Paterson ready to go again

Date published: February 4 2008

Chris Paterson is delighted Scotland will be back in the Six Nations Championship firing line on Saturday – so they can get the defeat to France out of their system.

Chris Paterson is delighted Scotland will be back in the Six Nations Championship firing line on Saturday – so they can get the defeat to France out of their system.

Frank Hadden's men have less than six days to recover from the disappointing opening reverse against new-look France on Sunday and prepare for the match with England's conquerors Wales in Cardiff.

An experienced and settled Scotland side produced a mountain of errors at Murrayfield as they suffered at the hands of a youthful France outfit containing six debutantes in their 22.

Dan Parks' opening kick-off sailed straight out of play to signal the start of the mistakes, and Marc Lievremont's side ran out comfortable 27-6 winners.

Vincent Clerc further enhanced his reputation as Europe's deadliest finisher with a try in each half – while one of the rookies, Julien Malzieu, also touched down.

“I'm an optimist and I think the fact we have just six days between the games is the best thing of all, because it allows us to put right what was wrong against France,” Paterson, dropped to the bench for the match against the reigning champions, said.

“I'd like as short a time as possible so we can get out against Wales and get a result. I don't think we've picked up too many injuries, so we should have a strong squad to go down to Cardiff.

“There will be some fire in our bellies on Saturday – or at least I'd hope there will be. I won't bother getting on the plane down there if there's not.”

The Gloucester utility back admits Scotland were not clinical enough against France in the first half – and then struggled to maintain possession after half-time.

“There were a lot of good things in the first half, which we just didn't finish off. We maybe showed a slight lack of composure and maturity in that respect,” he added.

“But on the flip side of that, in the second half we didn't get the ball at source in order to build on the open-field running which was so good in the first half.

“They were the two problems, and it's just a case of trying to apply solutions at the same time.

“For periods in the first half, I thought we looked good. The French made a few mistakes but they seemed to get the bounces – and the tries were given.”

Despite all the talk in the build-up to the game being about Lievremont's new boys, the former Scotland captain believes it was France's experienced players who were the key to victory.

Clerc was set up for his first try by Cedric Heymans, efficient in an unfamiliar role of full-back, while Jean-Baptiste Elissalde marshaled the back line superbly.

“Although they are not a cohesive unit yet, they still possess world-class players in the likes of Heymans, Clerc and Elissalde in particular. They can turn games – and they did that,” he said.

“It's often the way that the more experienced guys are the ones sides look to. Someone like Vincent Clerc is a try-scoring machine, and I thought he played particularly well.

“Although their new caps contributed in their own ways, I think it was their more experienced players who were their key players.”