France v Scotland: Unpredictable hosts can claim first win of Six Nations campaign
France have lost their opening two Six Nations games and Simon Mail previews their third match as they host Scotland in Paris...
"Scotland have a wretched record in France and the visitors will have to overcome their injury woes to pull off a first win in Paris for 20 years. The last ten games between the teams in France have been won by the hosts."
France v Scotland
Live on BBC One
France searching for inspiration
France are still searching for their first win in the Six Nations this season after losing their opening two matches. After surging into a 16-0 lead against Wales, France capitulated in front of their own fans to lose 24-19. It got even worse the following weekend after France were thrashed 44-8 by England at Twickenham.
Jacques Brunel has opted to go with youth against Scotland after bringing in 19-year-old Romain Ntamack at fly-half and Antoine Dupont at scrum-half in place of Camille Lopez and Morgan Parra. Thomas Ramos makes his first international start after the full-back impressed as a replacement on his debut against England. Wenceslas Lauret replaces Yacouba Camara as blindside flanker.
Scotland needing response after Irish defeat
Scotland started their campaign with a comfortable victory over Italy but their title hopes were derailed in the second round after losing 22-13 to Ireland at Murrayfield. Costly mistakes, particularly with the ball in hand, held them back and the champions took their chances to send Scotland to a rare home defeat.
Gregor Townsend lost Stuart Hogg to a shoulder injury during the defeat to Ireland and the Scotland boss suffered another setback in the buildup to this game after fly-half Finn Russell was ruled out. The playmaker was forced off with a head injury during Racing 92's match last weekend and has not recovered in time for the France game. Losing both Hogg and Russell is a huge blow to their hopes of winning in Paris.
Peter Horne will take over at fly-half in the absence of Russell this weekend. Blair Kinghorn, who scored a hat-trick in the win over Italy, returns to the side at full-back for the injured Hogg. Scotland have been hit hard by injuries with centre Huw Jones sidelined and replaced by Nick Grigg. Magnus Bradbury also comes in at blindside-side flanker for the sidelined Ryan Wilson.
Travel sickness could strike again for Scots
Scotland have a wretched record in France and the visitors will have to overcome their injury woes to pull off a first win in Paris for 20 years. The last ten games between the teams in France have been won by the hosts which emphasises the troubles Scotland have faced on the road. France's overall record against Scotland has seen them win 11 of the last 13 clashes.
Despite France's miserable run of three wins in their last 19 Tests, the hosts are favourites for this weekend's match. It is no surprise considering the absentees in the Scotland team and their own struggles away from home. This looks a big opportunity for France to claim a much-needed victory and lift their spirits after a dismal loss at Twickenham.
With Hogg and Russell missing, it is difficult to be confident in Scotland ending their winless run at the Stade de France. A feature of their recent clashes have been tight scorelines with France's last six victories over them coming by single figure margins. The handicap mark is only six points so another close encounter looks likely and a France win by no more than 12 points looks the best bet.
Follow Simon's bets on Twitter @watfordtipster
P/L 2018-19 season