A buoyant crowd at Bridgehaugh cheered on Scotland Women as they took on France in the first women's international to be staged in Stirling (Saturday 25 February). However the home side couldn't make the pressure count as they were defeated 23-0.
Head coach Karen Findlay said: "We showed more composure and our platform ball, in a lot of respects, was better. We just needed that one extra pass. Three performances in and the girls deserve some points; we need to get those elusive points."
Audio interview with Karen below; click here to go to photo gallery
Scotland started well with sustained pressure on the French which saw them infiltrate the opposition half at every opportunity and pick up pace on each occasion they crossed the halfway line. Clever passing from stand-off Lisa Martin and some powerful breaks by Katy Green on the wing, rallied the side and buoyed the crowd, however it was the visitors who took the first points after 19 minutes as their pack tumbled over the line, the hand of number 8, Ba, claiming the score. 0-5.
The French added three points just under 15 minutes later with a penalty from stand-off Bailon and, two minutes before the break, a further push from their pack saw lock Bouisset add another five points making it 0-13 at half time.
The Scots came out after the break showing better shape and with a renewed vigour, however it was France who claimed the next points, the pack pressing over the line with the five points ultimately being claimed by hooker Gaelle. The conversion attempt bounced resoundly back into the 22 off the crossbar. 0-18.
The sin binning of prop Tracy Balmer after 50 minutes, for binding in the scrum, caused a reshuffle of the forwards with flanker Ruth Slaven coming off to be replaced by Heather Lockhart. The Scots held out for nine and a half minutes of being down to fourteen players, until the French pack again tumbed over the whitewash en masse for their fourth try, from lock De Nadai.
Balmer's return to the field saw Slaven back, replacing Beth Dickens, Charlotte Veale for Wheeler and Lindsay Smith replacing Sarah Quick. Despite piling on the pressure for the closing 20 minutes, Scotland couldn't turn the territory into tries with the final score 0-23.
Head coach Findlay said: Lots of aspects our game improved today. The girls worked hard and there was some really good offensive tackling. The only thing we didn't deal with was the catch and drive lineout."
The game marked the return from injury of no 8 and captain, Susie Brown, who added: "It was really great to be back on the pitch with the team. The facilities at Stirling are great and we had really good support from the crowd.
"I felt we had a better second half performance. France are an incredibly skilful side and though I was a bit disappointed with our some of our execution I definitely saw an improvement on our previous two performances."
Scotland Women v France Women at Bridgehaugh
15 Stephanie Johnston (RHC Cougars)
14 Katy Green (Murrayfield Wanderers)
13 Laura Steven (Murrayfield Wanderers)
12 Lisa Ritchie (Carlisle)
11 Sarah Dixon (Stirling County)
10 Lisa Martin (Murrayfield Wanderers)
9 Louise Dalgliesh (RHC Cougars)
1 Tracy Balmer (Worcester)
2 Sarah Quick (Murrayfield Wanderers)
3 Beth Dickens (Murrayfield Wanderers)
4 Anna Swan (RHC Cougars)
5 Jemma Forsyth (Hillhead/Jordanhill)
6 Lindsay Wheeler (Richmond)
7 Ruth Slaven (Murrayfield Wanderers)
8 Susie Brown (Richmond)
16 Lindsey Smith (Darlington Mowden Park Sharks)(on for Quick)
17 Heather Lockhart (Hillhead/Jordanhill)(on for Slaven)
18 Katherine Muir (Richmond)
19 Charlotte Veale (London Wasps)(on for Wheeler)
20 Tanya Griffith (RHC Cougars) (on for Steven)
21 Caroline Collie (OA Saints)
22 Lauren Harris (Melrose)
Player of the match: Sandrine Agricole (France)
Referee: Federica Guerzoni