Duncan Smith goes through our reasons to be optimistic when Scotland take on France at Murrayfield on Sunday.
1. We’re on a roll
Okay it was only our first win in ten Six Nations attempts. And it was Italy. And we’ve seen false dawns before. But the triumph in Rome came after a long time knocking on the door and hopefully the psychological boost of finally getting over the line can drive the Scots on to make it two from two.
2. This isn’t a vintage French side
New France coach Guy Noves has made some changes, notably restoring Francois Trinh Duc at stand-off and this could be the weekend Les Bleus click into gear. However, following a poor 2015 the French have looked clunky despite digging out close home wins over Italy and Wales. They are a side in transition and this must be viewed as a great opportunity for Scotland to register a first win over France since 2006.
3. Pack power
After being bossed by England in the opener, Scotland’s forwards have really upped their game, culminating in Rome when they absolutely dominated the always formidable Italian eight. The set scrum was rampant and the flanker pairing of John Barclay and John Hardie is on fire at the breakdown and offering tries. Richie Gray will be motivated to put in a big lineout performance against the country where he plays his club rugby and Josh Strauss offers increased physicality against the French, who will be tougher to break than the Italians. Ryan Wilson coming off the bench in the second half could also provide dynamism at a crucial stage.
4. Vern’s inside info
Scotland coach Vern Cotter is an expert on French rugby having played there in the 90s before enjoying a successful eight-year spell in charge of Clermont Auvergne. Under Cotter the Scots faced France twice in Paris last year, losing narrowly in the Six Nations and coming even closer in the World Cup warm-up when they went down 19-16 after spurning an opportunity to kick for a draw in the dying seconds. The Scots can draw confidence from those two performances and feel they can turn the visitors over on home turf.
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