A LATE NOA NAKAITACI try snatched a 19-16 win for France over Scotland in a final World Cup warm-up test at the Stade de France on Saturday.
Two weeks before the tournament gets underway in England, the French were pushed hard by the Scots who were looking for their first win in Paris in 16 years.
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But the hosts needed 73 minutes to get past a tenacious Scotland who six months ago were the recipients of the Six Nations Wooden Spoon.
Frederic Michalak kicked three penalites, with Scott Spedding adding a fourth for the French and Greig Laidlaw accounting for Scotland’s three penalties. He also converted a 61st-minute Tommy Seymour try.
Scotland’s Tommy Seymour, right, is tackled by Wesley Fofana who was later forced off with injury. Source: Christophe Ena/AP/Press Association Images
Laidlaw kicked the visitors to a half-time lead after France’s Wesley Fofana had a try disallowed.
“It was important to win this match,” said France coach Philippe Saint-Andre.
Saint-Andre’s side dominated in many aspects including fitness but were hit with centre Fofana and lock Pascal Pape both going off injured.
Fofana, 27, picked up a thigh injury after 35 minutes and was replaced by Alexandre Dumoulin while 34-year-old Pape limped off with a knee knock after 53 minutes.
France’s Yoann Huget makes a break against the Scots. Source: Christophe Ena/AP/Press Association Images
Laidlaw put the first points on the board with a 45-metre penalty but Vern Cotter’s side made a string of handling errors.
Mathieu Bastareaud set up Michalak to draw level with a penalty before another Laidlaw kick put Scotland ahead.
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Laidlaw and Michalak then traded penalties either side of half-time with Scotland leading 9-6 at the break.
The hosts took the lead for the first time after 58 minutes when Spedding sent over a penalty from inside his own half.
But Laidlaw struck again to put the Scots back in front on 62 minutes as he took advantage of cracks in the French defence.
Morgan Parra directs a French scrum during yesterday’s friendly in St. Denis. Source: Christophe Ena/AP/Press Association Images
The French pushed forward and Scotland were left a man down for the final 10 minutes when David Denton was sin-binned for a foul on Bastareaud.
And Clermont wing Nakaitaci combined with Castres fly-half Remi Tales before powering over for the winner on 73 minutes which substitute Morgan Parra converted.
Saint-Andre’s side open their World Cup campaign against Italy on September 19 with Scotland starting against Japan in Gloucester on September 23.
Scotland coach Vern Cotter said there was great disappointed at coming so close.
“The guys really wanted to win, it’s been several years now that we haven’t managed to do that here. There is still a lot of work to do but the team showed good spirit this evening, conditions were difficult with rain. I think they (France) are stronger than during the Six Nations and if they continue like that they’ll be difficult to play (in the World Cup).”
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