Graham shines as new 7s squad make positive start
John Dalziel’s new Scotland 7s squad made a bright start to their HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series reaching the Cup Quarter Finals.
With four debutants in the squad and only five players also involved in last season’s Cup victory in London, an inexperienced Scotland reached the Quarter Finals in Dubai with victories over France and Spain on day one.
rawn against Fiji, the Scots showed heart in defeat to the Olympic Champions before staging an impressive comeback against Samoa shortly after, losing to an extra time try.
It was a perfect start for John Dalziel’s men, Edinburgh Rugby’s Darcy Graham scoring twice in a 24-14 victory over the French.
Core player Nick McLennan and Melrose’s Ross McCann also crossing to put Scotland in a good place in their pool.
Next up were Spain and again it was Graham, Scotland’s stand out performer over the weekend, grabbing a brace that helped see off the tenacious Spanish.
Glasgow Warriors’ Max McFarland and Harvey Elms also scored in their first ever World Series tournaments as Scotland won 26-21.
Already qualified for the cup competition, Scotland faced England in their final pool game. Starved of he ball and on the end of some clinical English attack the Scots ended the day with a 0-29 defeat.
Drawn against Fiji in the Cup Quarter Finals Scotland started on the back foot immediately as the Pacific Islanders ran in a try straight from kick off.
Darcy Graham continued his fine form from day one scoring two solo tries in the first half however Jamie Farndale’s and Robbie Fergusson’s efforts in the second seven weren’t enough for victory and the Olympic Champions progressed 24-35.
Up next were Samoa in the fifth place semi final and with three minutes to go the Scots trailed 5-22, Gavin Lowe’s try their only contribution to the game.
Refusing to lie down however they hit back and three tries courtesy of Graham, McLennan and Farndale forced the game to go to extra time.
However, Dalziel’s men were unable to score a fourth successive try to secure the win and Samoa took the game with a next score wins try.
Scotland 7s Head Coach John Dalziel said: “There has been lots of great learnings for the boys and I’ve been really happy with their efforts all week.
“It’s a brutal level now and there are no easy games at all so I’m really happy to secure a top eight finish with such a new and inexperienced group.
“There is plenty to build on. Our youngsters were fantastic, Darcy Graham was absolutely outstanding, he is another Stuart Hogg in the making. I’ve seen it before in big games for the U20s and he had some huge moments here this weekend. He is an exceptional talent.
“Harvey Elms, Robbie Fergusson, Max McFarland and Ross McCann all competed in their first tournaments and looked really capable. The challenge is to build on the good parts and improve and tidy up certain areas.
“We know where we are as a squad and we will work hard to improve over the coming weeks.”