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Scotland v France - teams and predictions

ROUND TWO PREVIEW: France heads to Edinburgh this weekend with a bruised ego, a head coach under the cosh, and a point to prove in the Second Round of the Six Nations against Scotland.

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Scotland will be seeking to claim a major scalp after a shaky narrow victory over Wales last weekend.

The French are under immense pressure, there is no getting around that. This is the time for Galthie to show he is still the man for the job, even if he has to do it without the iconic Antoine Dupont.

Another bad result in the Scottish capital this weekend will kill any French hopes of a title.

The two teams had contrasting results on the opening weekend. Scotland avoided an almighty scare to edge over the line against Wales, while France were humbled in their backyard by Ireland.

This will be the 103rd time that these nations have collided in rugby since 1910. The advantage rests with France, who have recorded 59 victories compared to the 40 successes recorded by the Scots.

Scotland were made to work incredibly hard to achieve a first victory against Wales in Cardiff in 22 years, despite having led 27-0 after 43 minutes. But it must have left head coach Gregor Townsend and his staff with more questions than answers.

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They will be relieved to be back on home turf, but Murrayfield is a ground France have fond memories of, having won in Edinburgh two years ago.

“France know they didn’t play their best rugby against Ireland, so we’ll get a reaction,” said Townsend.

“We know they are a quality team, still top three or four in the world… We’ll have to be at our best level physically. The previous games have opened up, which suits the strengths of our players.”

France head to Edinburgh off the back of a humiliating 17-38 defeat to Grand Slam favourites Ireland.

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The Les Blues has never lost three matches in a row under Galthie, and they will work hard not to hit that dubious milestone this weekend.

Without their talismanic captain Dupont, it could take them some time to find the kind of form that has made them so brilliant in recent years. But if anyone has the players to find a solution, it is Galthie.

“We are competitors, we want to win every game,” said Galthie, adding: “The values of our sport teach us to be stronger together… Obviously, when you lose you criticise the game.

“It’s often in difficult moments that we find the extra resources to perform better. Our journey hasn’t been easy. There’s not a single player or coach that has had an easy path to get here.”

Scotland will be without Luke Crosbie and Richie Gray for the remainder of the Six Nations, while Grant Gilchrist returns this weekend. Meanwhile, France will be without Paul Willemse, who will serve the first of his two-match ban on Saturday.

Players to watch

For Scotland: Finn Russell will be eager to find even the cracks in the French wall. He needs to be the general in all aspects of the game. Jack Dempsey is the hard-working back-rower who will go at the French on all sides and while is also valuable with ball in hand. Duhan van der Merwe goes out every week to score tries. And the big man never disappoints. He will be testing the defensive ailibities of French wing Damian Penaud, lining up across from him this weekend.

For France: Scrumhalf Maxime Lucu is under the spotlight, having to fill the big boots of Dupont. He can be a classy operator, but in round one he failed to deliver. Let’s see if he can set the record straight. Francois Cros, the bulldozing Frenchman, will aim to come out on top in his duel with Rory Darge, fresh back from injury.

Prediction

@rugby365com: France by seven points

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Scotland v France - teams and predictions

Teams:

Scotland: 15 Kyle Rowe, 14 Kyle Steyn, 13 Huw Jones, 12 Sione Tuipulotu, 11 Duhan van der Merwe, 10 Finn Russell (captain), 9 Ben White, 8 Jack Dempsey, 7 Rory Darge (captain), 6 Matt Fagerson, 5 Scott Cummings, 4 Grant Gilchrist, 3 Zander Fagerson, 2 George Turner, 1 Pierre Schoeman
Replacements: 16 Ewan Ashman, 17 Alec Hepburn, 18 Elliot Millar-Mills, 19 Sam Skinner, 20 Andy Christie, 21 George Horne, 22 Ben Healy, 23 Cameron Redpath

France: 15 Thomas Ramos, 14 Damian Penaud, 13 Gael Fickou, 12 Jonathan Danty, 11 Louis Bielle-Biarrey, 10 Matthieu Jalibert, 9 Maxime Lucu, 8 Gregory Alldritt (captain), 7 Charles Ollivon, 6 Francois Cros, 5 Paul Gabrillagues, 4 Cameron Woki, 3 Uini Antonio, 2 Peato Mauvaka, 1 Cyril Baille.
Replacements: 16 Julien Marchand, 17 Sebastien Taofifenua, 18 Dorian Aldegheri, 19 Posolo Tuilagi, 20 Alexandre Roumat, 21 Paul Boudehent, 22 Nolann Le Garrec, 23 Yoram Moefana.

Date: Saturday. February 10
Venue: Murrayfield, Edinburgh
Kick-off: 14.15 (15.15 CET; 14.15 GMT)
Weather Forecast: There is going to be some typical Scottish weather as it is predicted to be cold and rainy on Saturday afternoon. The Scots will have more experience playing in such weather, so they should have the advantage in this regard.
Referee: Nic Berry (Australia)
Assistant referees: Nika Amashukeli (Georgia), Jordan Way (Australia)
TMO: Brian MacNeice (Ireland)

Additional source @AFP

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