Johnson on Red Alert after Bolt from Les Bleus; France Fire Warning to English Hopes with Dazzling Display in Paris

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Byline: From Ian Stafford AT THE STADE DE FRANCE, PARIS



FRANCE served notice on England that, if they have designs on winning a first Six Nations title -- let alone a first Grand Slam since 2003 -- then they will have to counter a Gallic resurgence.

The French put recent horrors aside to beat a spirited Scotland side with a fine display of running rugby.

The all-singing and dancing French backs will pose a threat when they come to Twickenham on February 26, but England will have noted a leaky defence that was breached three times.

Scotland knew France would hit them hard early on after the humiliation Les Bleus endured in their previous home Test against Australia last November, a 59-16 pasting at Stade de France -- but they did not expect to be behind to a try inside two minutes.

A bruising hit on Nick de Luca by Francois Trinh-Duc forced him to lose the ball and Thierry Dusautoir collected.

The captain passed to Aurelien Rougerie and, when the centre kicked on, Maxime Medard won the chase to touch down in the corner.

Morgan Parra converted and soon put France 10 points to the good when he struck a penalty.

To Scotland's credit, within nine minutes they had trimmed the deficit to three points. Andy Robinson's men came to Paris sitting on an unenviable record of two wins in the French capital since 1969. But they began on the back of five wins in six Tests, including a home success in the autumn against South Africa.

Captain Alastair Kellock burrowed through the French hooker William Servat to score a try close enough to the posts for Dan Parks to convert to launch the revival.

But back came France, reminding us more of the team that became deserved Grand Slam champions last March than the shambles booed off the Stade de France in November.

Their pack camped on Scotland's line just prior to the half-hour and a series of scrums followed. Each time, the big Scottish forwards buckled. After the fourth, Wayne Barnes warned the visitors of the consequences if it should happen again. So when the Scottish props' heads popped out of the fifth scrum, English referee Barnes awarded a penalty try -- an easy frontof-the-posts conversion for Parra.

Ten minutes after the break, France appeared to wrap up the game. …