Late comeback not enough for Scotland

An improved performance from Scotland under-20 saw a narrow loss against a strong French side despite a spirited comeback in the second half.

The French made it difficult for the young Scots initially, with a high tendency for punishing errors and stretching the Scottish defence, allowing them to go into the break up by ten points to three.

However, pride in the jersey and some hard play in the second half allowed them to leave the pitch with their heads held high, the score 13-18 at full time.

Scotland under-20 head coach, Sean Lineen, said: “They should be pretty proud of that performance as it was a big step in the right direction for us. It’s going to take a while though, as there are a lot of youngsters who aren’t used to playing at this level.

“It was satisfying from a coaches’ point of view though. Moulding the guys together and getting them to understand what it takes physically, mentally and skill-wise is important but it takes time.

“I’m pleased for Tommy Spinks. He put in a huge shift today, he ran hard and ran really well. I think Andrew Cramond was the unsung hero of the forward play though, he’s come on leaps and bounds.”

The game started with the French forwards quickly showing their dominance as Scotland struggled under the pressure.

However, the Scots were the first onto the scoreboard with Ben Chalmers slotting a penalty kick 15 minutes in.

France quickly answered with a break from scrum-half, Anthony Meric, which saw stand-off Brandon Fajardo cross the line and convert his own try.

In attack, Scotland were failing to create any kind of momentum and errors deep in the Scottish half saw Fajordo increase the lead with a penalty.

With Scotland kicking away any possession while under pressure, the first half ended with heads down from the home side.

HT Scotland 3 France 10

The start of the second half saw the French pressured into making mistakes, though Scotland were still finding it tough to break out of their own half.

A Scottish penalty from the scrum, not the first, resulted in France putting another three points on the scoreboard from the boot of Meric.

The attrition of the French saw them cross the line again from hooker Tommy Raynaud’s pick-and-go, though the try was not converted.

Scotland then rallied into action with the side beginning to look dangerous as they punched holes in the French defence.

A driving maul from a lineout allowed Scotland’s Andrew Cramond (pic below) to cross the line, bringing the score up to 8-18.

Playing with more passion and working their way up the pitch, Scotland scored again after a well-aimed kick from Gavin Lowe allowed Damien Hoyland (pic above) to add another five to Scotland’s tally.

Scotland continued to look dangerous, a break from Jamie Farndale showing just how unpredictable the side can be when on the back foot.

However, the clock outran the comeback and the game ended at 13-18 in favour of the French.

FT: Scotland 13 France 18

Scotland under-20 team: Damien Hoyland; Jamie Farndale, Blair Hutchison, Ruairidh Young, Sam Pecqueur; Ben Chalmers, Murdo McAndrew; Jack Cosgrove, James Malcolm, D’arcy Rae, Andrew Cramond, Lewis Carmichael, Tommy Spinks (Captain), Gabriel Carroll and Magnus Bradbury.

Replacements: Isaac Miller (on for Malcolm 53m), Phil Cringle (on for Rae 57m), Chris Barnes, Glen Young (on for Carmichael 69m), Neil Irvine-Hess (on for Carroll 65m), Ben Vellacott (on for McAndrew 40m), Cameron Jeffrey and Gavin Lowe (on for Chalmers 56m).

France under-20 team: Pierre Justes; Kylan Hamdaoui, Paulin Riva, Xavier Mignot, Lucas Blanc; Brandon Fajardo, Anthony Meric; Oleg Ishchenko, Florian Ardiaca, Tommy Reynaud, Felix Lambey, Jean Baptiste Singer, Jean Blaise Lespinasse, Jean Thomas and Francois Cros (Captain).

Replacements: Romain Ruffenach, Xerom Civil, Hadrien Vaslin, Arthur Iturria, Lucas Bachelier, Baptiste Serin, Lucas Meret and Ivan Roux.

Referee: Dan Jones (WRU)