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Laidlaw confident

Opening exchanges ‘key to Paris success’

Scotland need to get off to a strong start in Sunday’s RBS Six Nations clash with France if they are to build on their opening day victory, according to captain Greig Laidlaw.

Vern Cotter’s side launched their campaign with a thrilling 27-22 victory over Ireland at BT Murrayfield last weekend. It was only the second time the Scots had managed an opening-day win in Six Nations history.

Determined to keep up the momentum in the Stade de France, Laidlaw knows the opening exchanges could prove pivotal.

“This is going to be a very tough game,” he said. “They are a very good team and have improved immensely under Guy Noves. They are not far away from any team they are playing and have some very good strike runners. “They can cause anyone problems.

“The start of the game is massively important. Whether it is our kick-off or us receiving, when you go to Paris the first thing you do in the game is very important psychologically, both for them and us.

“If we can stay in the game, play in the right areas of the field for the first 20 minutes and don’t muck about too much in our own half then hopefully we can put them under pressure and upset the crowd a little bit.

“We need to keep doing what we’re doing well. We need to keep the skills high, be aggressive and physical. We need accuracy but we also need to be subtle and clever in attack.

“If we can do that we will put ourselves in a strong position.

“We haven’t won there since 1999 and there are good reasons for that. France are a good team and we’ll need to be on top form to get something out of the game.”

Laidlaw was the Scots’ hero against the Irish, sending over two late penalties to clinch a nail-biting win.

He saw much to be pleased about but stressed it’s all in the past now with the trip to the French capital very much at the forefront of everyone’s minds.

“We built a lead on the scoreboard against Ireland but unfortunately let them come back at us,” said the skipper.

“We were able to dig ourselves out of a hole, grab some field position and move the scoreboard on again.

“I feel the team has made massive strides in that area. It was very pleasing to know we can perform like we did and also understand how we can win games from being behind.

“In a tournament like the Six Nations, there is no respite. We beat Ireland, enjoyed it but our feet are now back on the ground now and we’re focused on the task ahead.

“It was a tremendous result to beat a team of Ireland’s quality. To travel to France where historically we haven’t done well and get a win would be clearly awesome.”


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