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RBS 6 Nations: Beaten Scots are men of few words

THERE was only one word to describe the feelings in the Scottish camp.

"Gutted," was the simple answer from Scott Johnson, the coach, after the game. Seconds later, Kelly Brown, the captain echoed the feeling. "Yes, gutted," he said.

Johnson is known for his long, often off-the-wall commentaries on games and performances, but this time he could not work himself up to a state of real animation until he found himself on the subject of referees in general, observing that it had been the 13-5 penalty count against his team that had really killed them, not the single kick at the end that broke Scottish hearts.

It was a cruel way for Scotland to end the game and for once the Johnson wisecracks were missing as he tried to cope with the emotions of a game where Scotland had been leading with the ball deep in French territory with less than five minutes on the clock only for successive penalties to hand the opposition the result.

"It is part of the growing pains, that is the way it is," he said. "We were on the back of an 11-2 penalty count in the first 60 minutes. Then we throw an intercept, a 14-point turnaround really, it is a fickle world in this sport. Last week we on the other end of a last-minute score. It is growing pains and those growing pains hurt.

"We all get a bit frustrated, that is a game we should have won, there is no doubt about it, we were the better team. We showed great resolve on the back of that penalty count to be in that contest and dominate that contest. Sometimes the scoreboard does not always reflect these things."

He also gave Duncan Weir his full vote of confidence despite the fly- half throwing the interception that let France into the game and missing a long-range late penalty that would have given Scotland a cushion.

"You look at the guy's character, he stood up and kicked the kick that put us back in front. There is character, sometimes it is not execution but character and I can work with that. We have backed him, he has a basic skillset that we like. OK, wrong option, wrong execution but good resolve and I'll take that."

As for why Scotland are consistently being penalised out of games, he claimed to be mystified not so much by the individual decisions but how it happened in such an even game. "We have go to look at ourselves first and foremost," he said. "Two weeks on the bounce it has happened. Fifty-fifties, when the competition is as close as it is, how do you justify as big a swing as that? That's what I want to know.

"There are just too many against us in important parts of the field."

For Brown, emotional devastation was still dominating his thoughts. "We showed quite a lot of control and it was just very, very disappointing to lose it in those circumstances. I am so incredibly proud of the boys in terms of the work rate and some of our play. I thought the crowd were incredible, I am just sorry we could not give them that win," he said.

It was a strange match for Stuart Hogg, delighted to get another try when his speculative high kick caused chaos in the French defence and he got the ball first - but upset at the final result.

"The boys are devastated, I thought we controlled the game for long periods and we are gutted to come away with a slender defeat," he said.

"To get that penalty count against us is poor on our behalf. We pride ourselves on our discipline, but that gives them easy possession and easy territory and lost us the game. We are pretty down, but we will pick ourselves up again. We have the Welsh next week, they will be fighting for the title no doubt so it is up to us to go down and represent our country as best as we can.

"We knew how the ref was going to control the game and we ended up doing the direct opposite in many ways. We let ourselves down and it has cost us. We had good set-piece ball on the front foot, the boys really stood up and gave us a good platform, but it is up to us as a collective to finish it off."

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