Scotland and Darge are lining up for a tasty clash with France

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<p><figcaption class=Alec Hepburn (left) and Elliot Millar-Mills won the Doddie Weir Trophy after beating Wales in Cardiff.Photo: Joe Giddens/PA

Scotland has taken the hard line. A first win over Cardiff in 22 years should mean that the rest of the championship is plain sailing. Of course, with Scotland, nothing is that simple. France and England are next, at Murrayfield. Scotland have won the first leg in three of their last four home games in the Six Nations, and have won the final three times in a row away from home. But when they are predicted to win Scotland are likely to be disappointed.

They are not really predicted to beat France this weekend. The bookies are four-point underdogs, just as they were four-point favorites to overturn that long history of failure in Wales. Congratulations to Scotland for getting the win last weekend when it was expected. Now we can say the pressure is off…

Related: Jamie George urges England to ‘show passion’ in Six Nations clash with Wales

That 27-26 victory over a young team from Wales was almost psychologically perfect. No Scot will give it away, after watching their 27-0 lead a few minutes into the second half evaporate to one point with a full 10 minutes still to play.

It was encouraging that they negotiated those nervy final moments without disaster – indeed coming within a flurry of scoring a fourth try of their own – and not something we can always accept from Scotland – an example of that their obedience was 10 times. point lead with less than five minutes to play in Cardiff in 2010, when they somehow conceded 17 points. Even better, the 26 unanswered points they conceded last weekend might look more like a win.

The last time Scotland played France at Murrayfield in the Six Nations, two years ago, was the only one of their last four defeats in Edinburgh against Les Bleus. France won the grand slam that year and they were as impressive as ever, picking off their hosts to score 36 points in a match that could not be said to have dominated. Scotland missed a valuable chance to take the lead just before half-time, when Stuart Hogg was unable to collect Chris Harris’ long pass as the line begged for them. The French countered immediately and scored a try either side of half-time.

That was a great victory that Scotland suffered in an era full of pain. The only bright spot was Rory Darge’s energetic performance in his first start. The Glasgow native, who is now co-captain, returns to the team this weekend after recovering from the knee injury that kept him out of the Wales game.

He shares the captaincy with Finn Russell and will take over from the man who captained him straight up to the World Cup last year. Jamie Ritchie drops out of the entire squad. Luke Crosbie, the other leader last weekend, is also out, having picked up a championship-related injury against Great Britain. Jack Dempsey comes in at No. 8, and Matt Fagerson moves around to the side. The other loss for Scotland last week was Richie Gray, another casualty from Cardiff who will no longer be involved in these Six Nations. He is neatly replaced by Grant Gilchrist, who returns to the second row after suspension.

One second row returns from suspension, another is expelled. Paul Willemse will be missing from the France team, due to the two yellow cards he received for high tackles in France’s defeat to Ireland (the latter was upgraded to red anyway). Gilchrist was suspended for the same. What about these 2m tall, 120kg players and their struggle to adjust body height at the last split second?

Cameron Woki comes in for Willemse, but the most attractive inclusion for France is on the left wing, where the electric Louis Bielle-Biarrey comes in for Yoram Moefana. Everyone can recommend a specialist seeder to consider over a transplanted plant. This one sets up a tasty showdown between two enterprising teams of outsiders.

Caelan Doris will captain Ireland for the first time in Sunday’s Six Nations match with Italy in Dublin.

The 25-year-old, who moves from number eight to openside, has been selected to lead a starting XV that represents six personnel changes since the 38-17 round one demolition of France last Friday.

Munster forward Craig Casey will make just his fourth start, while substitute Stuart McCloskey, forward Finlay Bealham, lock James Ryan and players Ryan Baird and Jack Conan will also be in.

Regular skipper Peter O’Mahony, who missed training earlier in the week, is one of four established stars to take the weekend off, along with Tadhg Furlong, Tadhg Beirne and Bundee Aki. Jamison Gibson-Park and 2022 world player of the year Josh van der Flier drop to a much-changed bench, which also includes striker Harry Byrne and versatile right-back Jordan Larmour.

Tighthead Bealham, who became a father this week, will be joined by loosehead prop Andrew Porter and hooker Dan Sheehan in the front row, while Joe McCarthy will partner Leinster team-mate Ryan in the second row after his man of the match show i. Marseilles.

Jack Crowley continues in the fly-half, forming a partnership with fellow countryman Casey, whose last two starts have also come against Italy. Ulster’s McCloskey links up with Robbie Henshaw in midfield, while flankers James Lowe and Calvin Nash and goalkeeper Hugo Keenan are kept unchanged in the back three. PA Media

H Keenan (Leiner); C Nash (Munster), R Henshaw (Leiner), S McCloskey (Ulster), J Lowe (Leiner); J Crowley (Munster), C Casey (Munster); A Porter (Leiner), D Sheehan (Leiner), F Bealham (Connaught), J McCarthy (Leiner), J Ryan (Leiner), R Baird (Leiner), C Doris (Leiner, capt), J Conan (Leiner).

Replacements: R Kelleher (Leiner), J Loughman (Munster), T O’Toole (Ulster), I Henderson (Ulster), J Van der Flier (Leiner), J Gibson-Park (Leiner), H Byrne (Leiner), J Larmour (Leiner)

Kyle Rowe remains at full-back for Scotland, where he shone during their purple patch against Great Britain, while Kyle Steyn and Duhan van der Merwe ran out. Colleague Damian Penaud knows against that too.

Regardless, this fixture is never boring. France were well beaten by Ireland in Marseille, so they have a reputation of their own to defend. They all know the pains of saving a fortune too. Round two is set to go out with a bang.

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