FRANCE lived up to the pre-match assessment of Scotland’s head coach Gregor Townsend as currently the best team in the world.

BT Murrayfield was in fine voice as captain Rachel Malcolm and centre Helen Nelson – fresh from their 59-3 victory over Columbia in Dubai yesterday, which ensured qualification for the Rugby World Cup in New Zealand in October delivered the match ball.

Melvyn Jaminet missed an early penalty due to the gusting winds, but the visitors were soon in the lead after Paul Willemse crashed over for a try which Jaminet converted.

Straight from the restart, Hawick man Darcy Graham made an audacious mid-air catch and Scotland were soon on the board as Fin Russell kicked a penalty.

Jaminet then took advantage of the new 50:22 kick rule and from the resultant pressure Yoram Moefana crash over for the visitors’ second try, the left wing scoring on the right. Jaminet missed the conversion.

A challenge by Jaminet on Stuart McInally then had the Scots fans raging. Initially, referee Karl Dickson allowed play to continue but after checking with the TMO awarded Scotland a penalty and ruled that was sufficient sanction.

Ali Price appeared to be over for Scotland's first try, in spite of a high tackle but the ball had not been grounded.

Scotland were now camped in the French 22 and from Nick Haining’s surge, Price fed former Southern Knight Rory Darge who crashed over for his first try for Scotland on his first start. Russell converted.

Scotland then missed a great chance when Chris Harris threw a miss-two pass to Stuart Hogg but, agonisingly the ball spilled it forward and a golden try chance was lost for Scotland.

Just before the break France extended their lead when Fickou beat the tackles of Price and Haining to touch down at the corner flag and Jaminet converted from the touchline.

France extended their lead shortly after the break when a kick forward bounced awkwardly into the path of Jonathan Danty who ran in for the bonus point try. Jaminet grabbed the extras.

Penaud then romped in for try number five and although Jaminet missed the conversion everyone knew the game was lost.

France added a sixth try in 75 minutes after Romain Ntamack’s cross-field kick, found Penaud who had a simple task.

Scotland did pull back a try at the death after Blair Kinghorn’s break was rounded off by van der Merwe, who dotted down his tenth try for his country. Hogg converted.

But it was too little to late for the Scots and the French ran out 36-17 winners.