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A two-point win for France at Stade de France last weekend over current leaders Wales kept their hopes alive of ending their 10-year drought of lifting this title.
They do still trail Wayne Pivac’s men by five points and a 20 points difference, meaning they’ll need a bonus point victory (four or more tries) over Scotland this Friday as well as winning it by more than 20 points if they’re to secure the 2021 Six Nations title.
The Scots will certainly not be a blow over in this one though, especially with the English Premiership clubs striking a deal to allow five of their players to participate in this encounter.
Gregor Townsend’s men threw in a surprise performance when winning at Twickenham in the opening round of this tournament, but followed that up with defeats against both Wales and Ireland as their chances of Six Nations glory ended there.
However, that Welsh defeat did see them ahead at half time before a red card hampered their chances, while they just beat Italy by a huge 42-point margin last weekend, so they deserve to be respected.
Les Bleus have now won 10 of their 13 matches under Fabian Galthie and they don’t look like stopping there.
Only England at Twickenham (twice) and this Scottish team have been able to beat them, and considering one of those losses came when fielding a second-string side in the Autumn Nations Cup final against the Red Roses, while the other was following a first half red card against Townsend’s charges, we aren’t surprised to see them as favourites for this clash.
On team news, Scotland will be happy to welcome back Finn Russell and Adam Hastings, but Sean Maitland was looked past for the selection for this fixture due to the five player rule agreed with the English Premiership, while Jonny Gray is out through injury.
France, on the other hand, drop Teddy Thomas to the bench and move Gael Fickou to the wing, as Arthur Vincent gets a starting spot.
Scotland +16 Handicap
With that said, we are still surprised to see the handicap line as big as 16 points. Excluding Italy, only once has Galthie managed to win by more than 16 points and that came against a Welsh team in the midst of a six-game losing run by 38-21, and we’d expect the Scots to at least keep this competitive.
In fact, France have actually lost two of the last three meetings against Scotland, and although they’ll be aiming to overcome that 20-point margin, we feel that could almost work against them if anything, forcing kicks to the corner instead of taking the points when they’re on offer.
Only Ireland in Scotland’s opening game at the 2019 World Cup have managed to beat them by more than 16 points from their 17 matches in that time, and they look the value option to get behind.