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Scots can rattle French

Coach Marc Lievremont has pinned his hopes on the young, gifted half-back pairing of Morgan Parra, 21, and Francois Trinh-Duc, 23, to steer France through stormy waters.

In front of them, William Servat, Nicolas Mas, Lionel Nallet and Pascal Pape provide plenty of muscle in the front-five as a gnarled set of grinders dedicated to doing things the hard way.

There is perfect balance in the back-row with captain Thierry Dusautoir, the hammer, Fulgence Ouedraogo, the athlete, and Imanol Harinordoquy, the revered entertainer. There is power and subtlety in equal measure.

Lievremont has given a Six Nations debut to 20-year-old wing Benjamin Fall. What a prospect he must be to win a race that includes Vincent Clerc, Julien Malzieu and Maxime Medard, all of international class. But the most interesting selection is that of controversial 17-stone centre Mathieu Bastareaud. He is a massive physical specimen but has had some high-profile problems off the field of play.

There are doubts enough about France to give a high-riding Scotland more than hope of getting their campaign off to a winning start under their hard-working coach, Andy Robinson.

There are six changes from the side that went under 9-6 to Argentina in November in what is a typically defensive formation designed to take advantage of Chris Paterson's goal-kicking.

Verdict: France

Scotland: C Paterson; T Evans, M Evans, G Morrison, S Lamont; P Godman, C Cusiter (capt); A Dickinson, R Ford, M Low, N Hines, A Kellock, K Brown, J Barclay, J Beattie.

France: C Poitrenaud; B Fall, M Bastareaud, Y Jauzion, A Rougerie; F Trinh-Duc, M Parra; T Domingo, W Servat, N Mas, L Nallet, P Pape, T Dusautoir (capt), F Ouedraogo, I Harinordoquy.


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