IRB Nations Cup
Scotland 'A' and France 'A' set for showdown
June 17, 2009

France 'A' and Scotland 'A' will battle for the IRB Nations Cup this Sunday after both sides recorded their second wins in Bucharest, Romania. Both sides sit joint-top of the pool after two games with the Scots ahead on superior points difference. Despite there being six teams in the group, each side only plays three games, which sets up Sunday's clash as a winner-takes-all encounter.

Scotland's second win came against Uruguay as they won 27-3 but France's route to Sunday's decider was more complicated as they threw away a 17-point lead against the hosts but eventually beat Romania 20-16. Scotland's clash with the Uruguayans was played in blistering heat in Bucharest and there were occasional water-breaks as both teams struggled in the early stages.

The South Americans had the better of the opening phases and mounted a few threatening attacks but once the Scots had their first real attack Simon Webster went over in the corner to score their first try after 20 minutes. Los Teros, who were more accustomed to conditions than their counterparts, put together some effective attacks thanks to their half-back pairing of Juan Campomar, the scrum half, and Jeronimo Etcheverry. Scotland had to dig deep defensively and their effort and some poor decision making from Los Teros kept the South Americans at bay.

Newly appointed head coach Andy Robinson wanted to give all his players some game time and made 11 changes to the starting line-up. Captain and scrum-half Chris Cusiter was rested and the side were led by Rory Lawson , the son of former Scotland centre Alan Lawson and grandson of the much-loved TV commentator Bill McLaren. It was a day to remember for the McLarens as Bill's other nephew and Rory's first cousin, full back Jim Thompson was also playing, he was one of the four players retained by Robinson.

The experienced Webster ended the second-half stalemate as he scored his second try. The game was wrapped up for Scotland after Scott Lawson scored the third try late on. Another famous name on show for the Scots was David Blair, brother of national captain Mike, who had an excellent game at fly-half scoring three conversions and two penalties.

France had to fight hard to defeat Romania as they eventually won 20-16 in the final match on day two. The hosts started brilliantly and could have hurt the French with their forward play but a mixture of handling-errors and turnovers meant they were soon made to pay by the counter-attacking French. Right wing Romain Martial scored France's first try when he chased a kick from centre Lionel Mazars to touch down and the second was scored by prop Yannick Forrestier who went through unchallenged.

The Romanians were also hampered with their lineout which was dominated by French flanker Steve Malonga - who ironically has a Romanian mother. The Romanians found themselves 17-0 down but the comeback started with a penalty from fly half Iulian Dumitras, son of former Romanian captain Hary Dumitras. With the lineout not working the Romanians cleverly used the scrummage and the rolling maul to their advantage and and saw Dumitras go over for a well deserved try.

A penalty from Dumitras with 20 minutes to go meant that there was only one point between the sides and an unthinkable victory was on the cards but a late kick from Julien Audy meant the French hung on and the hosts got a valuable bonus point.

In the other game in the pool Italy A beat Russia 35-3 thanks to a clinical second-half performance. The Azzurri ran in five tries with Manoa Vosawai scoring a brace to put Italy third in the group but Russia are rooted to the bottom.


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