IT’S been an interesting week in our two major team sports. Apparently the Scottish round-ball kickers did rather well from the penalty spot and got into the European Championship finals, while Argentina beat the All Blacks, both of these occurrences proving that miracles do happen.

Now another miracle could take place this weekend, when Scotland play France in the second round of matches in the Autumn Nations Cup with the prize of an almost certain place in the tournament’s deciding final at stake.

You could argue that Scotland have been greatly disadvantaged by the fact that Covid-19 tests ruled out Fiji from their opening match of the tournament against France, as well as their match against Italy this weekend.

The organisers said Fiji could not be blamed for being unable to field a competitive team but then they awarded France a 28-0 bonus-point victory which means that Les Bleus are top of Group B on points difference. There was an alternative score available which was a 0-0 draw, and surely if no fault is attached to Fiji – and it’s difficult to see how they could be held responsible – then the goalless draw was the correct result to impose.

But then France are France and Fiji are just Fiji, interlopers in what is basically a rerun of the Six Nations with some novelty value attached in the shape of Georgia and the men from the South Pacific.

The table as it stands is hugely beneficial to France, but here’s why I am predicting that Scotland will be the team that makes the deciding final, probably against England.

On Saturday, Scotland were poor in the first half and gave away far too many penalties while the scrum creaked – at one point it went completely awry – and the back row and our backs never quite got going. But I could see the signs that Scotland were just a few tweaks away from turning it on, and a few words from Gregor Townsend at half time and a raft of very good substitutions saw us run out comfortable winners in the end with a thoroughly deserved bonus-point try.

Italy were hugely impressive for the first half, especially at the breakdown, and should have been ahead by more than four points at half time. They have found excellent new young players and will be a bigger force to be reckoned with in the future, but Scotland’s defence just about held out and Italy failed to take their chances.

In the bad old days, especially with two world-class players in the shape of Jamie Ritchie and Rory Sutherland both off injured, Scotland might not have rallied but this is now a very professional side and slowly but surely they began to exert control, as I had hoped would happen, Stuart Hogg showed how much he is growing into the role of captain. The Scots did get a bit of luck when an Italian hand gave Zander Fagerson his try – didn’t you love the look of surprise when the ball popped into his hands and he only just remembered what to do – but for me the crucial moment of the game was when Hogg decided to kick to the corner and the lineout maul ended with Scott Cummings crashing over. That was brave decision making and the result of confidence in a pack that is very well drilled.

As against Wales, Scotland had a lead and had to manage how to play for the win. They did this admirably and that amazing lineout maul yielded up George Turner’s bonus point try.

Gregor Townsend will make changes against France, but not too many. I suspect Rory Sutherland may not return in time so Oli Kebble will probably replace him, and isn’t it a fantastic luxury to have WP Nel in reserve? I'd like to see Blair Kinghorn and Duhan van der Merwe as wingers.

We know that France will use their big men to try and batter Scotland up front and then bring in their backs to finish us off, but as was shown earlier in the year, the Scots have the strength, the talent in defence and offence, and can repeat the Six Nations win.

We will then just have to beat Fiji and if they can’t turn up, Scotland will get the 28-0 victory, though I’d rather we play them and win all three group matches. And if England beat Ireland and Wales, it will be us going, probably to Twickenham, for the deciding final of the Autumn Nations Cup.

The one thing Scotland hasn’t done since 1999 is win a major tournament, but if the Scotland men’s football team can end a 22-year nightmare and make it to the Euro 2020(1) finals, then surely it’s time for our rugby men to emulate them and make it at least to a final.