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Willemse says France 'still in title mix' despite Scotland loss

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Edinburgh (AFP)

Second-row Paul Willemse said France were "still in the mix" for the Six Nations title despite Sunday's 28-17 loss at Scotland ending their hopes of a first Grand Slam since 2010.

South African-born Willemse's side were unbeaten before the defeat at Murrayfield and host Ireland next weekend.

Ireland have an extra game to play after their match against Italy, which should have been played Saturday, was postponed due to coronavirus fears.

Table-topping England's trip to Rome next weekend will be rescheduled for the same reason with the unplayed fixtures yet to be given a date.

"Nothing changes for us. We'll put in the same intensity, not only because we are still in the mix but because we want to finish well too," Willemse said.

"It's our last game and we have been really enjoying our time together in the team," he added.

Willemse's team-mate, Mohamed Haouas was shown a red card in the Scottish capital for punching flanker Jamie Ritchie.

"That didn't help us at all. It is really hard at this level to win a game with 14 players. That is one of the things that went against us, but it is not the only thing," Willemse said.

"We will take it on the chin and just prepare as we have done over the last few weeks," he added.

Winger Gael Fickou echoed Willemse's thoughts ahead of hosting Andy Farrell's Ireland next weekend but he could be without a host of front-line team-mates.

Scrum-half Antoine Dupont suffered a collar bone injury, fly-half Romain Ntamack left the field with concussion, replacement hooker Camille Chat hurt his ankle during the warm-up while Haouas is set to be suspended.

"It's up to us to learn from this. Lift up our heads. We still have the title to play for so we'll fight until the end," Fickou said.

"There's nothing for us from the game, no bonus defensive point, no pleasure on the field, a lot of injuries. It's a dark day for us," Fickou said.

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