France keep Grand Slam hopes alive

France (8/11 Grand Slam Winner) remain on track to seal a Six Nations Grand Slam after powering to a bonus-point victory over Scotland at Murrayfield on Saturday.

Les Bleus made a blistering start in Edinburgh as Paul Willemse and Yoram Moefana crossed inside the opening 13 minutes to set to tempo.

Scotland did manage to respond through Rory Darge, who scored on his debut, although France ensured the hosts went in trailing by nine at the break when Gael Fickou went over.

It took just two minutes of second-half action for France to pull further clear when Jonathan Danty benefitted from a fortuitous bounce.

France wing Damian Penaud put the game to bed when he plunged over twice before Duhan van der Merwe reduced the deficit to 36-17 with a final-minute score.

Fabien Galthie’s men head to Cardiff to take on Wales in two weeks with a first title in 12 years now firmly in their sights, while Scotland travel to Italy.

Team assistant Raphael Ibanez insists France aren’t getting carried away with their performances thus far and feels Wales will pose a “big challenge”.

Ibanez said: “We just have to stay focused on ourselves, we know we still have room for improvement. It’s not because we won the first three games (that we are getting carried away). In two weeks it will be another big challenge. Every game is different.”

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Saturday’s late game saw England triumph 23-19 but Eddie Jones’ (pictured) men had to survive a second-half comeback to claim a fifth successive home Six Nations win over Wales.

England led 12-0 at the end of the first half thanks to the boost of Marcus Smith before Alex Dombrandt crossed in the opening minutes of the second period.

Wales’ response started when Josh Adams raced in and Nick Tompkins added a second score to make it 17-12 with just under 20 minutes left to play.

A pair of Smith penalties earned the hosts some breathing space at Twicenham but Kieran Hardy’s final minute try kept England on their toes until the final whistle.

Smith said on ITV: “We know how proud the Welsh team is and we knew they were going to come back. We stuck at it as a team but we got the job done in the end.

“The forward pack put us on the front foot really nicely. Rands [scrum-half Harry Randall] lifted the speed round the ruck.

“We knew they were going to have their passion. Luckily we built enough of a lead. We’ll look at the second half and try to build on that going into Ireland [in round four].”

There’s further action to come in the Six Nations on Sunday when Ireland welcome Italy to the Avia Stadium in Dublin at 15:00 (Match Betting – Ireland 1/150, draw 80/1, Italy 66/1).

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Author: Paula Allen