Spirited Scotland Fall To France

Scotland started the 2008 U20 6 Nations campaign with a spirited second half display against France but Colin Robertson’s side unfortunately lost 6-12 at Falkirk Stadium. Scotland 6 France 12

Despite a six-point haul from centre Stephen McColl, Colin Robertson's side were narrowly beaten at the Falkirk Stadium in the 2008 U20 6 Nations opener at The Falkirk Stadium.

France, managed by Philippe Sella, powered into an early lead after only four minutes when outside centre Mathieu Bastareaud used his sheer physicality to shrug off a tackle before touching down to score in the corner.

The powerhouse centre was a constant threat to Scotland and was later deservedly handed the man-of-the-match award.

The visitors missed the subsequent conversion; much to the relief of the home team who were disappointed after falling victim to such an early try.

But Scotland looked strong at the set-piece and a well-worked line-out triggered the home side’s first real chance of the night.

Stand-off James Murray punched a hole in the visitors defence with an incisive side-step before the move faded when the final pass failed to find a white jersey.

Nevertheless Scotland looked visibly buoyed by their inaugural sojourn up the pitch, but Robertson was then forced to reshuffle the back division when injured winger Tom Bury was replaced by Lee Jones on the 13-minute mark.

A series of infringements from the French youngsters culminated in Scotland being awarded a penalty and Stephen McColl nailed his attempt to bring The Falkirk Stadium to life and reduce the deficit to just two points.

Chris Kinloch, who enjoyed an enterprising game, put the frighteners on the French defence when he used his eye-catching pace to chase through a kick, but the touch judge ruled he had stepped out of play.

France gradually crept up the pitch and worked through the phases with a robust brand of rugby before Laurent Tuery was judged by the referee to have grounded the ball over the line at the bottom of a ruck.

France stand-off Julien Dumora made amends for the earlier miss by sweeping over the conversion to extend Les Bleus’ lead.

After McColl has missed a penalty, Scotland battled to get back into the match and just before half-time the snow started to descend on the pitch, but France stood firm and kept hold of their 12-3 lead.

Straight after the break, Scotland were awarded another penalty, but unfortunately McColl miscued that attempt.

But after a testing first half, Scotland appeared to be in the ascendancy and determined to front-up against France’s pack.

The backs also shone and a fine fluent move involving four Scotland players ended in full-back Murray Allan just being held up short of the line.

Spurred on by the supporters, Scotland probed France’s defence with dangerous intent and almost scored as they drove the ball over the line; only for France to turnover possession and clear their lines.

But the pressure ultimately translated into points for Robertson’s team when McColl struck a successful penalty goal to give Scotland some hope.

McColl had another chance to put further points on the board, but he unfortunately pushed his effort wide of the target.

France’s sheer strength and eye for an opening almost led to the visitor’ 'third try of the night when a purposeful break from flanker Yohana Vivalda caused Scotland several problems.

But the final pass went astray and Scotland breathed a collective sigh of relief, although there were a handful more scares for the host nation before the full-time whistle sounded.

Scotland: M. Allan, T. Bury, R. Jackson, S. McColl, C. Kinloch, J. Murray, R. Samson; G. Strain, A. Duncan, L. Niven, J. Brown, N. Patrick, F. McKenzie, L. Calder (captain), J. Baird. Replacements: F. Brown (for Duncan), A. Dixon, A. Ferrier (for L. Niven), C. Charters, S. Burton (for Baird), M. Heeks (for Samson), L. Jones (for Bury).

France: Y. Durquet, W. Fofama, M. Bastareaud, Y. David, A. Timoteo, J. Dumora, A. Thomas (captain); N. Agnesi, C. Maynadier, C. Ric, J-B. Roidot, A. Jaulhac, Y. Vivalda, L. Tuery, A. Loubiere.

Referee: C Stanley (Ireland)