Not the Nice warm-up Townsend was looking for

Coach Gregor Townsend says Scotland are keeping a close eye on Ireland as both sides prepare for their opening weekend showdown at the World Cup in Japan next month.

Not the Nice warm-up Townsend was looking for

France 32 - Scotland3

Coach Gregor Townsend says Scotland are keeping a close eye on Ireland as both sides prepare for their opening weekend showdown at the World Cup in Japan next month.

But his primary concern is getting his own squad into shape, not least after a horror opening warm-up game at the Allianz Riviera in Nice on Saturday when his out-of-kilter charges were blown away by an impressive French side.

A crowd of just over 20,000 in the 36,000 capacity stadium witnessed a one-sided encounter on a warm evening on a football pitch which tore up easily.

Scotland will feel the sticky conditions will not be dissimilar to Japan but they took little else out of their trip to Nice and will look for a huge improvement when the sides meet in Murrayfield next weekend.

Scotland will continue their preparations with home and away ties with Georgia, but Townsend admitted they are keeping an eye on Ireland ahead of their World Cup opener, and he noticed a change in Ireland’s approach in their first warm-up match.

“We watched their game against Italy. They did more of the same that they have built their success on during the last two or three years, although they probably kicked the ball more.

“They are not really a team that kicks it that often but they kicked it more against Italy. We will see in their remaining three games if that’s a pattern they want to use or whether it was specific to Italy, and I’m sure they will play stronger teams as well as they get into the next three games,” said Townsend.

He admitted this five-tries-to-nil loss is a wake-up call after the side were blown away by a decent French showing. But Jacques Brunel’s men were aided by a dreadful Scottish set-piece with their line-up and scrum in trouble from the start.

It’s the first time that team has played. We knew there would be errors, especially against a more experienced French team. But it was a first game of the season for both of us and they got up to the speed quicker

Fijian native Alivereti Raka took just over a minute and a half to crown his debut with a try after woeful defending, with veteran Maxime Medard getting two and the impressive Gregory Alldritt continuing his scoring run since qualifying to play for Scotland.

Scrum-half Antoine Dupont also scored for a French side who led 20-3 and who looked to have much more depth to their squad than the Scots.

“We had a plan for the first two games and there will be a number of changes for next week,” added Townsend. “We will have a look at where we are but there is a group of players who weren’t involved that will get a chance next week.

“Some guys will have to go again but that was always the plan for those first two games, to get that match conditioning into a group of 35 players and then to build more combinations in the two games against Georgia.”

Scotland’s only score came from an Adam Hastings’ 26th minute penalty but his half-back pairing with Glasgow colleague Ali Price didn’t work and Finn Russell and Greig Laidlaw could be drafted in for next week.

Scorers – France: M Medard (2), A Raka, G Alldritt, A Dupont tries; C Lopez 2 cons, pen.

Scotland: A Hastings pen.

FRANCE:

SCOTLAND:

S Hogg (B Kinghorn 53); D Graham, H Jones, D Taylor (R Hutchinson 48), B McGuigan; A Hastings, A Price (G Horne 53); J Bhatti (Z Fagerson 40), S McInally (G Turner 63), S Berghan (G Reid 52); B Toolis (S Cummings 53), G Gilchrist; J Barclay (M Fagerson 52), J Ritchie, J Strauss.

Referee: N Owens (Wales).

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