A gutsy showing from Scotland U20 wasn’t enough to overcome their French counterparts in the second round of the Six Nations, with the home side running out as 36-8 winners tonight (Friday 10 February) at Stade des Alpes, Grenoble.
A late flurry of tries from the home-side proved the difference between the teams in an otherwise tightly-contested match.
Both sides failed to take the most of their chances prior to the turn, with stand-off Connor Eastgate being the only Scottish name on scoresheet with a sole first-half penalty, despite prolonged periods of pressure on the opposition line.
France opened the scoring in the second-half with a try, but a reply from hooker Fraser Renwick kept Scotland in the game.
However, France unlocked Scotland’s defence in the final 15 minutes of the match, crossing the whitewash on three occasions to put themselves well out of touching distance of the battling Scots and close the game out in their favour.
Scotland looked the livelier of the sides in the opening exchanges, with wing Darcy Graham and full-back Stafford McDowall looking particularly energetic in the wide channels.
Scotland’s dominance in possession and territory soon paid dividends as France continued to infringe under pressure.
The visitors took advantage of the home side’s indiscipline with Eastgate opening the scoring with a successful penalty on 11 minutes to give his side the lead (0-3).
Buoyed by their early lead, Scotland fired further shots at the French line but to no avail with the final scoring pass proving somewhat elusive.
France got themselves on the scoreboard just before the half-hour mark, when lock Mickael Capelli rumbled over from the back of a driving maul to give his side the lead.
Stand-off Romain N’Tamack added the extras to Capelli’s score, before slotting a penalty in the 33rd minute to put his ahead (3-10) at the interval.
The second-half started in a similar fashion to the first, with both sides displaying an attacking intent.
However, France caught Scotland off-guard on 45 minutes with a score from scrum-half Baptiste Couilloud, who fed off a well-worked counter-attacking break from full-back Romain Buros. N’Tamack failed to convert (3-15).
Centre Craig Pringle seemed to have silenced the raucous Stade des Alpes crowd when he dived into the corner on 53 minutes. The referee asked the TMO to have a second-look at the potential score, to which it was concluded Pringle’s foot was in touch prior to the grounding and the try was disallowed.
However, Scotland stayed calm under pressure and their patience was rewarded when Renwick guided a driving lineout maul towards the try-line, before breaking off to touch down and score. Eastgate was unable to hit the target with the conversion (8-15).
French replacement Thomas Darmon had the chance to extend his side’s lead as the game entered the final quarter, yet failed to do so as his attempt at goal shaved the uprights.
The home side, however, soon firmed up their grasp on the game with a late onslaught of tries.
Wing Faraj Fartass raced up the wing to score the first of France’s three tries in the final 15 minutes. Darmon converted.
France’s replacement scrum-half, Athur Retiere, soon joined Fartass on the scoresheet, scoring first in the 73rd minute before sidling through the Scotland defence after the clock was dead to secure a brace of tries. Darmon added the extras to both scores, with the latter conversion being the last action of the game.
|Scotland U20||38||v||17||Italy U20|
|England U20||33||v||5||Scotland U20|
|Scotland U20||34||v||65||Wales U20|
|France U20||36||v||8||Scotland U20|
|Scotland U20||19||v||20||Ireland U20|