Darcy Graham hopes Hawick connection can help Scotland prosper in Wales
Darcy Graham’s two tries against Georgia took his Scotland total to seven in nine starts but the winger knows chances will be at a premium when Gregor Townsend’s side face Wales in Llanelli on Saturday.
The Scots plundered eight tries on Friday night, helped in places by some slipshod Georgian defending. Wales are unlikely to be as generous as they attempt to end their disappointing Six Nations Championship on a high.
The Welsh have gone from Grand Slam champions under Warren Gatland to mid-table scufflers under his successor, Wayne Pivac. The best they can hope for in this strangest of seasons is a fourth-place finish and they must beat Scotland to do that.
Graham, who made his Test debut as a sub against Wales two years ago, believes Scotland must be clinical at Parc y Scarlets.
“Wales have got a really good defence, so we’re only going to get a few chances, so we’re going to have to really take them when they’re on. Two years ago on my first cap we didn’t do that - we had a few chances but we never executed them and we ended up losing the game [21-10].
“It’s going to be a tough game down there, and Wales will attack a lot more than the Georgians did, and we probably won’t see as much ball as we did on Friday night. So we’ll have to get our heads round that defensively and get up for that game, because we will have a lot more defending to do.”
The return of Stuart Hogg following his exploits with Exeter creates the intriguing prospect of three Hawick men lining in the same Scotland side, with the full-back expected to start alongside Graham and prop Rory Sutherland.
During the Borders club’s 1970s and 1980s heyday, when the Greens ruled the roost in Scottish rugby, this was commonplace. The Hawick connection is a source of civic pride for Graham.
“It's definitely a buzz,” he acknowledged. “I’ve looked up to Hoggy all my life pretty much. He has been a big part of my journey. To see him and ‘Suz’ coming along and playing so well, coming back from his long-term injury, is really nice.”
Graham has been adopted by Edinburgh and jokes that he now has to speak “proper English”. “When I first came up to Edinburgh nobody understood me so I had to change my accent!”
The Edinburgh influence is proving as strong as the Hawick one for Scotland, with the capital side’s back three linking up to good effect against Georgia. Graham, full-back Blair Kinghorn and debutant winger Duhan van der Merwe all got among the tries on Friday.
“Me, Blair and Duhan complement each other really well so it was really exciting to have our whole Edinburgh back three,” said Graham. “I think that was the first time we have all scored in the same game so it was quite nice for us all.
“I kind of know what Blair is going to do before he knows it. I always give him room to work off. It definitely helps knowing what they are going to do, it does make a huge difference. Duhan has fitted right in and has not looked out of place.”
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