Laporte makes three changes for Scotland clash

14th March 2007, Comments 0 comments

MARCOUSSIS, France, March 14, 2007 (AFP) - France coach Bernard Laporte will hope to revert to a tried and trusted half-back partnership used earlier in the campaign as he bids to lead his side to Six Nations triumph here on Saturday.

MARCOUSSIS, France, March 14, 2007 (AFP) - France coach Bernard Laporte will hope to revert to a tried and trusted half-back partnership used earlier in the campaign as he bids to lead his side to Six Nations triumph here on Saturday.

France face Scotland in their final clash at the Stade de France a week after their only defeat of the campaign, against England at Twickenham.

To secure the crown France need to win and, if Ireland and England also win their matches against Italy and Wales respectively, finish the tournament with superior points difference than their rivals.

All three teams currently have six points, but France lead the table on +42 points difference ahead of Ireland (+38) and England (+13).

On Wednesday Laporte made three changes to the largely disappointing starting XV which lost 26-18 to England.

The Frenchman is hoping to have David Skrela, who picked up a knock against England, announced fit after a late fitness test on Thursday in order to use him in a half-back partnership with Pierre Mignoni.

Prior to Dimitri Yachvili coming for the England game last week, the pair had proved their worth earlier in the competition in an area in which Laporte has used 29 different combinations since his first match in charge, against Wales in 2000.

Biarritz third row forward Imanol Harinordoquy will win his 39th cap when he comes in at No 8 for the first time since France's 36-26 victory over South Africa last June.

Clermont back Mignoni will regain a starting place at scrum half, a position in which he played in France's first three matches, Yachvili paying dearly for his unremarkable performance against England.

Toulouse's Cedric Heymans has pushed out stalwart Christophe Dominici to win only his second starting place, having started against Italy in France's first victory of the current campaign.

Laporte said the emblematic Dominici had payed for his unremarkable performance against England, and added: "We have to get used to playing without our team leaders."

Uncertainty still surrounds Stade Francais fly-half Skrela, however.

Laporte has already accounted for Skrela's possible absence by appointing his understudy at his Parisian club, Lionel Beauxis, as a possible replacement.

In that event, Damien Traille of Biarritz will join the squad and sit on the bench, giving Laporte the option of using him at fly-half or centre.

Harinordoquy will get reacquainted at No 8, a position in which he finished France's first four matches of the competition. Sale player Sebastien Chabal started at No 8 against Italy, Ireland and England.

France team manager Jo Maso played down the choice of Harinordoquy over Elvis Vermeulen, which is being seen as something of a surprise.

"He's probably the best ball player of the lot, and maybe the best Frenchman at countering in the line-outs," said Maso.

France 'super-sub' Mignoni will win his 22nd cap after pushing Yachvili on to the replacements' bench, having replaced the Biarritz scrum half in the last five minutes against England.

Yachvili's performance for France in the defeat at Twickenham did not to his starting chances against Scotland any favours.

Mignoni's presence, it is hoped, will add some much needed velocity to the French game, something which was conspicuous by its absence last week at Twickenham.

Copyright AFP

Subject: French news

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