Deflated Scots 'must-win' against France

Wed, 07 Feb 2018 19:33
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SIX NATIONS SPOTLIGHT: Scotland wing Sean Maitland is in no doubt about the importance of Sunday's Six Nations clash against France, labelling the Murrayfield match a "must-win" game for both sides.

The Scots entered the tournament with high hopes after a promising November campaign, only to be overwhelmed 7-34 by Wales in a lopsided opener in Cardiff last weekend.

France too were beaten first-time out, although in their case they suffered the agony of succumbing to a last-ditch Johnny Sexton drop-goal against Ireland in Paris when it seemed they would give Jacques Brunel a win in his first game as boss of Les Bleus.

It's a moot point which of the two teams now feel more deflated - Scotland for being thoroughly outplayed in a game where they were almost 'nilled' or France for having victory snatched from their grasp at the finish.

"They [France] were very unlucky," Maitland, in line to replace the injured Byron McGuigan, said.

"If you take a spanking or lose like that, I'm not sure how you'd like to lose - those [French] boys looked like they were hurting after the game. They're in a similar situation to us, both picked up losses first up and we can't afford to lose a second game."

The New Zealand-born flyer, who plays his club rugby for European champions Saracens, added: "We know this is a really important game. The good thing for us is we're playing at home, our form over the last two years has been really good playing at home.

"It's a must-win game,"

There were many who felt Maitland was unlucky to be omitted from Scotland coach Gregor Townsend's starting XV against Wales in favour of McGuigan, a Six Nations debutant, in Cardiff.

But the Sale back's injury means Maitland, in the side that beat Australia in November, is poised to regain his place and win a 31st Scotland cap this weekend.

"When you're in the team you want to have competition and over the last few years there has always been competition in the back three with me, Tommy [Seymour], Viss [Tim Visser] and now Byron has come on the scene," said Maitland.

"He was absolutely class in the Australia game and that's what Gregor said, he deserved another chance.

"It's a shame what happened to Byron with his hamstring, but there's still a lot more competition with Lee Jones who played really well against the All Blacks. You need that to drive yourself,"

Agence France-Presse

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Team P W D L Pts
Ireland 5 5 0 0 26
Wales 5 3 0 2 15
Scotland 5 3 0 2 13
France 5 2 0 3 11
England 5 2 0 3 10
Italy 5 0 0 5 1