Simon Mail previews the latest Six Nations action with leaders France putting their unbeaten record on the line in Scotland...
"France have been deemed a soft touch in previous years, with too many weak performances, but the arrival of Shaun Edwards as defence coach, alongside Fabien Galthie has galvanised this team."
Scotland v France
Live on BBC One
French revolution gathers pace under Galthie
While the Six Nations faces a scheduling headache following the postponement of Ireland and England's games against Italy due to the coronavirus, France have their destiny in their own hands after winning their opening three games. Fabien Galthie's first campaign in charge has gone mightily impressively and Les Bleus are on course to win the title for the first time in ten years.
France have been deemed a soft touch in previous years, with too many weak performances, but the arrival of Shaun Edwards, as defence coach, alongside Galthie has galvanised this team. The Grand Slam remains a realistic target with a trip to Scotland this weekend followed by a final home match against Ireland in Paris.
Their opening victory against World Cup finalists England set the tone and highlighted the attacking flair throughout this emerging, young side. France lacked fluency at times in their win against Italy but showed their mettle to edge out champions Wales in a 27-23 win in Cardiff. Fly-half Romain Ntamack contributed 17 points, including their third try, in their first victory in Wales for a decade.
Scotland looking to build on Rome win
Scotland have endured a difficult championship, off the back of their failure at last year's World Cup, with the Finn Russell saga dominating the headlines. The relationship between the fly-half and coach Gregor Townsend has completely broken down and he has played no part in the Six Nations with Scotland shorn of their most talented individual.
After tight defeats in Ireland and against England, Scotland got off the mark with a 17-0 victory in Italy. Stuart Hogg led the way with the captain scoring a superb individual try for the visitors. Despite failing to secure a bonus point, Townsend will have been relieved to secure a much-needed win which eased the pressure on his shoulders.
Scotland will take confidence from their recent record at Murrayfield after beating France in their last three home matches. The most recent meeting between the teams came in Scotland last summer with the hosts edging to a 17-14 victory. But this France team has progressed significantly under their new coaching team and Scotland can expect a much tougher test this weekend.
France are rightly favourites for the game with their unbeaten record in this year's Six Nations justifying this status. Scotland have certainly been competitive during the tournament, not losing by more than seven points, but could find this a step too far for them. The hosts will have to be clinical if they are to end France's unbeaten run but it is hard to be confident in Scotland's chances.
The Six Nations leaders have a potent backline which should prove too strong but the hosts, who have conceded the fewest points in the competition, can keep it close at Murrayfield. France should ultimately find a way through Scotland's defence to win by no more than 12 points keeping Galthie's side on course for the Grand Slam.
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Back France to win by 1-12 points at [2.86]