Six Nations: Scotland 'must meet fire with fire' v France - Scott Hastings
|2018 Six Nations: Scotland v France|
|Venue: Murrayfield Stadium, Edinburgh Date: Sun, 11 February Kick-off: 15:00 GMT|
|Coverage: Watch live on BBC TV, Red Button, Connected TVs, BBC Sport website and mobile app. Listen on BBC Radio Scotland, BBC Radio 5 live sports extra, BBC Sport website and app. Live text coverage on BBC Sport website and app.|
Scotland must "meet fire with fire" against France or find themselves facing a likely Wooden Spoon decider with Italy, says Scott Hastings.
Pre-tournament optimism around the Scots' prospects swiftly evaporated with Saturday's 34-7 defeat by Wales.
But Hastings told BBC Scotland Sunday's Murrayfield clash can restore hope after a "rudderless" Cardiff display.
"There has to be far more physicality to their game and a direction that was lacking," said the former centre.
"They are going to have to turn things around and come up with more aggression with the way they carry the ball and more accuracy in everything they do.
"Because, if they produce a performance like that again, I am afraid we are going to be staring down the barrel of a potential shootout at the end of the championship for, dare I say it, the Wooden Spoon. That is how quickly the axis can change."
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Following Sunday's meeting with France, Scotland face the two tournament favourites - England at Murrayfield on 24 February and Ireland in Dublin on 10 March - before concluding their campaign against perennial strugglers Italy in Rome.
Head coach Gregor Townsend could potentially make changes in all three rows of his pack, at half-back, midfield and in the back three.
Number eight Cornell du Preez is under pressure for his spot after an ineffective game in Cardiff and Scotland's line-out malfunctions could see either Grant Gilchrist or - if fit - Richie Gray come into the second row.
Meanwhile, Edinburgh tight-head Simon Berghan is available again after suspension, although the prop has not played since before Christmas.
After Ali Price's struggles in Cardiff, former captain Greig Laidlaw is pressing for a start at scrum-half, while either Alex Dunbar or Duncan Taylor, if recovered from head knocks, could return at centre and Sean Maitland is a contender to start on the wing.
"I think Ryan Wilson will come at number eight to give the back row a direction that was sadly lacking," said Hastings. "In the second row, it might be that Jonny Gray will be partnering his brother Richie.
"I know there was criticism of Ali Price and he got caught up a little in his own thinking, but does the calm and influence of Greig Laidlaw come back into the team?
"If you turn back the clock 12 months ago, that experience counted for everything in the victory against Ireland. Perhaps Laidlaw is an important cog that needs to be brought back in."
France came within a minute of beating Ireland in Paris on Saturday before Jonny Sexton's dramatic late winning drop-goal.
But Hastings, who won 65 caps for Scotland and two for the British and Irish Lions, believes Scotland can recover from a "bad day at the office" and repeat their victory over the French in 2016, a performance he says was their best of the last two years.
"France are still finding their feet under a new coach in Jacques Brunel," Hastings noted. "Their game plan was very much built on a defensive effort.
"Ireland took the ball to them time and time again, but their defence was really impressive.
"I think there is more to come from this French team, but conversely, Scotland do have home advantage and I can see the Murrayfield crowd playing an important part.
"Just because Scotland got absolutely wiped on Saturday, it doesn't mean they can't respond accordingly.
"You have now got two teams desperate to win their first game in the Six Nations.
"We know France are going to be really physical, they certainly showed that against Ireland, and Scotland are going to have to meet real fire with fire.
"Home advantage should see them through, but they have to deliver that accuracy within the game that we saw last season under Vern Cotter, that Gregor has enhanced on the summer tour and in the autumn series. It is a matter of getting the right blend.
"It is really important they have an accuracy in their game, their line-out functions well, that there is an aggression in the contact area and Scotland find a bit more of a direct running style and a bit of innovation as well - that doesn't go amiss.
"Gregor's high-tempo game can come into play at certain times during the game, but it is all about game management."