Scotland (6) 18
Tries: Steel, Wilkes, Colton Goals: Brough 3
France (18) 36
Tries: Taylor, Guisset 2, Wilson, Raguin, Moly Goals: Bosc 6
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Highlights: Scotland 18-36 France
France proved too strong for Scotland in the opening Group B match of Rugby League's World Cup in Canberra.
Scotland's Jonathan Steel cancelled out an early Jared Taylor try, but Jerome Guisset and John Wilson gave the French a comfortable 18-6 half-time lead.
Oliver Wilkes and Dean Colton twice cut the deficit but Sebastien Raguin ensured France remained a score ahead.
Guisset added a superb effort five minutes from time and Christophe Moly wrapped things up for the French.
France next face Fiji on Saturday, while Scotland will look to get their first win against the same opponents on 5 November.
And Scotland can take plenty of encouragement into the fixture after giving the French a run for their money.
It was a game in which both teams made plenty of unforced errors, while a high tackle count ensured that the match often lacked rhythm.
At times Steve McCormack's team appeared to be out on their feet and lacked the physicality of their opponents but they remained in contention until the final minutes.
Colton's score after 62 minutes reduced the deficit to 24-18 and an unlikely win seemed to be on the cards.
John Duffy touched down again shortly afterwards but the score was ruled out by the video referee and minutes later the impressive Guissett ripped the ball from the grasp of Michael Robertson before crashing over the decisive score.
A clean break from Sebastien Raguin was followed by excellent support play for Christophe Moly to score in the final move of the game and lend the scoreboard a slightly flattering appearance for the French side.
However, half-back pairing Thomas Bosc and Maxime Greseque showed with their swift hands and adept kicking that they have the skills to ensure France should be able to improve on their opening performance.
And France coach John Monie said his side will get better as the tournament progresses.
"We were a little bit like England against the Papuans in that it wasn't as good as we'd like," said Monie.
We had our chance at the back end of the game to get some good field positions - we didn't do that
Scotland coach Steve McCormack
"Scotland were very strong and played well. Our stats guy told me they had just one handling error in the second half, so we had to do something right to get some points in the second half."
Opposite number McCormack was unhappy that Wilson's try was allowed to stand after Duncan MacGillivray was knocked out in a collision during the build-up.
"When somebody is lying on the floor like that with trainers and physios around them, we generally stop the game," he commented.
"Even the French players were calling for the referee to stop the game. It was disappointing, but we had a long time to get that score back afterwards and we didn't."
McCormack added: "We had our chance at the back end of the game to get some good field positions when there was six points in it. We didn't do that, and only had ourselves to blame."
Scotland: Robertson, Colton, Cowan, K Henderson, Steel, Duffy, Brough (capt), Logan, I Henderson, Jackson, Morrison, MacGillivray, Paterson. Replacements: Wilkes, Armit, Nanyn, A Henderson.
France: Taylor, Murphy, Wilson, Raguin, Sadaoui, Bosc, Greseque, Fellous, Rinaldi, Elima, Guisset (capt), Anselme, Mounis. Replacements: Wynne, Casty, Fakir, Moly.