[Match report provided by SRU]
SCOTLAND WOMEN put in a gritty performance to match the physicality of an experienced French side, who headed to Broadwood Stadium second in the Six Nations table.
Both sides struggled with the greasy conditions as light rain fell, but it was the visitors who celebrated at the final whistle after scoring four tries to nil.
The Scots’ effort in defence was outstanding and they showed some encouraging vigour on attack, but they were unable to find any gaps and put points on the board.
Young centre Lisa Thomson had another big ball-carrying shift with line-breaks all over the show and was rewarded with the Player of the Match award.
Scotland Women Head Coach Shade Munro said he was impressed with his charges taking it to the French for the full 80-minutes.
He said: “We had a really good first half. One of the things that the French bring to the game is physicality – they’re bigger, stronger, fitter, faster. But we took it to them, we didn’t back off. The effort was there. I’m proud of their attitude and the performance they put in, but there’s still lots of work to be done.
“We scrummaged well against a much heavier, experienced pack. Our line-outs were excellent and we won as much ball as we could. We also prevented them from scoring form a line-out drive, which they’ve done in the previous games.
“We’re feeling disappointed because we were in it. We can compete, we can beat these teams. It’s not a quick fix though.”
The Scottish defence was steadfast in the opening exchanges as the French were first on the attack. It didn’t take long for the hosts to fire with full-back Chloe Rollie and wing Rhona Lloyd lighting up the synthetic surface with their pace.
Scotland looked dangerous when they moved the ball through the hands out wide, but the French defence did well to holt them from making any meaningful progress.
Though Scotland didn’t have many chances in the French 22, they were very combative at the break down and shut down passes from being shifted out to the wings.
Just minutes after the TMO declined a try, the French were awarded a penalty try from a scrum at the 38-minute mark. A successful conversion by wing Laura Delas put the visitors ahead 7-0 going into half-time.
After a strong defensive first half, Scotland were still very much in the ball game and enjoying some patient attacking phases with a nice chip and chase by Rollie getting the home-crowd roaring.
Prop Tracy Balmer was then yellow carded at 50 minutes for deliberately slowing the ball down and another penalty try, converted by Delas, was awarded a couple of minutes later.
Fresh legs revived the Scots, including debutant Helen Nelson and prop Lisa Robertson, who is back from injury and made an impact within minutes.
A driving maul, followed by several patient phases led to Scots hooker Lana Skeldon making a break down the sideline. After coming close to the whitewash the French managed to get hold of the ball and send it out of the danger zone.
Scotland’s good close range defence held up for a while, but the French buried their way over the whitewash with the TMO awarding the try. A missed conversion kept the score at 19-0 with 68 minutes gone.
France then extended their lead with just two minutes to go when replacement Julien Duval scored, taking the final score to 24-0.