Four-try Darcy Graham helps Scotland thrash Romania and set up Ireland showdown

Darcy Graham climbed from sixth to joint-second on Scotland’s all-time try-scorer list with four touchdowns in a resounding 84-0 victory over Romania which sets up a mouth-watering World Cup shootout with Ireland next weekend.

The Scots ran in six tries in each half in Lille to inflict another demoralising defeat on their opponents, who were similarly outclassed by both Ireland and South Africa in their first two matches in Pool B.

Graham, who started the evening on 20 international tries, wreaked the most damage on the eastern European minnows as his first-half hat-trick and another after the break took him ahead of both Duhan van der Merwe and Chris Paterson and up to 24.

Darcy Graham had an evening to remember
Darcy Graham had an evening to remember (Adam Davy/PA)

The prolific Edinburgh wing is now level with Tony Stanger and Ian Smith, and just three shy of record-holder and fellow Hawick native Stuart Hogg, who recently ended his career on 27.

The Scots were so confident of getting the result they required at Stade Pierre Mauroy that they made 13 changes from the side that started against Tonga the previous Sunday, preserving most of their A-listers for the Ireland match in Paris which they must win with a bonus point or by denying their opponents one in order to reach the quarter-finals.

There was no danger of the decision to field so many fringe men back-firing from the moment Hamish Watson got the Scots off and running with the first try of the match in the eighth minute.

The experienced Edinburgh flanker – who has lost the number seven jersey to the burgeoning Rory Darge this year – marked his return to the starting line-up by bounding over on the right after Cam Redpath offloaded into his path as he was thwarted on his own charge towards the line.

Hamish Watson crosses to start the scoring
Hamish Watson crosses to start the scoring (Adam Davy/PA)

Ali Price – like Watson, another 2021 British and Irish Lions squad member who has become a peripheral player for the national team this year – got the second in the 17th minute after being played in by Graham.

It was Graham’s turn to get on the scoresheet just four minutes later when he touched down following a brilliant individual run, bringing him level with his Edinburgh team-mate Van der Merwe, one of those given the night off.

Romania – already bang up against it – completely imploded in the closing 10 minutes of the first half when they had three players sin-binned and conceded a further three tries.

Hooker Robert Irimescu was yellow-carded for a high tackle on Ben Healy and just a couple of minutes later they were reduced to 13, when back-rower Florian Rosu was yellow-carded for collapsing a maul.

Scotland took full advantage as Graham scored his second of the evening to move ahead of Van der Merwe and level with Paterson.

Matt Fagerson bulldozed his way over for the fifth, but only after Ollie Smith had been the victim of a nasty high tackle in the build-up from Marius Simionescu, who became the third Romanian to be sin-binned before the break.

The score was Scotland's second biggest at a Rugby World Cup
The score was Scotland’s second biggest at a Rugby World Cup (Adam Davy/PA)

There was still time before the interval for Graham to complete his hat-trick as the Edinburgh wing moved ahead of Paterson and into fourth place on his own. All six first-half tries were converted by Healy as the Scots went in 42-0 to the good at half-time.

The scores kept coming after the break, with Chris Harris, Smith, Healy, Johnny Matthews – shortly after coming on for his debut – and Darge all touching down.

Graham then raced over for his fourth of the night as the Scots ran up their second-highest win at a World Cup, finishing just five points shy of the 89-0 victory they enjoyed against Ivory Coast in 1995.