Ross Rennie's facial expression in postgame interviews said it all. Man of the match in a hard-fought defeat to France, Rennie simply looked stunned. He wasn't the only one as the crowd's collective head hung low.
"We put another massive effort in," the steadfast open-side flanker lamented. "To come away with nothing, I think everyone is probably down."
Despite two difficult losses to open the 2012 Six Nations championship, this one seems harder to swallow. With so much promise and expectation, Andy Robinson's Scottish side opened the match with the brilliant early try that resulted from a great decision by the No. 10, Greig Laidlaw, to switch the ball that eventually found the 19-year-old sensation, Stuart Hogg, for the diving score.
A penalty put Scotland up 10-0 after their most complete 20 minutes of rugby in months. France proved resilient and stormed back to tie the encounter at 10-10 after a perfect penalty strike from Morgan Parra.
Level at the half, Murrayfield surged with excitement as Scotland looked finally looked to be playing to their potential.
An impressive series of driving efforts from the French No. 8, Louis Picamoles, led to another Parra kick, giving the visitors their first lead.
Replacement Richie Vernon galvanized the Scottish attack after coming on for Scotland stalwart David Denton, and a wonderful series of passes led to a Lee Jones try that wrenched the lead back for his team.
But missed tackles plagued the Scottish defence all game and ultimately lost the contest as Maxime Medard shattered Scotland's upset dreams on a try that was aided by poor wrap-ups from several Scottish players.
Down 20-17, Scotland conceded a late drop goal to Lionel Beauxis that sealed their fate.
Injuries to key players also contributed to the loss. Winger Rory Lamont was forced down awkwardly on a tackle in the second half and was carted off of the field on a stretcher with a broken leg. Virtually around the same point in the match, Laidlaw suffered a concussion and Mike Blair limped off the pitch with a dead leg.
Missing three key starters seemed to take the air out of the Scottish sails.
Left to regroup, Scotland will have to continue their quest for a Six Nations victory without the services of Lamont, who underwent surgery today, and Alasdair Strokosch, who sustained a broken hand two weeks ago against Wales.
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