RWC23: Scotland v Romania: Darcy Graham keeps his eye on the prize

“I have to keep Duhan humble, don’t – Steyn-o is the dark horse"

Darcy Graham scored Scotland's final try in Sunday night's 45-17 win over Tonga in World Cup Pool B. Image: © Craig Watson -
Darcy Graham scored Scotland's final try in Sunday night's 45-17 win over Tonga in World Cup Pool B. Image: © Craig Watson -

DARCY GRAHAM started Sunday night’s match against Tonga on the Scotland bench, and he finished the game in style with a breath-taking 60-metre run, weaving past three helpless defenders, to score a 77th minute try with took his international scoring tally to 20 in just 37 matches.

He’s not the type of character who ever needs any extra motivation, but the fact that Duhan van der Merwe – his chief rival in the race to beat Stuart Hogg’s Scotland try record of 27 – had already claimed his 21st try earlier in the match had not gone unnoticed by the little winger.

“I have to keep Duhan humble, don’t I!” joked Graham after the game. “Steyn-o [Kyle Steyn] is the dark horse. He’s creeping up behind us very quickly [having scored his 10th try in just 14 matches].

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“I was obviously disappointed not to start [against Tonga] but Kyle is putting me under a huge amount of pressure for the 14 jersey,” he continued. “It’s good, its needed, it pushes me on to be better which is how I will improve my game – and I’m doing the same for him.”

From a team perspective, it can’t do any harm have so many player in such fine try-scoring form as Scotland’s focus shifts from Tonga to their next World Cup assignment against Romania in Lille this Saturday night, knowing that points differential could become the deciding factor in who out of Scotland, Ireland and South Africa progresses to the knock-out stages of this World Cup.

“It could come down to that, and we know that, so it was disappointing to leave four or five tries out there by my reckoning against Tonga,” Graham added. “There were times in this game when if we had just gone an extra phase we would probably have been walking over in the corner, so I think we just have to get that balance right between going direct and earning the right to go wide.

“So, that was a bit frustrating but that’s it done and we’re onto the next challenge, which is Romania with a six-day turnaround. We’ll look at that game tonight and go again next week.

Head coach Gregor Townsend is likely to rest and protect several of his frontline players against Romania, but with only five back-three players in the squad, at least one of Graham, van der Merwe or Steyn is almost certain to start. It should be a good opportunity to close in on Hogg’s try tally.

“I don’t know what Gregor is thinking but we need to win that game with five points and as many points on the board as possible, then get stuck into Ireland,” concluded Graham. “So, it’s about trying to get that balance right.”

“It is do-or-die – but we have to get it right next week first. If we don’t do that then we are going home. So, let’s focus on Romania.”

Scotland’s all-the leading try scorers –

  • 27 – Stuart Hogg (2012-23)
  • 24 – Ian Smith (1924-1933) and Tony Stanger (1989-1998)
  • 22 – Chris Paterson (1999-2011)
  • 21 – Duhan van der Merwe (2020- )
  • 20 – Darcy Graham (2018- ) and Tommy Seymour (2013-19)

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About David Barnes 3908 Articles
David has worked as a freelance rugby journalist since 2004 covering every level of the game in Scotland for publications including he Herald/Sunday Herald, The Sunday Times, The Telegraph, The Scotsman/Scotland on Sunday/Evening News, The Daily Record, The Daily Mail/Mail on Sunday and The Sun.