A huge deficit in pace and power left the young Scots fighting a battle they could not possibly win – but the home team’s resilience, which saw them finish the match on the front foot, should be applauded.
The visitors took a 34-point lead into the break after a scrappy, bad-tempered first half, in which the highlight was undoubtedly the sublime dummy and sidestep from visiting stand-off Romain Ntamack – son of former French winger Emile – which opened up the park and ultimately led to winger Pierre Boudenhent going over in the corner for the second of his team’s four tries during this period.
The first and third French scores came through the power of the pack, with No 8 Maxence Lemardelet and hooker Maxime Lamothe getting the ball down after powerful forward drives, while the fourth try for Sacha Zegueur set alarm bells ringing because the blindside flanker was able to stroll through a huge gap to the right of a ruck in front of the posts and canter home unchallenged from 25 yards.
The second half couldn’t have got off to a worse start for Scotland, with Lucas Tauzin racing on to the French restart and barely breaking stride as he gathered the ball on his way to the line. Ntamack then released Tauzin with a brilliantly weighted cross-field kick, and after some slick inter-passing it was inside centre Adrian Seguret who got the score; and the same player scored again straight from the restart after a rampaging run from Lemardelet.
It looked like the wheels had come off, and it is to their enormous credit that the hosts managed to stem the flow, and even got the scoreboard ticking with two tries. The first came from Guy Graham burrowing over after a well taken lineout in the corner. Graham also got the second, bouncing between tacklers before eventually launching himself over the line.
Louis Carbonel took France past the 60-point mark with just over 60 minutes played, then Seguret added another try. At least the Scots had the last say, with a penalty try with five minutes remaining.