This is so delicately poised, thanks to Sean Lamont. The Hammer of the French last year, could he have scored the try that puts France on the back foot? The French need to expand this margin by 18 points. They certainly can do it, and when the gap was 11 points there seemed little doubt that they’d make the ground up, potentially by half time. But now? Who knows?
41 mins: Scotland have the ball and are just looking to push France back with driving forward play. Paterson breaks the line and looks through, but is called back for a forward pass. Was it off a French hand though? No, Sean Lamont’s hand was knocked, but it was his pass.
42 mins: Hines knocks on deliberately (apparently) and France go for the corner. But Scotland turn them over near the line and Paterson clears, though not to touch. La Marseillaise rings around the stadium.
45 mins: Well done Rory Lawson. Little kick ahead bobbles like a hand-grenade, and Marty picks it up only to be immediately panelled. Around the fringes of the Scottish ruck there is some ground to be made. Playing advantage, Chris Paterson knocks on. But it’s a French scrum. James Hamilton on fo the injured Scott Murray.
49 mins: While you get the feeling that France could score at any time, there’s a sense that Scotland have it in them to make this game competitive, never mind to help Ireland’s cause.
50 mins: Score at any time? Will now do? After some formidable first-up tackling from those in blue, it comes back towards the left and David Marty goes over. Beauxis adds the extras.
***FRANCE 27 SCOTLAND 14*** (Ireland +11)
53 mins: Rory Lamont on to replace Parks. Paterson moves to fly-half and the sub takes his place at number 15. The new fly-half concedes a penalty for illegal handling. France go to the corner and have a 5-metre Which comes to nothing.
55 mins: Heymans try for France after Scotland lose it in midfield. It’s a messy try, though, and France are bleeding every last drop out of their chances before putting them away. Beauxis can’t convert, though.
***FRANCE 32 SCOTLAND 14*** (Ireland +6)
60 mins: That should do it, you’d assume. With Sean Lamont sin-binned for being the brother of a player who made an illegal tackle (a truly bizarre situation). If Beauxis lands this, France move ahead of Ireland for the first time. And he does, and they do.
***FRANCE 39 SCOTLAND 14*** (France +1)
64 mins: Lawson goes off, Cusiter on. Come on – just one magical, maddening break could still knock the trophy from the French grasp.
67 mins: Beauxis has a penalty chance, just to widen the gap. He hits the post. Six Nations debutant Nikki Walker finds a prodigious touch with his clearing kick.
70 mins: Sean Lamont is back on. A full complement of Scots. Could they possibly still be the fly in the expensive, fashionable ointment?
72 mins: Scotland have a penalty, but don’t kick (and neither should they). Could they make the line? It looks fenced in right now. Safe hands, lads, safe hands… Agh! Turnover.
75 mins: Scotland lineout inside French 22. Cusiter secures ball off the loose throw. Scotland pound the fringes again. Penalty again. Scotland pushing and pushing AND PUSHING. It comes out wide… Euan Murray! The tight-head prop scores a try for Scotland! Paterson…off the post.
***FRANCE 39 SCOTLAND 19*** (Advantage: Ireland +4!)
78 mins: France need a try. Of any sort. A penalty is not enough. Converted or unconverted, a try would be.
80 mins: French 5 metre scrum, with time up. Christ.
France go over. But is it grounded correctly. Ask the TMO. You can’t see it being grounded. The TMO says it has been. France have won the Six Nations by the narrowest of margins. Well done to them, they came through in the clutch. Elvis Vermeulen scored the winning try. Heartbreaking.