Scotland under-20 were just shy of recording their first win in the 2012 IRB Junior World Championship this evening after a much improved team performance. They lost to France under-20, 29-30.
The Scots sneaked the lead with seven minutes to go, when winger Jamie Farndale touched down, but were unable to hold-on after France’s replacement prop Sebastien Taofifenua powered his way over the Scots line with two minutes left on the clock.
After Taofifenua’s try the Scots were gifted one more opportunity to go for the line, receiving a penalty in their own half. The clocked had ticked onto the eightieth minute and all they could do was tap and go. They made some hard yards but not enough to get the winning score.
From start to finish it was anyone’s game with neither team moving anymore than nine points ahead of the other at any point. However, despite going in at the break 16-15 and tallying up three tries, one conversion and four penalties the Scots were unable to create enough magic in the second-half to maintain the upper-hand. All the scores, bar Farndale’s try, were notched up by Edinburgh Rugby stand-off Harry Leonard.
Head coach, Peter Wright, said: “I’m extremely proud of the guys, the way they have bounced back from the Australia result. They took France on physically today and scored two cracking tries. Their efforts were very brave.
“There is mixed feelings now though given we lost the game despite being in the lead with two minutes to go.
“However, a performance like this gives us confidence to take on Argentina. We’re going up against the top team in the group next and they will be brutal and direct in the contact areas. We just have to compete like we did today and if we do that we will definitely have a chance.”
Scotland under-20 now have one game left in the group stages of the IRB Junior World Championship. They take on Argentina under-20 at the University of the Western Cape at 1.45pm (UK time) on Tuesday 12 June.
Run of play:
Two minutes in and France’s outside centre Gael Fickou put the first points on the board. Clement Otazo converted. 0-7
Twenty minutes later and Leonard brought the scores back within touching distance with a duo of penalties. 6-7
Just shy of the half hour mark and Fackou dived over the line again. This time Otazo missed the conversion. 6-12
Five minutes later, Leonard and replacement stand-off Enzo Selopini both knocked over another penalty each and then with a minute to go the Scots were awarded a penalty try, which Leonard converted. 16-15
Half-time: Scotland under-20 16-15 France under-20
Just over five minutes into the second half and Selopini added another three points to the French tally. Ten minutes later the French onslaught continued with a try and conversion from flanker Julien Kazubek and Selopini, respectively. 16-25
The Scots then worked their way back into the lead with a penalty from Leonard on 19 minutes, and his first try of the tournament on 24 minutes. Farndale then touched down on 32 minutes taking them four points ahead. 29-25
Leonard missed the conversion and with a matter of minutes to go Taofifenua sneaked the victory. 29-30
Full-time: Scotland under-20 29-30 France under-20
Scotland under-20 team: Sam Hidalgo-Clyne; Jamie Farndale, Mark Bennett, Finn Russell, Mike Crawley; Harry Leonard (Captain), Murray McConnell; Robin Hislop, George Turner, Alex Allan, Stuart Smith, Andy Redmayne, Gary, Will Bordill, Mitch Eadie.
Replacements: Fergus Scott (for Turner, 65mins), Jamie Bhatti, Gavin Robertson, Jamie Swanson (for Smith, 56mins), Callum Reid (for Graham, 66mins), Matt Torrance (for McConnell, 31mins (reversed on 35mins)), Tommy Allan, Tom Steven (for Crawley, 48mins)
France under-20 team: Vincent Martin; Bastien Fuster, Gael Fickou, Jonathan Danty, Darly Domvo; Clement Otazo, Etienne Quiniou; Florian Fresia, Jean Charles Fidinde, Jefferson Poirot, Andrew Chauveau, Pierre Gayraud, Julien Kazubek, Jonathan Laugel, Kelian Galletier (captain).
Replacements: Raphael Carbou, Khatchik Vartanov, Sebastien Taofifenua, Johan Aliouat, Eric Escande, Enzo Selponi, Jimmy Yobo, Alexandre Derrien