Richie Gray breaks through the French defences during a 2011 Six Nations match

Scotland host France in round three of the Six Nations in what promises to be a feisty encounter at Murrayfield, writes Bea Asprey.

The last time the Scots came out on top in the fixture was on the opening weekend of the 2006 tournament, when France went in as heavy favourites. Chris Paterson scored ten of Scotland’s points in a 20-16 win that day, but there was no time to savour the achievement.

“It was the first game and it was played on a Sunday, and we came from under the radar,” says Paterson, the Scots’ only Test centurion. “There were some changes and new caps in the France team, and we were the more settled side on the day.

“We scored two tries, one of which was from a lineout, and that set the tone for a confrontational game. We were playing in Cardiff six days later so there was no hint of a celebration.”

Paterson recently retired from Test rugby, so he’ll be watching the action from what he hopes will be a packed stand. The presence of a 16th man would be a great fillip to the team in what the Edinburgh man knows will be a very tough game.

“Scotland need to play at their best all the time to win, so our fans are hugely important. They were phenomenal in that 2006 victory and got louder and louder. When you play France you have to expect the unexpected. They’re a big, physical team with huge men but they don’t always play like that. They can play a quick game and always use the ball well.

“They’ve got a new coach and though some people will say it was a positive that they got to the World Cup final, they’ll want to draw a line in the sand. Despite their positive result, it’s still a mystery about the atmosphere in their squad at that time.

“Scotland need to start well and put France under pressure. And they will also have to defend very well in that game.”

Starting XV:
15 Stuart Hogg
14 Rory Lamont
13 Sean Lamont
12 Graeme Morrison
11 Lee Jones
10 Greig Laidlaw
9 Mike Blair
1 Allan Jacobsen
2 Ross Ford (CAPTAIN)
3 Geoff Cross
4 Richie Gray
5 Jim Hamilton
6 John Barclay
7 Ross Rennie
8 David Denton

Replacements:
16 Scott Lawson
17 Ed Kalman
18 Alastair Kellock
19 Richie Vernon
20 Chris Cusiter
21 Duncan Weir
22 Nick De Luca

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