Scotland’s Under 20s rediscovered their joie de vivre against France, with a red card having an influence for the third out of their four games.

As against England, it was Scotland’s opponents who were down to 14 and that meant the young Scots were able to get a foothold in the game which had previously eluded them.

Whatever the reason, being competitive in turn led to greater belief and determination which then led to a much improved performance compared to the Italian job.

Three tries from lineout drives, with captain Alex Samuels a reliable source of possession, even gave the Scots a sniff of a first victory in these championships, with hooker Patrick Harrison getting a brace and flanker Ollie Leatherbarrow the other.

That belief transcended numbers, for Scotland did not have numerical superiority for much of the game as they too lost players to a string of yellows – the forward pressure proving crucial for Les Bleuets.

“What was good was that they tried hard, it was a step in the right direction in terms of effort,” said head coach Sean Lineen.

“We scored three tries and the players got stuck in, but we were up against good players and when we made mistakes they scored from them.

“We are missing a lot of Under 20 guys, we had a Under 19 front row starting fir instance. These lads are learning the hard way at this level, but our players did have belief and that was a step forward.”

France raced into a 17-0 lead after 10 minutes, but then a yellow card for No 8 Theo Ntamack and, when he returned, a red for wing Enzo Reybier stopped that momentum. He was sent off for a dangerous near-tip tackle on Scotland centre Thomas Glendinning.

Scotland’s recovery saw them notch a try of their own, Harrison going over from a lineout drive. They even repeated it, same scorer, just before half-time though in between France had claimed a bonus point fourth try.

As in the first game against Ireland, the lineout was proving a source of strength, both in winning possession and the subsequent driving maul. Up against that, France were able to call on massive superiority in the scrum.

Scotland pulled back within 10 points thanks to Leatherbarrow and then had a series of lineout drives to try and close the gap even more. However France held out and the momentum swung back their way as a final two tries closed out the game.