THE pressure was on both teams before this game at Scotstoun – Scotland needed to bounce back after losing their opening two games, while France required a bonus-point win to keep pace with England at the top of the TikTok Six Nations table. Unfortunately, it was not to be for the home side, who were overwhelmed in a first half that saw the French score four tries to all but wrap up the result they needed.
The second half was a lot better from the home team’s point of view, as Chloe Rollie scored a try to add to the penalty kicked by Helen Nelson in the first 40. But it was too little too late, as Bryan Easson admitted after the game.
“It was a disappointing first half,” the head coach said. “W didn’t fire a shot in that period and we were really frustrated at half-time. Our set piece and attacking breakdowns were not good enough and had to be tightened up.
“We did talk about nilling them in the second half and we did that, which was nice, but we can’t keep starting games when we are already behind as that puts too much pressure on. In the second half we were a lot better, but we need to believe in ourselves from the start of games.”
The first few minutes actually went well from Scotland, who found themselves deep in the home 22 at one point in the opening exchanges only to be turned over. But it was the visitors who drew first blood, as Laure Sansus chipped the ball over the top, gathered and trotted in to dot the ball down under the posts. Jessy Tremouliere added the extras.
There was a stoppage in play to review a knock on Rollie from a stray French leg, and the home side were awarded a penalty which Thomson thumped up the park. The lineout was stolen by the French and it was back up to halfway.
The penalty count continued to rise as the visitors were penalised for not rolling away, and Nelson made no mistake from in front of the posts. But France were soon back in the hunt for a try, and although one chance went when a chip over the top bounced out of play, Tremouliere soon found her way over the whitewash. She converted her own try to make it 3-14.
The Scottish defence had to work overtime in the last few minutes of the first half, and managed to turn the ball over after a promising French attack. But the attempted clearance was charged down and Sansus got her second try of the afternoon. Tremouliere again made no mistake with the conversion.
France were not done, as Gaelle Hermet went over for their fourth try, with Tremouliere keeping up her 100 per cent record.
The Scots came out fighting in the second half and had a chance straight from kick-off but it was knocked forward. Six minutes later there was another promising run from Louise McMillan, but she couldn’t quite gather it and the move ended in a penalty to France.
The Scottish attack continued to look promising as continuous phases of work got them up the field, but France won the penalty at the breakdown. The French were also guilty of conceding a few, however, and after one too many infringements, forward Julie Annery was yellow-carded.
Scotland’s patience finally paid off in the 68th minute as, after fabulous groundwork from the forwards, Chloe Rollie dived over the line. Helen Nelson’s conversion attempt was off target.
From the restart Scotland were on the front foot and it seemed Rollie’s try sparked
something as they went hunting for their next score. They had another penalty for an infringement at the scrum, but after a promising run, the ball bounced off Thomson and into touch giving the French a lineout.
France looked like scoring a fifth in the closing minutes, but they were held up on the line by three Scottish defenders. It was a spirited performance from Scotland, who refused to go down without a fight.
France did play some good rugby, but given the form they are in they may well think they should have won more easily. Their failure to do so, however, is testament to the determination shown by the home team, who dominated the second half and showed some real promise.
“We were the better team after the break, and it shows we can compete if we are on it from minute one,” Scotland captain Rachel Malcolm said. “That second half was what we are all about, and the first half just wasn’t good enough in parts”.
Scorers: Scotland: Try: Rollie. Pen: Nelson.
France: Tries: Sansus 2, Tremouliere, Hermet. Cons: Tremouliere 4.
Yellow card: France: J Annery 67.
Scotland: C Rollie; R Lloyd, E Orr (S Law 51), L Maxwell, M Gaffney; H Nelson (M Smith 79), J Maxwell (C Mattinson 55); L Bartlett (M Wright 58), L Skeldon (J Rettie 79), C Belisle (K Dougan 79), L McMillan (L O’Donnell 80), S Bonar, R Malcolm (captain), E Gallagher, J Konkel (R McLachlan 55).
France: E Boulard; M Castel (G Vernier 74), M Ménager, C Jacquet, M Llorens; J Trémoulière (M Peyronnet 65), L Sansus (A Chambon 41); A Deshaye (C Lindelauf 52), L Touyé (C Domain 74), A Khalfaoui (C Joyeux 52), C Ferer, M Fall (S N’Diaye 52), J Annery, G Hermet (captain, R Menager 61)), E Gros.
Referee: C Munarini (Italy).