THERE is surely no sight in Scottish rugby more inspiring than that of Darcy Graham in full flight en route to the try line, and the Edinburgh winger allowed us to see it twice on Saturday night as his team beat the Dragons 44-6.

The first try was simple by Graham’s own high standards as he gathered a pass off the back of a maul from Chris Dean and sliced straight through from less than 10 metres out.

The second was spectacular: taking a pass from Charlie Savala just outside the Welsh team’s 22, the Scotland international set off on a mazy run which left half a dozen Dragons defenders trailing in his wake.

Such scores may be 10 a penny in American football, where the ball-carrier has blockers to ease his passage to the line. In rugby, they are a far more precious currency, and this example simply highlighted how special a talent Graham is.

Edinburgh had already scored first-half tries through Ben Vellacott and Glen Young by the time Graham got in on the act with those two touchdowns after the break, and three more tries followed, from Damien Hoyland, Blair Kinghorn and Chris Dean. Mark Bennett chipped in with three conversions and a penalty, and it would be fair to say that, even without Graham’s contribution, the match would have been won comfortably enough.

Even so, as Edinburgh prepare to fly out to South Africa today ahead of matches against the Bulls and the Stormers this weekend and next, the winger’s double was a welcome reminder of just how good Mike Blair’s team can be at their best. Graham’s instinctive incisiveness might only have been the icing on the cake against the Dragons, but when it comes to those games against last season’s URC runners-up and winners, such touches of magic could make all the difference.

Certainly, the man himself feels the squad will head south for their next two matches on a high this morning in a confident mood thanks to that seven-try victory.

“They are going to be tough games out there, but we can take huge confidence from the Dragons win and really fly into it,” Graham said. “We can build on that performance. We were a bit rusty in the first half, but we spoke about it at half time and really put those points into practice in the second half. We were really clinical and blew them out the park.”

After leading the league at one point in the 2021-22 season, Edinburgh ended up seventh. That meant a trip to the Stormers in the quarter-finals, and they duly lost to the eventual champions. This time round, Graham believes a top-four finish is essential; that would mean a home quarter-final, and a far better chance of progressing.

“We had the opportunity to finish in the top four last season, and a few games let us down,” he continued. “Missing out on a few points, not getting bonus points, kind of let us down. Every point is valuable, so it’s good to start the season hot like we did and continue that performance.

“We need to be finishing in that top four, we want a home quarter-final at the end of the season. Of course, it’s early doors right now, but it was a good performance and a good start.”

A good start to the URC campaign it definitely was, but, as Graham said, his team made a slow start to the actual Dragons match. They will need to be sharper straight from kick-off against the Bulls at Loftus Versfeld in Pretoria on Saturday, and again when they take on the Stormers seven days later at Cape Town’s DHL Stadium, which was the venue for last season’s final.

Blair was pleased enough with Edinburgh’s performance against the Welsh side. But he acknowledged they will need to raise their game to have a realistic chance of beating either of their next two opponents.

“I think it’s going to be a huge challenge,” the head coach said. “Against the Bulls, it’s going to be about 26 or 27 degrees, at altitude. It’s brilliant, what a great place to go.

“And then we go into the Stormers game. I’m really looking forward to it. I’m really enthused, excited and looking forward to this game, and I’m not always like that!

“I’m delighted we’ve got the Dragons game done and can head to South Africa with some smiles on our faces. But we’re aware that it’s going to take a hell of an effort to get something out of these games.”

The Bulls won 31-15 at the Lions in their first outing of the season at the weekend. The Stormers’ round-one game at the Sharks will not be held until February, so their first competitive match of the season will be at home to Connacht on Saturday.