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Six Nations | Group Stage
Feb 10, 2024 at 2.15pm UK
White (7')
Fickou (31'), Bielle-Biarrey (70')

Preview: Scotland vs. France - prediction, team news, lineups

Sports Mole previews Saturday's Six Nations clash between Scotland and France, including predictions, team news and possible lineups.

After an exhilarating opening round in the 2024 Six Nations, the second round of matches will kick off with Scotland taking on France at Murrayfield on Saturday afternoon.

Scotland are in third place in the early standings after winning their opening match of the competition, while France suffered a big loss in their first match, which sees them start week two at the bottom of the table.

Match preview

Scotland's Huw Jones reacts on February 3, 2024© Reuters

While Scotland's victory last week marked a monumental occasion, breaking a 22-year dry spell in Cardiff, the manner in which they won the match against Wales was far from convincing.

The Scots seemed to have had the result in the bag less than five minutes into the second half when they opened up a 27-point lead, but the Dragons sprung into life from that point and cut the deficit to just 14 points after George Turner was sent to the sin bin.

In the 60th minute, Sione Tuipulotu received Scotland's second yellow card of the match as the relentless onslaught of the young Welshmen continued to attack their defensive line, but the experienced heads of Gregor Townsend's side managed to weather the storm and held off their opponents to claim a one-point victory.

Still, the manner in which the Scots capitulated in the second half of the match will be of major concern to Townsend, who will know that his side can ill-afford a similar performance against Les Bleus, who have won three of their last four matches between these sides.

Most neutrals would likely agree that this year presents Scotland with the opportunity to mount a title challenge, but to realise that ambition, they will need to defeat one of the heavyweights. Based on week one, they have a window of opportunity to achieve that feat this weekend.

France's Cyril Baille celebrates scoring their first try on October 15, 2023© Reuters

The main reason behind the belief in Scotland's chances here is that France looked flat and noticeably missed Antoine Dupont's tactical expertise and the overall brilliance he brings to the side as they slumped to a 38-17 defeat against defending champions Ireland.

Damien Penaud's try late in the first half briefly ignited hopes of a remarkable comeback for France. However, their aspirations were dashed as Ireland capitalised on their numerical advantage and delivered a commanding performance in Marseille.

That loss marked Les Bleus' biggest margin of defeat in any competition since Fabien Galthie assumed his role as head coach back in 2019 and saw the Irish become the out-and-out favourites to win the competition after just one match.

Still, on paper, France boasts a stronger squad, especially considering the injuries to two key Scottish forwards, but despite this advantage, there is ample room for improvement in their performance from last week.

Since 1910, these rugby powerhouses of the Northern Hemisphere have clashed a total of 103 times - France hold the clear advantage with 59 victories, while Scotland have managed 40 wins in that time.

Scotland Six Nations form:

  • W

Scotland form (all competitions):

  • W
  • L
  • W
  • W
  • L
  • W

France Six Nations form:

  • L

France form (all competitions):

  • W
  • W
  • W
  • W
  • L
  • L

Team News

Scotland's Rory Darge celebrates scoring their fourth try with teammates on September 29, 2023© Reuters

Lock Richie Gray and back row Luke Crosbie will be sidelined for the remainder of Scotland's 2024 Six Nations campaign due to injuries sustained in their thrilling opening-round victory against Wales.

However, Townsend will be able to welcome back flanker Rory Darge, who has returned from injury and has been thrust straight back into the starting lineup, while Jamie Ritchie has somewhat surprisingly been omitted for Saturday's showdown.

Galthie has introduced two alterations to his starting lineup for the upcoming match against Scotland at Murrayfield, starting with Louis Bielle-Biarrey, who is set to return to the starting lineup on the left wing, replacing Yoram Moefana.

In the pack, the only change comes in the second row, where Cameron Woki will step in for Paul Willemse, who is serving a suspension, while the front row remains unchanged, featuring the formidable props Uini Atonio and Cyril Baille, alongside the energetic Peato Mauvaka at hooker.

Scotland starting lineup: 15. Kyle Rowe, 14. Kyle Steyn, 13. Huw Jones, 12. Sione Tuipulotu, 11. Duhan van der Merwe, 10. Finn Russell (cc), 9. Ben White, 8. Jack Dempsey, 7. Rory Darge (cc), 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 starting lineup: 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 (c), 7. Charles Ollivon, 6. Francois Cros, 5. Paul Gabrillagues, 4. Cameron Woki, 3. Uini Atonio, 2. Peato Mauvaka, 1. Cyril Baille

Replacements: 16. Julien Marchard, 17. Sebastien Taofifenua, 18. Dorian Aldegheri, 19.osolo Tuilagi, 20. Alexandre Roumat, 21. Paul Boudehent, 22. Nolann Le Garrec, 23. Yoram Moefana

SM words green background

We say: Scotland 24-31 France

Scotland got their Six Nations campaign started with a narrow win over Wales, and many expect them to claim another victory on Saturday. However, while France were uncharacteristically disorganised in defence last time out and were made to pay for it, Galthie would have had a full week to address his side's issues, and we are expecting a response from Les Bleus this weekend.

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