Late Scotland try denied by TMO as Les Blues snatch Six Nations victory

February 11, 2024 7:28 am

[Source: Sky Sports]

Sam Skinner’s late try was controversially ruled out by the TMO as Scotland suffered a 20-16 defeat by France at Murrayfield in the second round of the Six Nations.

Louis Bielle-Biarrey’s sensational individual effort after 70 minutes gave France the lead for the first time with just under 10 minutes remaining but Scotland regained territory and fought back to get Skinner over the line with the clock red.

The decision was deliberated for a long time before it was ruled that there was not enough evidence to award the try, giving the visitors a narrow victory.

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Only a Finn Russell penalty came for Scotland in the second half, counteracting a seemingly dominant first 40 in which Ben White was the first name on the scoresheet, sliding over in the rain as two Russell penalties plus the conversion saw the home outfit take a 13-10 lead in at half-time.

A Gael Fickou try plus five points from the boot of Ramos helped the France fightback in the first half, but a sin bin just before half-time for a dangerous tackle by Uini Atonio put them on the back foot.

Despite such dominance, a breathless final 10 minutes showed why France are always one of the teams to watch in the Six Nations.

It was slippery at Murrayfield as Scotland made early handling mistakes but then the wet weather worked in their favour eight minutes in as Russell, Duhan Van der Merwe and debutant Harry Paterson brilliantly combined to send White sliding over.

A Ramos penalty in the first quarter was then met with two from the boot of Russell as Scotland looked to stay on top after the first half an hour, but eventually France’s potent attack prevailed.

Despite Fickou’s breakaway after 15 minutes being nullified by a potentially high Van der Merwe tackle, he finally got over the line after 30 minutes with a sensational display of pace, Ramos converting to bring the score to 13-10 at half-time.

A run of penalties saw Atonio sent to the sin bin for a dangerous tackle but despite constant pressure, Scotland couldn’t add any more points to their tally before the break.

The third quarter saw both sides trying to take advantage of each other’s errors as France kept wasting their territory, White nearly claiming his second if not for a Damian Penaud hand seeing the TMO give no try.

Points finally came for Scotland in the second half in the 57th minute as Russell converted from in front of the posts after France were caught offside, the visitors having to play the final 30 without their injured captain Gregory Alldritt.

With scores so close the tension was palpable, scrambling defences and kicking games becoming pivotal before some individual brilliance and pace gave France the lead, Bielle-Barrey scoring a try of his own making after chipping over the top and collecting to go over the whitewash.

The Ramos conversion gave France a one-point lead with less than 10 minutes to play, a penalty increasing their lead to four points before the controversial moment ensued.

Scotland, with the territory, put the phases together to get right onto the France line, Skinner going over with the clock already in the red.

The try was deliberated for a number of minutes before the TMO determined they did not have conclusive evidence to overturn referee Nic Berry’s original decision of held up, sealing a heartbreaking defeat for Scotland.

“Personally, I believe that was a try at the end but that’s up to the referee to decide that. That’s what he’s there to do the job for, we’ve just got to take this defeat on the chin and we’ve got to get better for England.

“We can’t let the referee decide what happens in a game, that’s up to us to play better and make these matches a victory.”

“We were celebrating in the coaches box. We could hear the TMO’s conversation with the referee, saying, ‘The ball was on foot then the ball was down,’ and then he changes his mind and says, ‘Stick with the on-field decision’.

“From a coaching perspective, you’ve got to win the game and not put it in the hands of TMOs and referees and that is what we will work on.

“We were in control of the game and in control most of the way in tough conditions. We had to play a different way and I’m really disappointed we didn’t win the game. We felt we won the game. We saw the ball on the tryline.”

“When the referee gives an on-field decision, you have to have clear evidence to overturn that decision.

“It’s a very, very difficult decision to make. It all comes down to if the TMO has clear evidence.

“It looks like it’s probably on the ground, is there enough for him to say 100 per cent it is good? Probably not.

“So it’s one of those really, really tough ones. But the ball looks like it is on the ground. I think they will be debating this one for a long time.”

“I was just glad I wasn’t making the decision because whatever you did there someone is going to be upset. It looked like a try but if they are saying ‘we have to prove it is’, it was difficult and couldn’t be definitive.

“I like chaotic rugby, it’s a melee, it’s do or die, everyone is trying to pile in. The referee has got to look for 1,000 things and then do the grounding. Normally with those in the game, if in doubt they don’t give it, and that’s what he did.”