Darcy Graham reveals Finn Russell's half-time message and relishes the return of France's big dogs
Gregor Townsend’s side were 21-3 down at the interval but came out and scored 22 unanswered points to win 25-21 in Finn Russell’s first game as captain. “We had a chat at half-time about what we wanted to get out of it, and Finn just said, ‘let’s go out, have some fun and chuck the ball about’,” explained Graham, whose try in the 46th minute sparked the comeback. If the winger makes it sound easy, he’s being modest. Graham showed outstanding speed and awareness to notch the opening score after a perfectly judged cross-kick from Russell. Graham, who missed a large chunk of last season with a serious knee injury, is looking sharper with every game and just managed to apply downward pressure on the ball ahead of France wing Ethan Dumortier.
The dismissal of Zander Fagerson shortly afterwards failed to derail Scotland, who scored further tries through Pierre Schoeman and Dave Cherry. The major caveat is that France were playing a largely experimental side but the way the Scots were able to wrest back control of the match after being second best in the opening 40 minutes came as a major morale booster.
“That’s our game, that’s what we want to be doing, but we didn’t do it in the first half,” added Graham who has now scored seven tries in his last four international matches. “We didn’t look after the ball well enough and never really got any phases going, which meant we struggled.
"France put a serious amount of pressure on us in that first half, but the second half was a lot of fun. We went into the dressing room at half-time and were like, ‘we pretty much need to start again, go back to what we do and do it well’. You can get hung up on things like that, but if you let it bother you, you’re never going to win the game so you do have to write it off.”
Scotland have enjoyed home comforts in their opening World Cup warm-ups, beating Italy and France at Murrayfield. They travel to Saint-Étienne this weekend to play the French again and Fabien Galthie’s side are expected to field a side which closer resembles their first choice, meaning a return for the likes of Romain Ntamack, Antoine Dupont, Gaël Fickou and Grégory Alldritt. Graham believes it’s exactly the sort of test Scotland need as they prepare for their World Cup opener against South Africa on September 10.
“We want to play the best in the world and the French team is the best in the world when they’ve got all their big dogs back,” said Graham. “It’s going to be a tough one to go over there but we are going to look at ourselves hard after that first half especially and then take the positives from the second half. We’re going to go over there and be confident, especially after that second half. If we can play like that for the full 80 minutes, I don’t see why we can’t turn them over or have an upset. It would be a big statement.”
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