Kenny Murray believes Scotland U20s showed too much respect to France in the first half of their defeat in the Six Nations but he was proud of how his players responded after half time.

The young Scots were 26-0 down at half time and in a match eerily similar to Scotland’s win over Wales at senior level last week, they came out flying in the second half put two tries on the board and looked like they were fighting their way back in. The French had a big crowd behind them at the Hive and they got their only score of the second half from a penalty and the U20 World Champions knew they were in a game.

And Murray was delighted with how the players responded after a disappointing opening 40 minutes where they conceded four tries and things could have been different if Isaac Coates’ kicking game was on point with the fly-half missing four opportunities to put Scotland into the France 22.

READ MORE: Scotland 14-29 France: U20s suffer Six Nations defeat

The Scotland head coach defended his player though and insisted it was a learning curve for him but he was proud of the performance overall against a big France team who at one point looked like they could score whatever they wanted.

He said: “We showed a bit too much respect in the first half. We focused on ourselves but we probably didn’t play enough in the first half. I thought we pressurised them with our kicking game but a few soft tries. We missed a tackle and they score, we got a bit narrow because we didn’t work hard enough to get wide and at international level we get punished. We had opportunities to get ourselves in good positions but we obviously didn’t do that.

“We spoke at half time about going out and having a go. We knew it was physical and I’ve said to the boys we fronted up really well. We had some good collisions and we spoke about going at them again. We won the second half 14-3 so that’s good for ourselves. They’ve guys playing for Bordeaux and Lyon and that’s the reality, it’s a tough learning environment. I can’t fault the effort. I’m really proud of how they played and particularly the physicality side of it. 

“That’s the thing with the French, it’s not about the 15, their match day 23 are all big. We were a wee bit battered and bruised towards the end but we matched them toe to toe. It’s tough when you’re having to defend phase after phase but the boys didn’t take a backwards phase.

“I remember here two years ago they beat us with 13 men. They got two red cards. From a kicking game Isaac will be disappointed. We missed four kicks that would have put us into the 22 that we get a catch and drive and we score. I don’t want to talk about Isaac and it’s not fair to write about him either because he’s a young boy but that’s international rugby, consequences of errors get you punished.

“That’s what we said, we look to build every game we play. We will take confidence from it. Guys like Liam lead by example physically. We’ve got light training and will do some with the national team later in the week as well to get better intensity.”