Scotland bounce back in style to crush France in Bowl final
Stephen Gemmell’s team finally turn it on after poor pool performances leave them wanting
Uninspiring performances early in the tournament cost Scotland the chance to step up against the top teams but they put it together on Sunday to dominate France in a 31-5 whipping in the Bowl final.
"We wanted to put ourselves in the top eight this weekend and we fell short … but we can only compete against the teams in front of us and we've done that today," said satisfied coach Stephen Gemmell.
It looked positive for France in the early minutes of the final, as pint-sized Terry Bouhraoua took advantage of a Scottish lapse in concentration to run the length of the pitch for the first - and only - French try.
Unfazed, the Scots kept their head and responded ferociously, forcing sloppy plays from Les Blues before Scotland's Andrew Turnbull found space to score. He did it again in the final seconds of the half, taking the Scots to a comfortable 14-5 lead.
Scotland continued their momentum while France floundered in the second half. The Scots scored three tries in quick succession to bring the final score to 31-5 - an improvement on Hong Kong turf compared to last year's loss against Argentina in the Shield semi-finals.
French coach Frederic Pomarel blamed the loss of five key players through injury, including captain Vincent Deniau and Manoel Dall'Igna.
"There was no discipline," he lamented. "All my players put up a good fight, but it is not enough … concentration and respect for the game is also important."
Gemmell admitted to being "very disappointed" to miss a chance to play for the Plate after a narrow loss to Samoa in a pool match on Saturday, but commended his team for getting their act together, pointing to their potential to improve.
"We just didn't turn up against Samoa. It's always a challenge in a tournament like this just to get the boys back up for it - all credit to them," he said.
"If we do the basics right we give ourselves a chance against just about anybody. If we're off our game, we get punished.
"They've had three good victories against three quality teams today. It doesn't make up for yesterday, but it makes life a bit sweeter and gives us a platform for going into our own tournament," added Gemmell.
Scotland lost two of their three pool games against New Zealand and Samoa, beating the USA, but improved yesterday to beat Kenya and Argentina to book their place in the Bowl final.
Gemmell said he would target the team's decision-making and patience before playing on home ground in Glasgow in May.
"We sometimes get a little bit frantic when we've not had the ball for a period of time and we try to force things. We need to be a bit more patient," he said.
Pomarel, meanwhile, is praying for the return of important players and hopes to expand his team to be more competitive on the world stage in future.
"Without injury, why not fight for fourth place? I think top three is impossible for France - if we, are lucky."