Wales skipper Tommy Reffell says world champions France showed their ability to move up through the gears as they recorded a 32-10 victory on the opening weekend of the Under-20s Six Nations.
Leicester Tigers flanker Reffell captained Wales as they led early on and were still locked at 10-10 approaching half-time before the hosts started to pull away in Vannes.
"It was awesome to play in front of a sell-out crowd and against a great team. We are disappointed, but we can take a lot out of it," said Reffell who had club colleague Sam Costelow for company in the matchday squad for the start of the championship.
"We still thought we were in touching distance at half-time, but credit to them they are a really good outfit. They probably felt they needed to go up a gear in the second half and they did.
"They had a big impact off the bench and I think they will push on and do well in this tournament. We need to push on and build on the positives.
"We are almost there and we thought our fitness levels would come through in the end. Italy beat us last year and now we have to go over there and right some wrongs."
France, who won the Six Nations and World Rugby Junior Championship last year, scored four tries in the end to pick up a bonus-point win, though Reffell and back-row partner Taine Basham led by example for the Welsh at Stade de la Rabine.
There was no luck, either, for Tom Hardwick and Joe Heyes in the England squad as they lost 35-27 to Ireland in a thrilling encounter in Cork.
England held a four-point lead at half-time with tries from Cadan Murley, Tom Willis and Josh Hodge as well nine points from the boot of Marcus Smith. Ireland crossed twice scoring tries from Dylan Tierney-Martin and Scott Penny, with Harry Byrne kicking 10 points.
A second from Tierney-Martin and points from Byrne gave Ireland the lead and they sealed victory with Cormac Foley’s late converted score after Hardwick had contributed a penalty.
England face France at Sandy Park, Exeter, in their second game next Saturday.
Tigers prop Sam Grahamslaw started in the front row for Scotland as they were beaten 32-22 by Italy in their opening game.