Scotland head coach Gregor Townsend was proud of his team after they went agonisingly close to sealing back-to-back victories over France in Saint-Etienne.
Townsend’s men had defeated Les Bleus 25-21 at Murrayfield a week ago and almost followed that up with a win on French soil on Saturday before going down 30-27.
Scotland outscored France by four tries to three at Stade Geoffroy-Guichard, and Townsend was pleased with how his charges matched up well with the World Cup hosts.
Plenty of positives
“It showed a lot for the character and the competitiveness of the group,” he said, with the Scots coming from 27-10 down to level before Les Bleus won with a penalty.
“They wanted to win that one, they did all they could to win it. Obviously, we’re a bit disappointed that we didn’t do that.
“Even a draw would have been something that we could have taken a lot more positives out of, because we’re here to win. But there’s so much more to come from this team.
“We showed in the first 15 minutes and the last 15 minutes that we can win ball, our set-piece can be strong, and also we can attack and score great tries. So our job is to put that together for more than 20-30 minutes when we’re playing at our best, but also to do that for much longer.”
Scotland were 10-6 up with half-an-hour played, but Ali Price’s yellow card led to France seizing control as they scored tries in the 31st, 41st and 43rd minute.
Coach Townsend rued leaking two tries in the first four minutes of the second half, but was encouraged by the way his players rallied in the final 20 minutes.
“I’m really proud of the effort and also how we started the game,” he said. “We were ambitious, accurate and very physical in our contacts. We had to soak up a lot of pressure in that first half when we were a man down.
“But we just missed the first five minutes of the second half. A couple of uncharacteristic mistakes and France got opportunities. I was so proud of the togetherness, the effort, the skill that was on show, and we’re gutted we didn’t get anything out of that. Really disappointed.”
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Townsend will announce his final 33-man squad for the Rugby World Cup on Wednesday, as four players from his current group are poised to face the painful axe.
The coach was asked if anything from the defeat at Stade Geoffroy-Guichard had changed his thinking with regard to selection, to which he gave an honest reply.
Proud of performance
“No. I’ve not had much time to think about it. I was really proud of the 23 tonight and how they went about taking on a top side. Their focus was on winning the game, not on the World Cup,” he said.
“They put their bodies on the line. The effort that the players have put in over the last two months was transferred on to the field.
“We’re fit enough to have a real crack at this World Cup and we’ll have a lot of players that will be putting their hands up for selection over the next few days.”