Scots draw on that Rob Roy spirit

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The Independent Online
ROBERT COLE

reports from Johannesburg

The French may be banking on the spirit of 1994 to pull them through to a cosy World Cup quarter-final clash, but the Scots have dug deep into their combative past to find the means to maintain their momentum in South Africa.

Gavin Hastings' men sat through a sneak preview of the new Hollywood blockbuster, Rob Roy, last night as they cleared their minds for this afternoon's Pool D decider in Pretoria.

The antics of the famous Highland warrior and clan chief might have seemed a little far-fetched, but they will no doubt have stirred the Scottish blood for what promises to be a rousing contest.

While Hastings maintains it is no "do or die" game, it more or less comes down to a winner- takes-all situation. To the victors will go a quarter- final match against either Ireland or Wales, to the loser the unenviable task of facing New Zealand. The French beat the All Blacks twice on their tour Down Under last year and their coach, Pierre Berbizier, has reverted back to the same side that triumphed so heroically last summer.

The French need to step up a gear after two mediocre performances against Tonga and the Ivory Coast. The Scots just need to keep on doing what they have done all year, and recapture the form they revealed in winning for the first time at Parc des Princes since 1969.

"We didn't give up in that game and, even though we were behind with two minutes to go, we always felt we were having the better of the game," Damian Cronin, the Scottish lock, said. "Our victories over Canada and Ireland prior to that built confidence and we have developed from there.

"We need to win and that is all we are concentrating on. We all realise that whichever team comes out on top will get the easier quarter-final."

Everyone wants to fight shy of New Zealand, the most impressive team at the tournament to date, and Scotland have an even bigger reason to want to beat the French - they have never beaten the All Blacks.

Cronin has good cause to remember the victory over the French because he ripped the bicep tendon in his right arm. It required a two-and-a-half hour operation, and cost him four months of rugby.

"I have very mixed emotions about that win at Parc des Princes. It really was agony and ecstasy, although I must say that the ecstasy of winning eventually far outweighed the agony of the injury," Cronin said.

"The French have obviously been holding a little bit back for this game, but the way that Gavin has been performing has given us all great confidence. If he keeps on kicking the goals as he has been doing then nothing is going to stop us."

SCOTLAND v FRANCE

At Loftus Versfeld, Pretoria

G Hastings Watsonians, capt 15 J-L Sadourny Colomiers

C Joiner Melrose 14 E N'Tamack Toulouse

S Hastings Watsonians 13 P Sella Agen

G Shiel Melrose 12 T Lacroix Dax

K Logan Stirling County 11 P Saint-Andre Montferrand, capt

C Chalmers Melrose 10 C Deylaud Toulouse

B Redpath Melrose 9 G Accoceberry Begles

D Hilton Bath 1 L Benezech Racing Club

K Milne Heriot's FP 2 J-M Gonzales Bayonne

P Wright Boroughmuir 3 C Califano Toulouse

D Cronin Bourges 4 O Merle Montferrand

G Weir Melrose 5 O Roumat Dax

R Wainwright West Hartlepool 6 A Benazzi Agen

E Peters Bath 8 P Benetton Agen

I Morrison London Scottish 7 L Cabannes Racing Club

Referee: W Erickson (Australia). Kick-off: 4.0 (ITV).

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