Rugby League: France 26 - 12 Scotland
France 26 Scotland 12
Scotland's European Cup hopes ended on a miserable afternoon in southern France but they left Albi with their heads held high after a fine defensive display against the tournament favourites.
France led 10-0 at the end of an attritional first-half, dominated by the forward packs and riddled with errors, as the constant drizzle made handling a challenge, and indiscipline in the ruck led referee Phil Bentham to award a raft of penalties.
The hosts had gone ahead after 11 minutes through left winger Fred Vaccari before the game degenerated into a midfield battle. It was 25 minutes later when France were rewarded for their marginally greater attacking flair, Tony Gigot evading Dale Ferguson's tackle to race home from 30 metres out, Nicolas Munoz adding the goal.
Within four minutes of the restart the deficit was just four points, second-rower Alex Szostak arrowing over on the right for his first international try, Danny Brough kicking the conversion to become the second highest points-scorer in Scotland rugby league history with 56.
Tries from Seb Martins and Munoz put France two scores ahead before Scotland finally found some coherence in attack when effervescent hooker Ben Fisher returned from the bench but they could not turn that into points. Instead, Mickael Simon took advantage of an error by debutant winger Dave Arnot to score and although Sam Barlow drove over to score his first try for Scotland with ten minutes left, there was little danger of a dogged Scotland scoring twice more.
France sealed victory on 75 minutes when lively hooker Kane Bentley reached over on the left. Having lost both their games, Scotland face Ireland in the wooden spoon game in Dublin on Sunday. Victory over Wales next Saturday will give France the title.
Scorers: France: Tries: Vaccari, Gigot, Martins, Simon, K Bentley. Goals: Munoz 3. Scotland: Tries: Szostak, Barlow. Goals: Brough 2.
France: 1. William Barthau, 2. Frdric Vaccari, 3. Jean-Philippe Baile, 4. Teddy Sadaoui, 5. Cyril Stacul, 6. Tony Gigot, 7. Nicolas Munoz, 8. Mickal Simon, 9. Kane Bentley, 10. Rmi Casty, 11. Olivier Elima, 12. Julien Touxagas, 13. Jason Baitieri. Subs: 14. Andrew Bentley, 15. Mathieu Griffi, 16. Sbastien Martins, 17. Romaric Bemba.
Scotland: 1 Lee Paterson, 2. Dave Arnot, 3. Joe Wardle, 4. Kevin Henderson, 5. Jon Steel, 6. Brendan Lindsay, 7. Danny Brough, 8. Oliver Wilkes, 9. Ben Fisher, 10, Mitch Stringer, 11. Alex Szostak, 12. Sam Barlow, 13. Dale Ferguson. Subs: 14. Andrew Henderson, 15. Paddy Coupar, 16. Neil Lowe, 17. Jack Howieson.
Referee: Phil Bentham (England).
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