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Sam Skinner pinpoints the 'plenty energy' fuelling the French fire

By PA
(Photo by Ian Rutherford/PA Images via Getty Images)

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Sam Skinner has warned his Scotland colleagues to be braced for a France side eager to avenge recent defeats when they meet in Saturday’s Guinness Six Nations showdown at BT Murrayfield. The Scots are buoyed by the fact they won in Paris last year while they have also beaten the French in each of their last four encounters in Edinburgh, including in 2020 when they dented their Grand Slam bid.

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However, Exeter lock Skinner believes France, who are in good form, will arrive in the Scotland capital city with no shortage of incentives as they bid to make it three wins out of three in this year’s tournament. “We have played France a few times over the years and winning at home and winning away definitely gives us confidence and belief that we can beat them,” he said.

“But I think you can flip the coin. They came to our place wanting to win a Grand Slam and we stopped them (in 2020) and then we won in Paris so it’s going to give them plenty of energy to fuel the fire. We are under no illusion about what we’re facing this weekend, that’s for sure.

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“We have beaten them in the past but they are an improving side and are extremely strong right now, everyone can see that. And they’ve been consistent with it as well. This is the strongest France side we will have faced over the last few occasions we have played them and we need to make sure we are at our very best in order to get the win.”

Scotland have had a tournament of mixed emotions so far, with their 20-17 opening-day victory over England followed by a defeat by the same scoreline in Wales last time out. Skinner is eager to restore the sense of positivity that prevailed before the disappointment in Cardiff.

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“Ultimately we have got to move forward at some point and it’s a huge challenge this weekend,” he said. “But briefly looking back, from England to Wales, in terms of performances, they weren’t too dissimilar. We were strong in some areas and weak in others. We’re not the finished article yet and we’re still trying to improve week in, week out.

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“We were on the right side of the victory against England, and playing at Murrayfield gave us that boost to seal the win. Being on the wrong side of the result against Wales, despite putting in a similar standard of performance, naturally brings on pressure, disappointment and frustration.

“We believed we could go down there and win and we put a lot of energy into that game. We were gutted not to get the result but we have got to move on, we have got to put it right because this is do-or-die for us this weekend.”

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