'Do or die': Scotland plan to disrupt #RWC Pool B prediction
IN THE SPOTLIGHT: Scotland’s Darcy Graham may have impressed by scoring four tries in Saturday’s 84-0 rout of Romania in the World Cup but the wing knows there is a bigger challenge ahead against Ireland next weekend.
Graham’s side need to beat the world number one side in Paris next Saturday to maintain any hopes of reaching the quarterfinals.
A bonus point win over Pool B leaders Ireland, with a margin of eight points or more, would guarantee Scotland’s first World Cup knockout stage appearance in eight years.
“It’s do or die now, it’s almost a World Cup final for both teams,” said Graham.
“Winner takes it all pretty much. For us it’s about getting our week right and fire into an incredible week, it’s a very exciting time ahead,” the 26-year-old added.
Scotland’s recent record against their Celtic cousins is poor, having last beaten them in 2017.
Ireland are favourites to lift the Webb Ellis trophy later this month having not lost in 16 Tests against all opposition, their most recent victory coming over holders South Africa on September 23.
“It’s been a long time since we’ve beaten Ireland, which is credit to them, they’re a really tough team,” Scotland flank Hamish Watson said.
“They looked great against South Africa. It’s probably the way we prefer it, when we’re the underdogs, a bit written off and need to win by eight and stuff like that,” he added.
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In the space of a year Watson has gone from captaining his country on tour to Argentina to starting just once this World Cup.
Head coach Gregor Townsend has preferred 23-year-old Rory Darge in the openside jersey but Watson’s abrasive performance against Romania made a case to be involved in the French capital.
“I feel like I’ve put myself forward for the conversation of selection,” 31-year-old Watson said.
“We’ll see what the coaches do. It’s a massive game for us,” he added.
Graham, on the other hand, is likely to start at the Stade de France.
Pocket-sized Graham is in fine form and has five tries at the World Cup thanks to his four touchdowns in the Romania hammering.
He is within four of Stuart Hogg’s record of 27 for Scotland.
This weekend he will come up against Ireland wingers James Lowe and Mack Hansen.
“They’re incredible. They’re so well-drilled. You can’t take your eyes off any of their backs,” Graham said.
“For myself I have to be switched on the whole 80 minutes, not dropping off because they will sting you if you do that.
“We’re not going to beat the number one team in the world if we don’t turn up for the 80 minutes. It’s something we’ll challenge this week,” he added.