A 1,200 strong crowd were treated to a thrilling game of rugby tonight at Millbrae as Scotland Club International beat the XV of France 25-18.
The Scots left the supporters on the edge of their seat for the last quarter as the French hammered at their defensive line phase after phase after phase, but the hosts refused to relent and their three tries, from Melrose Winger Fraser Thomson, captain and hooker Sean Crombie (Boroughmuir) and Ayr centre Ross Curle, were enough to seal the victory.
Head coach Ally Donaldson said: “I’m absolutely delighted; this was a hard earned victory.
“We made it hard for ourselves in the last 15 minutes but the ambition the players had and the pace they played the game at was second to none and they managed to hold the French off.
“We must now build on this performance and do what a Club International side has never done before to win in Ireland and to win two consecutive matches.
“The commitment and effort all the players have put in is fantastic, they have travelled so many miles from Aberdeen, Dundee, Ayr and many other places for training, but I thought tonight that Robbie Colhoun certainly deserved the man-of-the-match award and that Rory McKay’s shift was unbelievable.”
The Scot’s opened the scoring three minutes in with new recruit Lee Millar knocking over his first attempt at goal, the teams then exchanged a few more penalties. The visitors emerged on top as winger Bertrand Artero scored two to Millar’s one. 3-6
The intensity of the game picked up after twenty minutes with the Scots showing a real threat in attack, prompted by confident and patient hands being played along the line. Their reward came just shy of half an hour as they were left with a two on one in front of the stand and Thomson dived in for the opening try. 8-6
The French then responded instantly with stand-off Julien Lavie picking up a loose ball and splitting the Scots defence like a hot knife through butter. His efforts were then complemented by Artero’s conversion, which concluded the first half scoring. 13-8
The excitement of the first half was not over though as Artero and hooker Alban Viozelange were sent to the bin for infringements at the breakdown.
Half-time: Scotland Club International 8-13 XV of France
In the second period the Scots knew there was an advantage they could not allow to go begging, they were two men up and needed to capitalise. So on five and ten minutes of the sin binning Crombie emerged from a pile of bodies claiming the first try of the half, before Thomson continued to show his threat in the side by making 30 yards of ground on the wing.
He drew the defence and chipped the ball back inside for local boy Curle to scoop up and dive over the line in one fell swoop. At this stage Millar got his kicking back on target converting the two scores and boosting the Scots lead. 22-13
Millar then concluded the hosts scoring with 20 minutes to go kicking over a simple penalty. 25-13
But the match was still not over. For the closing 15 minutes France reclaimed the possession and managed a pick and go try with hooker Viozelange the scorer. They continued to put the pressure on but a courageous effort from the Scots, minus Richard Hawkins who hade been sent to the bin with six minutes to go, denied the French’s every attempt at the line and saw them force an error and end the game.
Full-time: Scotland Club International 25-18 XV of France
RBS Man-of-the-match: Rob Colhoun (Ayr)
Scotland Club International: Fraser Harkness (Selkirk); Callum Anderson (Aberdeen Grammar), Ross Curle (Ayr), Dean Kelbrick (Glasgow Hawks), Fraser Thomson (Melrose); Lee Millar (Gala), Richard Snedden (Currie); Alan Dymock (Heriot’s), Sean Crombie (Boroughmuir) (captain), Alan Brown (Dundee HSFP), Rory McKay (Glasgow Hawks), Scott Sutherland (Ayr), Graeme Dodds (Melrose), Rob Colhoun (Melrose), Ross Weston (Currie).
Replacements: Fraser Brown (Heriot’s) (for Crombie, 70mins), John Cox (Currie), Gary Holborn (Melrose) (for Brown, 34mins), Richard Hawkins (Dundee HSFP) (for Sutherland, 70mins), Andrew Rose (Boroughmuir) (for Colhoun, 76mins), Morgan Ward (Aberdeen Grammar) (for Snedden, 67mins), Stuart Edwards (Stirling County), Danny Gilmour (Stirling County) (for Kelbrick, 80mins).
XV of France: Simon Sarthou (Midi Pyrenees); Simon Pages (Lyonnais), Anthony Frenet (Lyonnais), Aurelien Sourrouille (Midi Pyrenees)m Bertrand Artero (Provence); Julien Lavie (Cote D’Argent), Paul Dubert (Cote Basque Landes); Nicolas Agnesi (Midi Pyrenees), Alban Viozelange (Limousin), Arnaud Etchegaray (Midi Pyrenees), Anthony Potente (Midi Pyrenees), Clement Praud (Bourgogne), Louis Ferdinand Bezert (Provence), Guillaume Geledan (Armagnac Bigorre), Julien Capdeillayre (Cote D’Azuri).
Replacements: Mirko Lo Zupone (Auvergne), Jean Philippe Jacouton (Bourgogne), Guillaume August (Cote Basque Landes), Anthony Hudson (Drome Ardeche), Gregory Coudol (Ile De France), Robin Janisson (Drome Ardeche), Thomas Trautmann (Lyonnais).
Referee: Mateo Liperini (FIR)