Darcy Graham showcased his brilliance by scoring four tries, propelling Scotland into a decisive Pool B clash with Ireland following an impressive 84-0 triumph over Romania at Stade Pierre-Mauroy in Lille.
In a whirlwind start, flanker Hamish Watson, scrum-half Ali Price, and winger Graham all found the try line within the opening 21 minutes. Graham continued his try-scoring spree, while number eight Matt Fagerson added to the tally, as Romania found themselves in hot water with three players sin-binned in rapid succession, trailing 42-0 at halftime.
The second half saw full-back Ollie Smith’s remarkable 65-meter run leading the way for Scotland’s six additional tries, with Graham concluding the scoring. Fly-half Ben Healy, in his Rugby World Cup debut after switching allegiance from Ireland, contributed a try and amassed 27 points. Scotland’s mission is clear: they must defeat Ireland in Paris on October 7th, potentially denying the world’s number one team a bonus point, to secure a spot in the quarter-finals.
Reflecting on the impending Ireland match-up, Graham, named the Mastercard Player of the Match, stated, “We were waiting for this game to get out of the way. We go to Paris all guns blazing and put on our best performance. Time to rest up and kick on next week.”
Captain Grant Gilchrist applauded the players brought into the side for the Romania game, acknowledging that team selection for the Ireland match would be challenging. He remarked, “It’s up to the coaches to put the team together [for Ireland], but a lot of the guys put their hands up today and were outstanding. We know what awaits us next week, and it is hugely exciting.”
Scotland’s head coach, Gregor Townsend, expressed satisfaction with his team’s performance against Romania, emphasizing their unwavering commitment and resilience. Townsend acknowledged the physicality of the match and praised his team for maintaining their performance level.
However, Townsend recognized the looming challenge presented by Ireland, stating, “We will sit down tomorrow night and discuss selection. But this gives us really good momentum going into a training week ahead of our biggest game of the World Cup. It’s a credit to the 23 tonight who have trained and played well.”
Romania’s second-row, Adrian Motoc, described the game as tough, noting their strong start followed by fatigue and mistakes. He lamented the yellow cards and the challenges of playing with reduced numbers.
With a match against Tonga still on the horizon, Romania’s head coach, Eugen Apjok, remained hopeful of securing their first win in Rugby World Cup 2023. He stressed the need for learning from their first three games, enhancing professionalism, and focusing on fitness levels to elevate their overall performance.