There are times when Darcy Graham makes a rugby field look like a dancefloor. In this World Cup waltz against Romania, Scotland’s twinkle-toed magician lit it up in Lille by scoring four of his team’s 12 tries.
It was dazzling stuff from Graham. Starting the night on 20 tries for the national team, he has now motored past Chris Paterson and sits joint second with Ian Smith and Tony Stanger in the all-time standings.
To score 24 tries in just 38 caps is an astonishing strike-rate. Graham only turned 26 years old in June. He won’t just beat Stuart Hogg’s record of 27 tries; he’ll obliterate it.
When Graham has his dancing shoes on, there aren’t many wingers in world rugby who can get near him in terms of his finishing prowess.
Where so many powerhouse wingers in the modern game look like they play rugby in steel-toe caps, Graham plays the game in stilettos.
Darcy Graham scored four tries on Saturday as Scotland beat Romania 84-0
His second try was a stunning solo effort that showed why he is among the best wingers in world rugby
The 26-year-old now has 24 tries in 38 caps and is on course to smash Stuart Hogg’s record
This was a rout of Romania, who did nothing to diminish their status as Pool B whipping boys, with Scotland’s second string turning on the style and running riot at the Stade Pierre-Mauroy.
Hamish Watson was back to his destructive best. A rampaging force of nature, especially in the first half, this was vintage Watson and a reminder of just how big an asset he is to Scotland.
Rory Darge has had the openside jersey under lock-and-key recently, but Townsend might well have a decision to make for the showdown against Ireland in Paris next Saturday night.
Graham, of course, doesn’t fall into the second-string category. He was one of the few first-choice players picked by Townsend for this match.
There’s no question he’ll be in the team for the win-or-bust clash with the Irish at the Stade de France and it will hearten Townsend to see Scotland’s pocket-rocket winger in such electric form.
The maths are a bit clearer now for Scotland. To extricate themselves from this pool of death and reach the knockout stages, they need to beat Ireland whilst denying them a losing bonus point.
If Ireland pick up a losing bonus point, Scotland need five points and a bonus-point win to progress on the head-to-head record.
There’s no doubt it’s still a tall order against the world’s No 1 team, but Townsend have given themselves a puncher’s chance and will be in confident mood after this crushing victory.
Hamish Watson scored the first try of the match as Scotland secured a vital bonus point
Ben Healy converted every try and scored one for himself in the closing moments
Indeed, the Scots only just fell short of their record World Cup win, the 89-0 triumph over the Ivory Coast in 1995. But, nonetheless, it was a satisfying night’s work. All roads now lead to Paris.
Having made a whopping 13 changes to his team from last week’s victory over Tonga in Nice, Townsend billed this match as a chance for Scotland’s fringe players to step up.
They couldn’t have wished for more obliging opposition, given that Romania had been pummelled by Ireland and South Africa in their opening two games and shipped over 150 points in the process.
Chris Harris and Kyle Steyn were the only two players who kept their places from the Tonga game, with Finn Russell, Duhan van der Merwe and most of the other big guns given the night off.
Given that Lille is situated in northern France and is easily accessible from both Paris and Brussels, it was no surprise that Scotland were backed by a large travelling support inside the Stade Pierre-Mauroy.
It almost felt like a home game and, clearly, the expectation among supporters was for Scotland to put on a show and turn this into a demolition job on Romania. They duly delivered.
They were on the front foot from the off, making good ground and getting over the gainline near enough every time they carried the ball into contact.
Making his first start of the World Cup, Watson looked like a man possessed in those early stages, smashing through a series of Romanian tacklers.
After some terrific work from Cam Redpath, it was Watson who profited by collecting the ball from a lovely offload to score in the corner on eight minutes.
Ali Price scored Scotland’s second try on 17 minutes when the electric figure of Graham darted through a gap and fed the scrum-half to run in unchallenged.
Cameron Redpath did not get on the scoresheet but put in an excellent performance at centre
Johnny Matthews scored off the bench after some great work by Blair Kinghorn and George Horne
Never one to miss out on the fun, Graham then scored a magnificent solo effort himself just a couple of minutes later, turning on the gas and jinking past a series of tackles.
We had only played 20 minutes, yet, already, you felt like Romania’s spirit had been broken. The Pool B minnows looked totally out their depth once again, just as they did against Ireland and the Springboks.
Romania were reduced to 13 men just after the half-hour mark when hooker Robert Irimescu was binned for a high shot on Ben Healy and flanker Florian Rosu followed him for collapsing a maul.
Graham scored his second – and Scotland’s fourth – try of the night on 35 minutes to ensure that the bonus point was wrapped up before half-time, with Matt Fagerson swiftly adding another.
Incredibly, Romania were then reduced to 12 men when full-back Marius Simionescu was sin-binned for a high shot on his opposite number Ollie Smith. Their discipline was atrocious.
Graham completed his hat-trick on the cusp of half-time as Scotland ripped through the Romanian defence once again.
Leading 42-0 at the interval, the second half became a training exercise for Scotland and a case of trying to minimise the risk of any injuries.
As the second half got under way, Scotland’s heel was still pressed firmly on Romania’s throat, with Chris Harris scoring in the corner on 46 minutes.
Scotland were starting to run the ball from all angles and all areas of the field. They looked like they could score any time they found even a yard of space.
Full-back Smith tore through the Romanian defence to score on 53 minutes. That was Scotland’s eighth try of the night, but you knew they weren’t finished there.
Matt Fagerson scored the fifth try that wrapped things up before the interval
Rory Darge scored an 11th against a ragged Romania, before Graham wrapped things up with a 12th
Making just his second Test start, fly-half Healy got in on the act when he raced under the posts after some good play from Graham in the build-up.
One of the most popular scorers of the night, Johnny Matthews ran in after some great work by Blair Kinghorn and George Horne.
Glasgow Warriors man Matthews had only been given a late call-up this week due to the injury crisis at hooker.
Darge got Scotland’s 11th try of the night, before Graham completed the rout by getting his fourth of the night. The demolition job was complete.