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A late Noa Nakaitaci try gave France a 19-16 win over Scotland

France's winger Noa Nakaitaci scores a try during the rugby union test match between France and Scotland
Image: Noa Nakaitaci scores for France

Scotland were denied a smash-and-grab win in Paris after France stormed back to claim a 19-16 win in both sides' final match before the World Cup.

Vern Cotter's side were erratic at the vital moments for most of the opening hour but a moment of class from skipper Greig Laidlaw set up Tommy Seymour to score.

However, the Scotland could not claim their first win at the Stade de France since 1999 as Philippe Saint-Andre's team finally breached the solid Scots defence with Noa Nakaitaci's late touchdown.

There was more drama at the end as the visitors opted against taking a penalty which would have handed them a draw as they instead chased a winning try.

Scotland arrived in Paris hoping to iron out any last-minute kinks before they kick-off their World Cup campaign against Japan in Gloucester on September 23.

However, the spotlight focused on New Zealand-born flanker John Hardie was a little more intense than those trained on the rest of the Dark Blues line-up following his controversial call-up.

The Kiwi's inclusion in Cotter's 31-man squad at the expense of John Barclay and Blair Cowan, just five weeks after touching down in Scotland for the first time, was branded a "disgrace" and the 27-year-old was under pressure to
justify his inclusion. A series of solid tackles showed there was wisdom in his selection.

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The Scots started 2015 with six straight defeats but after finally injecting some much-needed momentum into their tournament preparations with back-to-back wins over Italy, they were keen to keep the feel-good factor rolling on against
Les Bleus

Laidlaw put the first points on the board as he nailed a 45-metre penalty - but a succession of handling errors was not what Cotter wanted to see with their Pool B opener just three weeks off.

A bulldozing run from Mathieu Bastareaud, however, set up Freddy Michalak to tie things up with a penalty - but Scotland were soon in front again with another Laidlaw kick.

The French centre pairing of Wesley Fofana and Bastareaud were proving to be a right handful with their surging carries.

It took fair means and foul to keep them at bay and Michalak ensured France were not hard done by as the Toulon fly-half slotted over his second kick.

It looked as though the muscle-bound pair had cut Scotland open again five minutes before the break but referee Wayne Barnes spotted Bastareaud's forward pass before Fofana dotted down in the corner. To Cotter's relief, Fofana limped
off soon after.

Laidlaw and Michalak then traded penalties either side of the half-time break as the teams continued to go blow for blow.

It could have taken a turn for the worse for Scotland, though, after Matt Scott coughed up possession. Sean Maitland came to the rescue though with a try-stopping tackle on Yoann Huget as he put the galloping wing into touch.

The hosts did take the lead for the first time when long-range specialist Scott Spedding squeezed a monster penalty over from inside his own half.

However, Laidlaw then came up with a stunning sucker punch as the Scots stormed back in front after 62 minutes. Spotting a gaping whole on the left-hand side of the Les Bleus defence, the scrum-half fired a perfect kick over the top and watched with joy as Tommy Seymour beat Spedding to the ball after using his soccer skills to good effect as he dribbled round the full-back's tackle, leaving him to jog in for the score. Laidlaw added the extras.

However, the French were in no mood to lie down and poured forward. The pressure was too much for David Denton, who left Scotland a man down for the final 10 minutes when he was sin-binned for a cynical foul on Bastareaud.

And with the extra man, Saint-Andre's men could not be stopped as Noa Nakaitaci combined passes with Remi Tales before storming over for the winner, converted by substitute Morgan Parra.

But Scotland were not done yet. Matt Scott wasted a golden chance when he threw a wild pass into touch before Laidlaw opted to go for glory rather the draw as he turned down a certain penalty. France though stood strong for the win.

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