Six Nations: Scotland must handle pressure of expectation better - Hamish Watson

Hamish Watson runs with the ball for Scotland against Wales
Watson has featured in 14 of Scotland's last 15 Tests, starting 12 of them, since November 2016
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.

Flanker Hamish Watson says Scotland must handle the pressure of expectation better as they prepare for a must-win match against France on Sunday.

Watson concedes the Scots' Six Nations hopes will be sunk if they lose at Murrayfield following the calamitous opening-day defeat by Wales in Cardiff.

France lost to Ireland after a last-gasp Johnny Sexton drop-goal.

"Both teams are going into the game having lost the first one, so we need to win," Watson said.

"Our fans expect us to nowadays, which is great, but we've got a lot of pressure on us as well.

"So we need to be positive and try to play the same as we've been doing at BT Murrayfield for the last year.

"Obviously expectations have risen over the last year because we're doing well. But, as players, we've got to handle that pressure better."

The Edinburgh back-row admits that the Scotland fans have every right to be "hacked-off" with the sub-standard display in Cardiff.

However, he says the players, who are "hurting more than anybody", have turned their focus fully on France and delivering a performance to get their Six Nations campaign back on track.

"With France, it's important that you match them physically," Watson explained.

"Obviously they're a very big team, a big pack and a good set-piece, so we've got to match them up front and if we can do that then we can unleash our backs.

"They'll see if they can do what Wales did, but that was hopefully a one-off performance by us and a very off day, so they can try to match that, but as long as we step it up, there shouldn't be those holes (in defence).

"We need to go out and be positive and obviously it's a must-win game for us if we want to have anything to do with this championship.

"But it's a must-win for France as well, so it's going to be a tough game and we're being very positive this week."

Scotland ended a 10-year losing streak to France with a 29-18 victory in the corresponding fixture two years ago but were beaten 22-16 in Paris in last year's championship.

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Six Nations Highlights: Scotland 29-18 France

Wing Sean Maitland, expected to return to the starting line-up on Sunday in place of the injured Byron McGuigan, thinks the devastation of losing to Ireland in the last play of the game means France will be equally determined to put things right at Murrayfield.

"Those boys looked like they were hurting after the game," the Saracens wing said. "They're in a similar situation to us and we can't afford to lose a second game.

"They've had a bit of a transitional phase as well. Their team in the last two years hasn't been consistent.

"Looking at the footage, looking at club rugby as well, they're full of exciting players, full of X-factor, the guys on the wings [Teddy Thomas and Virimi Vakatawa] especially.

"They've got a young 10 [Matthieu Jalabert] that is not afraid to try things. It's been interesting doing our analysis on them.

"We know they're always going to have that X-factor, that French flair, so our defence is going to be really important."

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