Bastareaud back with a brace

FRANCE coach Marc Lièvremont was reluctant to talk up comeback king Mathieu Bastareaud ahead of Ireland’s forthcoming trip to Paris, despite the Stade Francais man announcing his return to the international stage with a brace of tries yesterday.

Bastareaud – who made the vital interventions as France got their Six Nations campaign off to a perfect start – was playing his first Test since disgracing himself during his country’s summer tour of New Zealand.

The 21-year-old falsely claimed he had been assaulted following a night out in Wellington when in fact he had hit his head in a drunken fall.

The fallout led the centre to contemplate suicide but yesterday’s game saw him begin to repair his battered reputation with a fairytale return.

“We are very happy, obviously,” Lièvremont said of Bastareaud.

“We were happy for his performance but also the team performance.

“Mathieu was just like any other player today. The management certainly did not put any extra pressure on him.”

Lièvremont was particularly pleased with his pack, saying: “Yes, very much, because they put the Scottish scrummage under repeated pressure throughout the match.

“We’re perhaps disappointed that our vast dominance in the scrummage was not rewarded with more points.”

He added: “We need to improve our finishing but we also had to deal with a good, brave and enterprising Scottish team.”

Lièvremont insisted Scotland were a better side than in 2008.

“I admire their rugby but it’s true they lack a little bit of firepower,” he said.

“I feel that Scotland have made progress but today they were up against an even better French team than they were two years ago.”

France lost wing Aurelien Rougerie to injury inside five minutes but Lièvremont was hopeful he would recover in time for next week’s clash with Ireland in Paris.

He concluded: “Our ambition is to win the competition and we’re happy with our performance so far.”

Meanwhile, Andy Robinson accused his Scotland side of failing to respect the ball.

France could have scored even more points after completely dominating possession and territory.

But Robinson insisted it was a case of missed opportunities for his own side, saying: “The most significant difference was in that first half, the two chances that they had, they took beautifully.

“And when we had various opportunities, we didn’t hold onto the ball, particularly in the first half.

“But also I thought the French scramble defence, particularly through (Imanol) Harinordoquy, was very good.

“We needed to control the scoreboard in this game and we were unable to do that through turning over possession in our half during that first 30 minutes.

“That was not really respecting the ball, the ball being knocked out of our hands on four or five occasions.”

Scotland were demolished at the scrum at times, and Robinson believes his forwards will learn the lessons from this afternoon.

“We respect the French scrum and they’re a very good scrummaging side,” he said.

“Our young lads have learnt a lot today and certainly when we got the hit right, we had two or three powerful scrums.

“But we’ve got to get the consistency of that right.”

Scotland scorers: Pens: Paterson 3.

SCOTLAND: Paterson, T. Evans, M. Evans, Morrison, S. Lamont, Godman, Cusiter, Dickinson, Ford, Low, Hines, Kellock, Brown, Barclay, Beattie.

Replacements: Southwell for Godman (51), R. Lawson for Ford (65), Jacobsen for Low (51), Gray for Hines (66).

France scorers: Tries: Bastareaud 2. Cons: Parra. Pens: Parra 2.

FRANCE: Poitrenaud, Fall, Bastareaud, Jauzion, Rougerie, Trinh-Duc, Parra, Domingo, Servat, Mas, Faure, Pape, Dusautoir, Ouedraogo, Harinordoquy.

Replacements: Marty for Bastareaud (71), Clerc for Rougerie (4), Michalak for Parra (71), Szarzewski for Servat (50), Ducalcon for Mas (45), Pierre for Pape (65), Bonnaire for Dusautoir (66).

Referee: Nigel Owens (WRFU).

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