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Rugby World Cup 2003: REDPATH SEEKS SCOTS' PICK-UP; French rout hits quarter-final hopes.

FRANCE 51 SCOTLAND 9 SCOTLAND captain Bryan Redpath has urged his team to pick themselves up after defeat to France in Sydney left them needing to beat Fiji to reach the World Cup quarter-finals.

Ian McGeechan's men crashed to defeat in the Telstra Stadium where French fly-half Frederic Michalak led the record romp with 28 points as Scotland collapsed badly after an encouraging start.

Now Redpath is determined the team will not disappoint in the crucial pool match next weekend.

He said: 'We never made them kick into touch so we ended up giving possession away and they capitalised.

'It was very disappointing in that respect.' And before next Saturday's crucial last pool game in Sydney, Redpath said: 'Everyone will have a take a look at themselves.

'There is one more game left. We can still qualify and have to put a performance together to qualify.'

The manner and margin of the French victory will give England coach Clive Woodward something to ponder with the two sides potential semi-final opponents at the same venue on November 16. But, even if Scotland do get through, it will only send them into a quarter-final with hosts Australia and almost certainly on an early flight home.

With the row over Martin Leslie's 12-week ban rumbling on, Scotland could hardly have had a worse preparation. Yet they set out looking like their team-mate's misery had galvanised team spirit and could inspire them to unexpected deeds.

Chris Paterson was quick to level Frederic Michalak's early penalty and though the French fly-half later landed a dropgoal, Scotland were well in the game until Glenn Metcalfe was penalised for catching Fabien Galthie with a high tackle.

Television replays suggested referee David McHugh had got it wrong and the initial impact had been round the shoulder. It might not have meant much to the final score but Michalak's successful penalty sagged Scottish spirits at a time when they needed to battle hard and on France's next attack Olivier Magne found a hole which had not previously existed.

Imanol Harinordoquy was on hand to take the first pass, then fed Serge Betsen and his fellow back-row charged over from close range.

From being in a contest, France were suddenly in the clear.

Paterson and Michalak exchanged penalties before the break but the damage had been done and, when the teams emerged for the second half, only one had the confidence of winners.

Nicolas Brusque slotted over a drop-goal which gave his side a bit more breathing space then Harinordoquy spearheaded a French forward charge from a close-range line-out to grab his side's second try. Paterson interrupted the scoring flow with a penalty which Scotland might have been better to run, but the faint hopes his side still held were quickly extinguished.

Michalak slipped through a couple of woeful tackles and crashed over to complete his personal full house of scores, then veteran skipper Galthie charged to the corner after the French pack had wheeled the Scots off their own scrum.

Another Michalak penalty edged France further clear, then, in the final minute, Brusque completed a magnificent kick and chase by charging in at the corner.

Michalak's conversion brought up the half-century and completed a night of misery for Scotland.

SCORERS: France - Tries: Serge Betsen, Imanol Harinordoqui, Frederic Michalak, Fabien Galthie, Nicolas Brusque; Cons: Michalak (3), Gerald Merceron; Pens: Michalak (4) Drop Goals: Michalak, Brusque.

Scotland - Pens: Chris Paterson (3).

CAPTION(S):

TOUGH TIMES... Gregor Townsend (centre) sighs as Scotland go close while France's Raphael Ibanez (right) skips a tackle
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Title Annotation:Sport
Publication:Sunday Mercury (Birmingham, England)
Date:Oct 26, 2003
Words:590
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