Scotland reckon their fitness could give them a real crack at World Cup glory next month after they stormed back against France for a second successive week and came agonisingly close to winning away in St Etienne on Saturday
Their 30-27 loss at the Stade Geoffroy-Guichard saw Scotland come from 27-10 down, scoring three unanswered tries in the last 20 minutes and losing the game only after conceding a late penalty.
It came seven days after they had been 21-3 down at halftime at Murrayfield in the first of their two World Cup warm-up games against the French but, despite being down to 14 men, came back to win 25-21.
“We can take loads of confidence,” said captain Jamie Ritchie.
“I don’t know many teams in the world that can go 18 points down (last week), 17 points down (on Saturday), 19 points down (in February) against France and come back to be in a position to win it at the end.
“I knew that we would be the fitter team in the end, which we showed. But I’m a bit frustrated with that five-minute period at the start of the second half where we know that they are dangerous on counter-attack and we let them score two tries.”
Scotland eventually outscored the French by four tries to three away on Saturday, giving coach Gregor Townsend much to be pleased about one month before the kick off of the World Cup, where Scotland are in a tough group and have a difficult start against holders South Africa.
“I was really proud of how they went about taking on a top side. Their focus was on winning the game, not on the World Cup,” the coach said.
“They put their bodies on the line. The effort that the players have put in over the last two months was transferred on to the field. We’re fit enough to have a real crack at this World Cup and we’ll have a lot of players that will be putting their hands up for selection over the next few days.”
Scotland name their 33-man World Cup squad on Wednesday.
“Even a draw would have been something that we could have taken a lot more positives out of, because we’re here to win. But there’s so much more to come from this team,” Townsend predicted.