Preview: Scotland v France

Scotland have an immediate chance for revenge this weekend when they welcome France to BT Murrayfield.

Scotland have an immediate chance for revenge this weekend when they welcome France to BT Murrayfield.

Downed in Nice last week, Gregor Townsend’s men’s first World Cup warm-up game did not exactly go to plan.

As a result, the head coach has rung the changes with only Stuart Hogg retained in the starting XV.

That means Finn Russell and Greig Laidlaw are back, as are Tommy Seymour and Sean Maitland in an experienced backline.

Up front Blade Thomson makes his long-awaited debut at No.8 either side of Hamish Watson and Ryan Wilson.

France by contrast have opted for continuity, despite this being the second of only three warm-up games for them, with only five changes from the side that won last weekend in Nice.

Guilhem Guirado returns as captain and hooker while staying in the pack Felix Lambey is in the engine room and Arthur Iturria back at flanker.

In the backline Thomas Ramos gets the nod at No.15 and his Toulouse teammate Sofiane Guitoune returns in midfield for the injured Wesley Fofana but otherwise France want to continue where they left off in their 32-3 win.

Keep an eye out therefore for Gregory Alldritt at No.8, he scored a double from the bench in the Championship clash against Scotland late on and added his third international try against the same opponents last week in Nice.

Alldritt – who has a Scottish father – starts at the base of the scrum again this weekend and his battle with debutant Thomson should make for fascinating viewing.

Scotland v France, Saturday 1:10pm, BT Murrayfield

Scotland head coach Gregor Townsend promised ‘a better performance’ this weekend following the Nice reversal:

“We referenced a game in the changing room where we missed a performance against Wales a year ago and turned round in a week with a very good performance against France.

“The physical drive has to be right across the team. The players know that and know that is what should happen every time they play for Scotland,” Townsend said.

“If last week was a reminder to us all that if you don’t do that, you are going to come to a big loss, then we don’t need another reminder.”

France assistant coach Julien Bonnaire: “Scotland have made a huge number of changes while we are looking for continuity. We are trying to achieve that now against a completely different opponent.

“They will want to put a lot of pace on the ball, we know what is coming, they are hurt after the defeat last week and that is a good test for us. We want to see how our team reacts.”

Gael Fickou gave Scotland the run around in Paris during the Guinness Six Nations clash between the two sides earlier this year.

His budding partnership with Wesley Fofana impressed last weekend but, after injury to Fofana and Geoffrey Doumayrou, Fickou partners with Guitoune this weekend.

Up against Fickou this week is the sizeable form of Chris Harris, who has impressed all the Scotland coaches in pre-season – both in attack and defence.

With Huw Jones yet to nail down the No.13 jersey and Rory Hutchinson gaining ground fast, now is the time for Harris to prove himself at this level.

Scotland: 15 Stuart Hogg, 14 Tommy Seymour, 13 Chris Harris, 12 Pete Horne, 11 Sean Maitland, 10 Finn Russell, 9 Greig Laidlaw (captain), 8 Blade Thomson, 7 Hamish Watson, 6 Ryan Wilson, 5 Sam Skinner, 4 Scott Cummings, 3 Willem Nel, 2 George Turner, 1 Gordon Reid. Replacements: 16 Grant Stewart, 17 Allan Dell, 18 Simon Berghan, 19 Grant Gilchrist, 20 John Barclay, 21 George Horne, 22 Rory Hutchinson, 23 Blair Kinghorn.

France: 15 Thomas Ramos, 14 Damian Penaud, 13 Gaël Fickou, 12 Sofiane Guitoune, 11 Alivereti Raka, 10 Camille Lopez, 9 Antoine Dupont, 8 Grégory Alldritt, 7 Charles Ollivon, 6 Arthur Iturria, 5 Sébastien Vahaamahina, 4 Félix Lambey, 3 Rabah Slimani, 2 Guilhem Guirado (captain), 1 Jefferson Poirot. Replacements: 16 Camille Chat, 17 Cyril Baille, 18 Emerick Setiano, 19 Romain Taofifenua, 20 Yacouba Camara, 21 Baptiste Serin, 22 Romain Ntamack, 23 Maxime Médard