Unbeaten France kept pace with England at the top of the Women’s Six Nations standings with a victory over battling hosts Scotland.
In a ruthless four-minute period, Laure Sansus scored a first-half double, including a stunning solo try, and Jessy Tremouliere and Gaelle Hermet crossed for a bonus point.
Chloe Rollie responded late in the game, but Scotland had too much to do. France now has the same number of points as the Red Roses after three games, while Scotland has only one.
The electric Sansus, one of the game’s finest talents, shattered the Scottish resistance early on, collecting a clearance and chipping over the chasers before gathering to score.
Tremouliere, her equally illustrious half-back partner, converted and crossed soon after, selling a dummy to Jenny Maxwell to power over before nailing the kick from wide.
At this point, Scotland was holding their own against the French heavyweights, winning tussles at the breakdown and earning a slew of penalties to keep the Glasgow crowd entertained.
Scotland’s first points came from Helen Nelson, but they were unable to capitalize on the visitors’ indiscipline, squandering possession in the away 22 in the face of colossal tackling.
Their chances were snuffed out by four disastrous minutes at the end of the half. Sansus, ever vigilant, came to a halt after Hermet charged down Jenny Maxwell’s box kick. Hermet cantered home after a series of deft off-loads. Two tries, two conversions, and the Scottish hopes are extinguished.
France had won the game, withdrawing their star half-backs, while Scotland continued to pound at the line, with a massive spell of pressure and repeated infringements earning Julie Annery a yellow card.
Rollie eventually booted the door off its hinges with a dynamic run to the corner after hammering at it.
Scotland delivered a positive second 40 as they prepare to face Italy in 13 days, keeping France, one of the long-standing powerhouses of women’s rugby, scoreless in the second half. They are still calculating the cost of their late second-round loss to Wales.
France, who visit Wales on 22 April, remain neck and neck with the Red Roses ahead of a likely and seismic Grand Slam decider in Bayonne on the final weekend.
Scotland captain Rachel Malcolm: “We’ve said it’s not good enough for us to be losing, last week and this week. Last week we showed we could have beaten Wales if we’d turned up from the start.
“I said at half-time, ‘no matter what happens, we win this half’. We turned our set-piece around after a rough first half, which was very pleasing, but some of the moments of brilliance from France in the first half, I put my hands up.
“That second half we were the better team and it shows us we can compete with the best.”
Scotland head coach Bryan Easson: “We were really disappointed at half-time, our set-piece and attacking breakdowns had to tighten up. We can’t keep saying that, it’s not good enough to give teams that start and put pressure on us.
“We had some good attacking sets, we just didn’t fire a shot. When you put territory on a team, you have got to take that. When you lose ball early in a phase count, it doesn’t put pressure on. Second half we did, they were under pressure and made mistakes.”
Scotland: Chloe Rollie (Exeter Chiefs), Rhona Lloyd (Les Lioness du Stade Bordelaise), Emma Orr (Biggar), Lisa Thomson (Sale Sharks), Megan Gaffney (Loughborough Lightning), Helen Nelson (Loughborough Lightning), Jenny Maxwell (Loughborough Lightning); Leah Bartlett (Loughborough Lightning), Lana Skeldon (Worcester Warriors), Christine Belisle (Loughborough Lightning), Louise McMillan (Hillhead Jordanhill), Sarah Bonar (Harlequins), Rachel Malcolm (Loughborough Lightning), Evie Gallagher (Stirling County), Jade Konkel (Harlequins).
Replacements: Jodie Rettie (Saracens), Molly Wright (Sale Sharks), Katie Dougan (Gloucester Hartpury), Lyndsay O’Donnell (Worcester Warriors), Rachel McLachlan (Sale Sharks), Caity Mattinson (Worcester Warriors), Sarah Law (Sale Sharks), Meryl Smith (Edinburgh University).
France: Emilie Boulard, Marie-Aurelie Castel, Marine Menager, Chloe Jacquet, Melissande Llorens, Jessy Tremouliere, Laure Sansus, Annaelle Deshaye, Laure Touye, Assia Khalfaoui, Celine Ferer, Madoussou Fall, Julie Annery, Gaelle Hermet, Emeline Gros.
Replacements: Celia Domain, Coco Lindelauf, Clara Joyeux, Safi N’Diaye, Romane Menager, Alexandra Chambon, Morgane Peyronnet, Gabrielle Vernier.
Referee: Clara Munarini (Ita)