After an opening round defeat to Ireland in Marseille, Scotland head coach Gregor Townsend is expecting a reaction when France travel to Murrayfield on Saturday.  

Fabien Galthie’s men saw their dream of a Grand Slam disappear as an inspired Irish side recorded a bonus point win at Stade Velodrome.  

Townsend knows the France head coach well – the pair played against one another on several occasions during their careers, and the current Scotland boss was Galthie’s playing partner for his last ever match, for the French Barbarians against Australia in 2004.  

But the Scotland coach believes his side can take heart from recent performances against Les Bleus.  

Scotland beat France in one of their Rugby World Cup warm-up fixtures, and pushed them all the way in St Etienne. 

Scotland Rugby News: Zander Fagerson in action against France last summerZander Fagerson in action against France last summer (Image: SNS Group)

“They are a great side with world class players and a massive pack. We’ve seen them play some brilliant rugby in the last 12 months.  

“But we know them well - we played them three times last year and had three very close games against them. One win, one very close defeat and the Six Nations game when we had to come back from a red card and being down on the scoreboard. That was a close game too.” 

Townsend said he felt the sending off of lock Paul Willemse played a pivotal role in France’s loss to Ireland, while he bemoaned his own team’s indiscipline in Cardiff.  

“The red card obviously affected France a lot. Wales were not giving away penalties and we’ll have to make sure we are better next week.  

“Better might be working on it, showing players it and being aware that if a referee is penalising you or if a team is starting to get dominance, let’s not help them by giving more penalties away.  

“The two yellow cards really cost us on Saturday when the momentum swung went in their favour.  

“I know Finn used the term ‘complacency’ - I wouldn’t probably be as hard as that. It’s probably a natural feeling when it’s never happened before for a Scotland team to be 20-0 up [here] at half-time, 27-0 up just after it. 

READ MORE: Indiscipline put Scotland under pressure, admits Finn Russell

“It’s easy to say just keep the same intensity and level, but there are going to be times when the opposition do get momentum.  

“They’re a quality side - we just can’t help them increase that momentum by being down to 14 men and giving away penalties. That’s what really cost us a chance to get a foothold in that second half.” 

Wales scored two of their four tries from driving lineouts and Townsend acknowledged Scotland will also need to improve their work at the set-piece.  

The French pack is among the biggest in world rugby, with 145kg tighthead Uini Atonio and 150kg Posolo Tuilagi, the 19-year-old lock who made his debut against Ireland, among their squad. 

Townsend added: “We’ll have to be better around when teams get go-forward against us.  

“Our maul defence has been one of our key strengths over our last few games, and I’m sure that France will look at the Wales game and say, ‘we’ll [challenge them] there’. 

“We know we can be better. Defensively, we have to show for 80 minutes what we showed in the first half against Wales.” 

Townsend will almost certainly be without Luke Crosbie, and with Richie Gray’s injury also a cause for concern, Townsend was pleased to have Grant Gilchrist available after suspension.  

READ MORE: Memories of 2010 collapse were on my mind, says Townsend

He said co-captain Rory Darge, who was with the squad in Cardiff, is also on course to be fit for Saturday’s match.  

However Scotland may still be without Edinburgh pair WP Nel and Darcy Graham.  

“We’ll see. He [Nel] has not been with us so we’ll see how he is on Monday.  

“Darcy is progressing. I don’t think he’ll be available next week but he messaged me on Saturday morning to say that things have been going really well in his rehab. 

“Grant will be available - he trained all week. It’s good that we’ve got a second row back this week with Richie’s injury, and Rory [Darge] trained fully the last two days so he’ll be good to go.” 

Scotland Rugby News: Grant Gilchrist will come into contention after suspensionGrant Gilchrist will come into contention after suspension (Image: SNS Group)

He also wants his side to make the most of home advantage.  

“We have an opportunity to play in front of our supporters this week and make sure they get behind us.  

“We need to make sure that we give them the game we delivered for 42 minutes plus the last few minutes against Wales.”