Scotland felled by Elisalde's boot

Scotland A 13 France A 19
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The Independent Online

Scotland's second string regained some of their lost pride at Netherdale last night, but it still wasn't enough to defeat their slick French visitors.

After their record 60-point mauling in Belfast three weeks ago, drastic improvement was required and the home side will point to long periods of pressure either side of the interval as proof that the aim was achieved.

However, Scotland will need to become more clinical if they are to add to their solitary shadow Six Nations win when their campaign comes to an end in Wrexham next month.

Scotland's good work was spoiled by basic handling errors and poor passes. France spilled their share of possession too, but in fly-half Jean Baptiste Elisalde they had a sure-footed goalkicker and an expert snaffler of chances. Elisalde put his team six points in front with two penalties inside the first 15 minutes.

Scottish possession was scarce and when they did string a few passes together met a blue brick wall and generally lost ground.

Ross slotted over a penalty two minutes before the break, although Elisalde restored the French advantage immediately after the restart.

Olivier Sarramea blundered as he raced onto Elisalde's delicate chip behind Scottish lines, booting the ball to touch with the line at his mercy. But the visitors didn't have long to wait for their first touchdown, Elisalde nipping in at the blind side after taking Alexandre Albouy's short pass.

Scotland could easily have faded at that point but the introduction of the 20-year-old scrum-half Mike Blair revived their fortunes. Blair shot past a pile of bodies to grab a close range try within 60 seconds of his arrival. Ross converted, but France bounced back with a try from Sebastien Chabal.

Ross' second penalty dragged the Scots within striking distance 13 minutes from time. However, despite Blair's impressive promptings, Scotland couldn't find a way through.

Scotland A (3) 13, France A (6) 19. Scotland A: Try Blair; Conversion G Ross; Penalties G Ross 2. France A: Tries Elissalde, S Chabal; Penalties Elissalde 3. (1,200).

SCOTLAND A: Lee; Moir, Di Rollo, Utterson, R Kerr; G Ross, Burns; Smith, S Scott, G Kerr, Hines, Fullarton, A Dall, G Dall, Mower. Replacements: Brotherstone, McIlwham, N. Ross, Rennick, Blair, Officer, Bulloch.

FRANCE A: Heymans; Bomati, Chanal, Valbon, Sarramea; Elissalde, Albouy; Tolofua, Gaubert, Galasso, Thion, Couzinet, Goutta, S Chabal, Vermeulen. Replacements: Lacrouts, Bruno, Moro, Chouchan, Loustau, Peclier, Roque.

Referee: S Marco (Italy).