France host Scotland at the Stade de France in the final round 2 game of the 2017 Six Nations.
Le Bleu will be looking to build on their solid showing against England when they host an extremely impressive Scottish outfit this Sunday. The visitors got their 2017 campaign off to an ideal start by defeating Ireland at Murrayfield in the opening game of the tournament.
So will Scotland continue to upset the odds or can the French register their first win of the campaign?
France v Scotland | Sunday 12 February | Stade de France | 17:00
To Win (80 Mins)
France 4/10 | Draw 22/1 | Scotland 2/1
France (-5.5) 9/10 | Scotland (+5.5) 9/10
Last week’s performance from Le Bleu would have warmed French Rugby fans hearts. Notorious for showing a lack of commitment, Guy Noves’ side smashed that unflattering stereotype by laying their bodies on the line for the blue jersey. Skipper Luis Picamoles personified this heart on sleeves approach with the mountain of an eight racking up some staggering stats including nine tackles and four offloads. He also carried the ball like a man possessed, beating seven defenders and making over 120 meters.
The French bruiser will need to replicate this sort of form against the Scots as this week’s visitors were brilliant on defence against Ireland. One of the battles of the tournament may actually come out at the Stade de France with the aforementioned Picamoles coming up against Scotland’s very own man mountain, Jonny Gray. While the duo won’t exactly square off in a positional sense, they are likely to have a few run-ins at ruck time and in the loose.
While the battle between the two packs will certainly have a huge say in who takes the points here,
it may come down to which of the two fly-halves have the better kicking performance, rather than who dominates the set piece and breakdown.
Jules Plisson, despite being absolutely broken by Courtney Lawes – go watch the YouTube video of the tackle, I promise it will be worth your time – put in a decent display with the boot last week, kicking three penalties and a conversion while Greig Laidlaw was magnificent for the Sots landing three conversions and a penalty.
The Scots really have come on in leaps and bounds under Vern Cotter’s stewardship. The New Zealand-born Cotter would have been left with a massive smile on his face after his side managed to down the Irish 27-22 in last week’s opener.
While one could argue that the catalyst for the victory was full-back Stuart Hogg – who scored two tries and continually asked questions of the Irish defence – the defensive effort of every single Scottish player got them over the line when Ireland were piling on the pressure in the second half.
This may sound extremely contradictory now, singling a player out for a defensive effort, but Jonny Gray really does need a mention. The gigantic lock made 28 tackles on Saturday. These are insane stats for a man who weighs in at 119 kilogrammes and spends the majority of his 80-minute shifts with his head stuck between a prop and a hooker’s rear ends. If he can replicate those stats this week, then the Scots may well frustrate the French and cause them to lose their heads.
The Stats That Matter
Scotland won this fixture 29-18 at Murrayfield last year. The game saw five tries scored with the Scots running in three and France dotting down twice. France won the previous five games, however, with three of these victories coming on home soil.
Games between these two tend to be close run affairs with seven points or less separating the sides in four of the last seven games.
Verdict: Scotland (+ 5.5) 9/10
This Scottish side really is something special. They have some of the northern hemisphere’s most in-form players and I really think they will give the French a run this Saturday. Get on the plus at 9/10.