Steve McCormack and Mark Aston deserve plaudits for their coaching work, with both of their teams showing that international rugby league on the Celtic Fringe can have a bright future, when the right people are given proper support.
Richard Agar’s men put right some of the mistakes of the past two games, with a rousing display of attacking rugby.
French halfback Remy Marginet was very much to the fore, scoring a 14-minute hat trick and finishing with 22 points, as he claimed a justified man of the match award.
Les Bleus ran in seven tries in 24 minutes, and it looked for a while as though Scotland‘s dreams of glory we well and truly in tatters. The half-time score was 38-6 to the visitors.
“At half time we told a few home truths, that wasn’t the Scotland way in the first half,” said coach Steve McCormack.
“But credit to France, everything they did was good. We asked the lads for a bit more honesty and reminded them we had an awful lot to play for and the second half was sensational.”
McCormack ralled his men, and a late surge of effort saw them reduce the margin of defeat to less than 17 points – the deficit required to still cling on to the title.
The Scots did not concede a point in the second half, and tries from Hellewell, Adam Walker and, in the last two minutes, Jonny Walker, took them back to the top of the tournament table on points difference.
1 Oscar Thomas, 2 David Scott, 3 Ben Hellewell, 4 Joe Wardle, 5 Alex Hurst, 6 Danny Brough (c), 7 Nathan Massey, 8 Adam Walker, 9 Danny Addy, 10 Jonathan Walker, 11 Sonny Esslemont, 12 Corbyn Kilday, 13 Ben Kavanagh
Tries: Kavanagh (3), Hellewell (63), A. Walker (75), J. Walker (77)
Goals: Brough 3
1 Mathias Pala, 2 Tony Gigot, 3 Aurelien Decarnin, 4 Damien Cardace, 5 Frederic Vaccari, 6 Theo Fages, 7 Remy Marginet, 8 Jamal Fakir, 9 Antony Maria, 10 Michael Simon, 11 Kevin Larroyer, 12 Benjamin Garcia, 13 Jason Baltieri (c)
14 Eloi Pelissier, 15 Jean-Philippe Baile, 16 Julian Bousquet, 17 Aaron Wood
Tries: Marginet (14, 22, 28), Baitieri (19), Pelissier (24), Decarnin (34), Gigot (38)
Goals: Marginet 5
Half time: 6-38
Referee: Richard Silverwood (England)
Ireland launched an intense attack on Wales in the first half, notching up a 16-0 lead after just 18 minutes. Tries from Ben Johnston, Will Hope and Brad Hargreaves blitzed the young Welsh line-up, and stirred hope of an unlikely title tilt in Irish hearts.
The 41-point margin of victory that Mark Aston’s men needed to become European champions certainly looked in reach by the time that the referee blew his whistle for half time.
Liam Finn, having returned to the Irish line-up after injury ruled him out of the first two games of the tournament, was instrumental in almost everything the boys in green did.
The Castleford halfback scored Ireland‘s fifth try just before the break, with his four conversions giving his team a 28-0 lead at the interval.
Casey Dunne scored Ireland‘s eighth try, with Finn’s conversion putting the men in green just five points away from the title.
1 Tom Hughes, 3 Dalton Grant, 21 Lewis Reece, 11 Christiaan Roets, 19 Rhys Williams, 6 Ollie Olds, 10 Peter Lupton (c), 34 Byron Smith, 18 Matty Fozard, 12 Matty Barron, 31 Ricky Hough, 7 Ashley Bateman, 13 Daniel Fleming
Tries: Williams (46), Grant (62), Hughes (79)
Goals: Reece 1/2, Emanuelli 0/1
1 Shannon McDonnell, 2 Brad Hargreaves, 3 Haydn Peacock, 4 Stuart Littler, 5 Casey Dunne, 6 Ben Johnston, 7 Liam Finn, 8 Robbie Mulhern, 9 Bob Beswick, 10 Luke Ambler, 11 Will Hope, 12 Josh Toole, 13 Callum Casey
Tries: Hope (4), Hargreaves (12, 30, 50), Ambler (18), Finn (38), Peacock (72), Dunne (78)
Goals: Finn 7/8
Referee: Ben Thaler (England)
Scotland are crowned European champions for the first time ever, securing a place in the 2016 Four Nations.
Wales, Ireland and France will participate in the 2016 European Championship, alongside the winners of the 2014-15 European Championship B competition. That competition is currently topped by Serbia, who are competing against Russia, Italy and Ukraine.