Scotland U20 fall short against France

Scotland were once again competitive in their fourth outing of the Under 20 Six Nations Championship at Netherdale tonight but couldn’t quite match either the élan or the execution of their French counterparts as they succumbed to a narrow defeat.

Once again, the opposition bench – just as it had been at Myreside when England were the visitors last month – made the difference in a second-half in which France were largely dominant as they secured a bonus point win.

Scotland had to be content with another losing bonus point.

Scotland after their late heroics in Italy, kicked off towards the Sykes end of Netherdale, watched by the senior team’s head coach, Gregor Townsend.

France attacked off turnover ball but a knock-on resulted in the game’s first scrum, 28 metres from the home line.

French full-back Dridi hinted he could be a menacing figure on the counter-attack in the early stages but the first penalty went Scotland’s way as they asserted authority at a scrum between their 22 and 10 metre line.

Thomas Lambert, the home loose-head, showed good skill with a sumptuous off-load to Jacob Henry, but a knock-on in midfield just outside the French 22, quelled that attack.

A touch-finder from Rufus McLean took Scotland to within six metres of the French line and though the visitors cleared, they were soon offside. From around 30 metres, centre field, Nathan Chamberlain goaled the first points of the match (3-0, 17 mins).

France responded, countering from a slack kick from Chamberlain. They found space wide on the left and captain Jordan Joseph escaped Connor Boyle’s despairing tackle for the game’s first try. Joris Moura converted (3-7, 20 mins).

Moura landed a tame penalty three minutes later and Scotland needed to regroup quickly (3-10, 24 mins).

That they did. Ollie Smith was first to threaten and from a couple of forward tilts, Chamberlain then had a dart. Ball was worked right and Robbie McCallum sent McLean in for the try, following on from his score in the first-half in Italy. Chamberlain struck an imperious touchline conversion to level the scores (10-10, 27 mins).

From a high tackle penalty and a driven lineout maul France were next to cross the whitewash through Dridi and Moura added the extras (10-17, 32 mins).

Smith’s adventurous high ball take and Cameron Henderson’s lineout catch off a penalty set up a home driving maul with Ewan Ashman bringing oomph galore. When Scotland released Roan Frostwick, his inside pass sent Henry careering in for Scotland’s second try. Chamberlain struck the equalising points (17-17, 35 mins).

Connor Boyle made a fine thrust as half-time neared but there were no further additions to the score.

HALF-TIME: Scotland U20 17-17 France U20

France were first to threaten in the second-half and off a quickly taken tap penalty they attacked right for stand-off Debaes to fire a diagonal that was pouched by right winger Nathanael Hulleu for a cracking try. The conversion drifted wide (17-22, 48 mins).

Moura miscued with a long-range penalty as France continued to press, but a penalty from Chamberlain gave Scotland a chance from a five-metre lineout. Sadly, the execution on the drive was sloppy.

France continued to enjoy the upper hand in territory and possession and they pulverised the Scotland pack at a close-range scrum, home put-in, for Joshua Brennan to dot down for the visitors’ fourth try. Debaes converted (17-29, 67 mins).

Scotland won a scrum penalty and Cameron Scott’s left foot prodded the home pack to another five metre lineout. France conceded another two penalties inside their 22 and, ultimately, Ashman got on the end of a lineout drive to grab Scotland’s third try. Scott missed the conversion (22-29, 72 mins).

France had Brennan sin-binned from the restart but at a time that Scotland needed composure it was not forthcoming.

A quick tap penalty from McGhie took Scotland towards the French 22 but a penalty for crossing ended the home hopes of salvaging a result from the match.

FULL-TIME: Scotland U20 22-29 France U20

Scotland U20: Ollie Smith (Ayrshire Bulls*); Rufus McLean (Boroughmuir Bears*), Matthew Currie (Watsonians Rugby*), Robbie McCallum (Boroughmuir Bears*), Jacob Henry (Southern Knights*); Nathan Chamberlain (Hartpury College/Bristol Bears), Roan Frostwick (Watsonians Rugby*); Thomas Lambert (Sydney University), Ewan Ashman (Sale Sharks), Mak Wilson (Southern Knights*), Kieran Watt (Watsonians Rugby), Cameron Henderson (Stirling County*), Gregor Brown (Boroughmuir Bears*), Connor Boyle (Watsonians Rugby*), Rory Darge (Southern Knights*) CAPTAIN.

Subs: Rory Jackson (Watsonians Rugby*) for Lambert (73 mins) Alex Maxwell (Stourbridge) for Ashman (73 mins), George Breese (Stirling County*) for Wilson (59 mins), Jamie Campbell (Biggar*) for Watt (51 mins), Jack Hill (Durham University) for Brown (51 mins), Kyle McGhie (Boroughmuir Bears*) for Frostwick (51 mins) Cameron Scott (Boroughmuir Bears*) for Chamberlain (64 mins), Harry Paterson (Heriot’s Rugby*) for McLean (67 mins).

*= FOSROC Scottish Rugby Academy supported player.

France U20: Erwan Dridi; Nathanael Hulleu, Yoram Falatea Moefana, Joris Moura, Nathan Farissier; Thibault Debaes, Nolann Le Garec; Sacha Lotrian, Guillaume Cramont, Paul Mallez, Joshua Brennan, Gauthier Maravat, Mickael Guillard, Matthias Haddad, Jordan Eddy Joseph CAPTAIN.

Subs: Loris Zarantonello for Cramont (55 mins), Aselo Ikahehegi for Lotrian (55mins), Regis Montagne, Theo William for Haddard (67 mins), Jean-Baptiste Lachaise for Maravat (60 mins) Theo Idjellibaine for Le Garec (69 mins), Edgar Retiere for Moura (61 mins), Romain Fusier for Farissier (69 mins).

Referee: Adam Jones (Wales). Assistant referees: Aled Evans and Gareth John (both Wales)

live commentary 8:00 PM Friday 6 Mar 2020

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