[Match report provided by SRU]
SCOTLAND under-20 were unable to overcome a physical and clinical French side in the Six Nations fourth round fixture, with the visitors recording a 36-21 victory at Broadwood Stadium.
The defeat brought to an end Scotland’s record streak of four consecutive home victories at under-20 level, with the senior age-grade side having not lost on Scottish turf in over two years.
An exciting first-half, saw the home side go into the turn trailing by three points, with Ben Robbins crossing the whitewash to add to nine points from the boots of Adam Hastings.
John Dalziel’s men battled valiantly throughout the contest, with Matt Smith adding a second try in the 62nd minute and Hastings’ conversion closing to just three points the difference as game entered the last ten minutes (21-24), yet two late tries from the visitors opened the gap and put the victory out of reach for the home side.
France were first on the score-sheet after only four minutes as referee Tom Foley awarded the visitors with a penalty-try following a string of scrum infringements from the home side. Stand-off Anthony Belleau kicked his first two of six points with the simple conversion (0-7).
The game quickly settled following France’s opening score, and stand-off Adam Hastings soon closed the gap to just one point in favour of opposition with two well-struck penalties (6-7).
Having found their stride, Scotland began to build on the momentum built by the boot of Hastings, and on 26 minutes the home side took the lead for the first time as Ben Robbins split the defence with a well-executed inside run off scrum-half Hugh Fraser to score. Hastings conversion attempt was unsuccessful, as the ball floated across the face of goal (11-7)
France replied with Belleau penalty soon followed by a try of their own five minutes later, as man-of the match, scrum-half Antoine Dupont, drilled an accurate cross-field kick over to the opposite wing, which found the awaiting Martin Laveau for the score – Belleau again successful with the boot to add the extras (11-17).
Hastings again showed-off his impressive range from the tee, as he slotted a 50 metre penalty on the stroke of half-time to reduce the deficit (14-17).
Similar to the first-period, France were quick to get on the score-sheet, as, following a missed penalty attempt from Belleau, the highly-influential Dupont launched a counter-attack from deep inside his half following a Hastings kick, and linked up with centre Damien Penaud, who touched down for the score. Belleau made amends with the boot and slotted the conversion to extend his side’s lead (14-24).
France went down to 14-men in the 60th minute as lock Mathieu Tanguy was shown a yellow card for a cynical infringement at the ruck, hampering Scotland’s chance of quick ball.
From the subsequent penalty, Scotland kicked the ball into touch, before collecting the lineout ball and launching a driving maul, which set up the platform for back-row Matt Smith to break and touch down for this third try in the championship. Hastings’ conversion reduced the gap to three points after 62 minutes (21-24).
Scotland launched a number of forays into the French quarters in the following exchanges, yet not to any avail as ill-discipline often allowed the French the opportunity to clear danger.
On 70minutes, Judicael Cancoriet dealt a devastating blow to Dalziel’s men as he scooped up a charged-down kick to power over from short-range, despite the courageous effort of the scrambling Scottish defence. Belleau made it a 10-point game with his successful conversion (21-31).
And Belleau continued to be involved up until the last minute when he scored a last-gasp try to close the scoring at (21-35).