dorian Aldegheri and take off wing Louis Bielle-Biarrey. But the French scrum came up trumps as Scotland’s collapsed, and Berry called halftime.
France easily handled the first eight minutes of the second half a man short, but as soon as Atonio returned they lost workhorse captain and No. 8 Gregory Alldritt, who badly twisted his left leg while jackalling.
Captain Finn Russell’s fourth goalkick — he’s 100% off the tee in the first two rounds — sent Scotland 16-10 up heading into the last quarter but the home side sat back in a period when nobody took charge.
Out of nowhere, France struck. From ruck ball, 21-year-old replacement scrumhalf Nolann Le Garrec’s fast, flat pass gave 20-year-old Bielle-Biarrey time to chip a crowd of Scots, burn past them, regather and score. Thomas Ramos converted for France’s first lead and added a 77th-minute penalty from a dominant maul for good measure.
Scotland had late chances. Winger Kyle Rowe reeled off a 50-meter break that was stopped by Le Garrec and then the siege of France’s tryline.
But Scotland couldn’t finish off a match it led almost until the end.
“Above all, we didn’t give up,” Alldritt said. “We managed to score after their opener, we resisted well at the end of the first half, we didn’t give up for 80 minutes. It was very hard but the ending was magnificent in terms of emotion.”
England came from behind at Twickenham to subdue Wales 16-14 in Six Nations rugby on Saturday.
With two wins from two games, England moved to the top of the standings with defending champion Ireland having a game in hand against Italy on Sunday.
A rebuilding England was down at halftime for a second straight test after Italy last weekend and managed to prevail without looking compelling.
It climbed from 14-5 behind at halftime — it was down to 13 men at one point — by controlling the second half thanks to a better kicking game, defense, and a far more experienced bench. The sustained pressure earned England a try and two penalties to get in front for the first time in the 72nd minute and comfortably stay there as Wales ran out of ideas.