SCOTLAND captain Rachel Malcolm is confident the team will benefit from being back at Scotstoun tonight when they take on France in the Six Nations. The Scots have lost their last three home games and won three out of four of their most recent away matches, but, after her team were forced to play their last Championship fixture behind closed doors at Murrayfield, Malcolm believes they will rise to the challenge at the Glasgow venue.

“It’s been a wee while since we’ve been back at Scotstoun and we absolutely love playing here,” the back-row forward said. “So I think to have a home crowd behind us on Saturday night at Scotstoun will make a massive difference to the girls. I hope we get good numbers there, push on and put in a good performance and get the crowd behind us.”

The stark reality is that Scotland will need that ‘massive difference’ if they are to have a chance against the French, who beat Wales 50-0 in Cardiff in the last round of games. Malcolm’s team sat that round out when their team’s game against Italy was postponed because of coronavirus fears, and in the match before that, against England at the national stadium, they were beaten 53-0.

Given the apparent gulf between tonight’s teams, a realistic aim for Scotland will be to limit the size of the loss, which means building on the positive aspects of their season so far while also becoming more competitive in the scrum and lineout.

“I think our defence in the first half against England was much improved on the game against Ireland,” Malcolm added. “I think probably the two games had two different strengths from them, so against Ireland [an 18-14 defeat in Dublin] we attacked well but we just didn’t necessarily convert when we were in the 22. Against England I think we showed - particularly in the first half, as I said - what we could do in defence.

“So I think going into France it’s about kind of bringing the two together, but also when we have opportunities trying to convert them. I think the massive work-on probably for us off the back of the England game will be our set piece.

“It would be really nice to get a good result at home, but ultimately for us the aim is just putting in a really good performance - and whether that’s at home or away, that’s always the aim at the moment.”