Romania has recorded its first Rugby World Cup victory since 2007 thanks to a magnificent 17-15 win against Canada in Leicester on Tuesday. The Oaks were 15-0 down going into the last half hour and came back beautifully to record a first World Cup win in eight years to condemn the Canucks to four straight losses in England. A 78th minute penalty by Florin Vlaicu gave the men in white a 17-15 victory over the North Americans in their final 2015 World Cup match.
The Canadians had built a 15-0 lead thanks to tries from DTH Van Der Merwe and Jeff Hassler but the Romanians scored 10 points in the final five minutes to pull off the victory. Canada captain Jamie Cudmore says: ‘It’s truly disappointing every time we lose. I’d personally like to apologise to everyone. It just wasn’t good enough.’ With eight minutes left, a Romania try was upheld but referee Wayne Barnes came back for an earlier infraction that saw him send Jebb Sinclair to the sin bin.
Skipper Mihai Macovei would touch down two minutes later for his second try of the game after scoring earlier in the 53rd minute. Centre Florin Vlaicu, the eastern Europeans’ all-time points leader, would then step up in the 78th minute to slot home the game-winner. It’s the fourth straight time the Oaks have beaten the Maple Leaves.
Head coach Kieran Crowley says: ‘We played all right in first half but didn’t get enough points. In the second half, their scrum and drive got going and we were pretty naive in our decision making which is pretty disappointing.’ With an 8-0 lead at half time, Crowley’s crop got off to a flying start in the second half as Hassler, who had missed the last two games due to injury, scored his fourth Test try after bulldozing through the Romanian line. He was named man of the match.
Hassler says: ‘We were very close. We’re losing in the last few minutes, we will learn and we’ve shown the world we can compete with the top nations.’ After Macovei’s first try, the Canucks had a chance to get three points back but Nathan Hirayama’s penalty missed. In total, the North Americans left 11 points on the board through missed kicks.
Crowley says: ‘We have to stop learning. We can’t keep learning all the time. We had that game there and we lost it.’ McRorie thought he had his first career Test try less than five minutes in to the game as he snuck down the sideline after picking up the ball from the ruck but Barnes called it back for an infraction on Nick Blevins at the breakdown. McRorie was at it again five minutes later but his penalty missed left but it took just two minutes more for him to give the Canadians an early 3-0 lead, a deserved reward for a dominant opening 15 minutes.
The men in white had a chance to tie the game but Vlaicu’s effort from the halfway line came up short and two minutes later Catalin Fercu was sent to the sin bin for taking Blevins out in the air. Crowley’s crop couldn’t generate much with the man advantage however — McRorie missing a second penalty the best they could muster. The Maple Leaves’ attacking prowess was awarded in the 34th minute when Van Der Merwe went over for his fourth try in four World Cup games after Canada used the overlap out wide giving the Scarlets man his 20th test try while becoming the first man playing for a Tier 2 nation to score four tries in four successive Rugby World Cup matches.
He also becomes only the second player to score in all four pool games at a World Cup — Shane Williams of Wales in 2007 is the other. The men in red conclude their Rugby World Cup campaign by going 0-4, only the second time they’ve never won a game at the tournament. Despite the results, Crowley’s charges demonstrated they can compete with the best nations in the world as in matches against three Tier 1 nations, Canada came very close to beating Italy and kept Ireland and France in check for large portions of the game.
Cudmore says: ‘We’re progressing. We’ve shown we can play with the big boys. We need more games like that as that’s the only way we can progress. We played attractive rugby. We just need more games against top competition.’ Jake Ilnicki made his Rugby World Cup debut as a replacement while James Pritchard replaced Harry Jones to take part in his fourth Rugby World Cup. Crowley says: ‘There’s always something to build on. The bottom line is we didn’t win today and we should have.’
Photo credit: Colin Watson