Scotland under-19 head coach Colin Robertson praised the character shown by his players after they scored two second half tries against a rampant French side in Dourdan, but the team still ended up losing 48-17.
Trailing 36-3 at half-time with a Ross Aitken penalty the only Scotland points on the scoreboard, the visitors pulled up their sleeves and delivered a spirited display in the second half with tries from Alex Black and captain Grant Gilchrist; Seumas Mackenzie scoring both conversions.
As a result, Robertson highlighted the lesson learned by the players in the first half against a powerful French team, but also congratulated the squad for staging a comeback.
Robertson said: “There was a lot of character shown by the team in the second half. At half-time, we were 36-3 down and they were looking down the barrel in many ways.
“We had a prolonged chat at half-time and the team played very well in the second half. It was a big performance in the second half – we kept the ball well and coped with France’s physicality.
“So I was pleased with the character shown. The size, physicality and dynamism shown by the French was incredible at times and our boys actually did well to lift themselves to play some decent rugby in the second half.
“It was a hardship for the boys; the French side have just come back from a tour to South Africa where they played three big sides. That was just a week ago, so they were well seasoned from that point of view.
“They are very skilful and very big, so it was a huge learning curve for our boys in that sense.”
Robertson singled out Gilchrist, Jason Hill and Andrew Fraser for special praise after the game and was pleased with the way they fronted up in the circumstances.
He added: “Grant Gilchrist led the squad well – he came into the leadership role quite late. Credit to him, he was able to lift the performance in the second half and that was a positive from our point of view.
“I also thought Jason Hill and Andrew Fraser both played very well for us.
“They will face that type of physicality and intensity next year in the under-20 programme, so this will be a valuable learning curve for the players.”
Scotland: Euan Shand; Douglas Fife, James Johnstone, Lewis Paterson, Max Learmonth, Ross Aitken, Alex Black; Anthony Kent, Alun Walker, Andrew Fraser, Grant Gilchrist (captain), Robert Harley, Michael Maltman, Calum Stidston-Knott, Jason Hill.
Ross Aitken penalty (4min)
Alex Black Try (55m) converted by Seamus McKenzie
Grant Gilchrist Try (69m) converted by Seamus McKenzie
Seamus Mackenzie for Euan Shand 35min
Mathew Scott for Ross Aitken 49m
Nicky Little for Anthony Kent 54min
Aaron Hall for Michael Maltman 55min
Kris Hamilton for Alex Black 58min
Ross Sutherland for Stidston Nott 60min
Mungo Strachan for Alun Walker 61min