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France U20 45-21 Scotland U20

A battling Scotland U20 side ultimately emerged empty-handed from their clash with France this evening, as a 14-man Les Bleus weathered a Scottish comeback to take a 45-21 victory.

In perfect conditions for rugby, it would be France who would open the scoring with just three minutes played. A delayed pass from captain Nolann le Garrec sent Maxime Baudonne under the posts unopposed for the try, with le Garrec adding the extras after a short TMO review for a 7-0 lead.

With the wind at his back, le Garrec soon extended his side’s lead to 10 points just moments later, as the Racing 92 scrum-half made short work of a penalty from 45 metres. They soon extended their lead yet further; turnover ball in midfield saw Thibault Debaes drop a cross-field kick into the arms of Benjamin Boudou, with the hooker offloading inside to Enzo Reybier for the run-in. Le Garrec’s conversion was successful from out wide, giving France a 17-0 lead with 12 minutes on the clock.

Scotland’s response was positive, as they looked to attack with their first spell of sustained possession. A high tackle on Thomas Glendinning saw Theo Ntamack shown a yellow card, but any advantage for Lineen’s men was soon wiped out. Another attacking lineout saw a maul illegally collapsed by Tom Banatvala, with the prop sent to the sin-bin and a penalty try awarded by the referee as the first quarter drew to a close.

As Ntamack returned to the field, though, Les Bleus were reduced to 14 on a permanent basis. A dangerous tackle on Glendinning by Reybier saw the France winger shown a red card, with the decision confirmed upon referral to the TMO.

Immediately, Scotland made their advantage count. It would be Patrick Harrison who eventually found the way over the whitewash, after good lineout work from Alex Samuel. Euan Cunningham’s conversion was perfectly judged into the wind, and Scotland were on the board.

The French pack was showing its power, though, and provided the platform for France to secure the bonus point with three minutes of the half remaining. Advantage in hand, le Garrec’s short pass found Leo Barre on the charge, before converting the centre’s try to make it 31-7.

Yet it would be Scotland who would have the last word of the half. A charge-down by Samuel on le Garrec forced France to concede a penalty, and from there the men in white struck. Once more Samuel was the safe ball at the lineout, allowing Harrison to motor over at the tail of the maul for his second try of the match. Cunningham converted, narrowing the deficit to 31-14 at the break.

Scotland were fired up, and came roaring out of the changing rooms to notch their third try. Once more it came from an attacking lineout, as Samuel and Harrison combined to take play within inches of the French line. It was left to Ollie Leatherbarrow to apply the finishing touch, Cunningham converting to make it a 10-point game.

The match was now being played almost exclusively in French territory, with Lineen’s men making all of the noise at Cardiff Arms Park. Samuel was within inches of the bonus-point score for Scotland, whilst replacement prop Mike Jones and Leatherbarrow each contributed vital turnovers at the breakdown.

Somewhat against the run of play, however, it would be France who would score next. Having gained the upper hand at the scrum, successive penalties saw the French establish themselves in the Scotland 22 before a deliberate knock-on from Ollie Melville saw the Scotland full-back shown a yellow card. The infringement was deemed to have prevented a try, meaning a second penalty try of the evening was awarded to the men in blue.

The score seemed to reinvigorate France, who provided a further sucker punch straight from the restart. Debaes’ break in midfield was halted by the covering Leatherbarrow, only for Baudonne to collect the ball and race over from 30 metres. Le Garrec converted, and France had a 45-21 lead with 12 minutes remaining.

Whilst Scotland would go in search of a bonus-point of their own it would sadly elude them, a harsh reflection of their efforts on the evening. Yet Lineen’s men will look to build on the positives present as they conclude their campaign next week, with Wales the final opponents in the 2021 U20 Six Nations.

live commentary 5:00 PM Wednesday 7 Jul 2021

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Kick-off 5:00 PM

France U20s

Scotland U20s

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