Romania will have to nullify the threat of Canadian wing DTH van der Merwe at Leicester City Stadium on Tuesday. MARIETTE ADAMS reports.
Despite showing a great deal of promise and growth since the last tournament, neither the Oaks nor the Maple Leafs have been able to claim victory at this World Cup. One of them, though, could break their duck when they meet in an intriguing battle.
Boasting a physical pack, Romania are renowned for their forward prowess, but have shown little enterprise on attack.
In contrast, Canada's backline has been creative in their previous three matches, while the forwards were overpowered and bullied by the French, Irish and Italians.
Van der Merwe has been in scintillating form at the global showpiece, scoring in each of his three outings, which saw him break the Canadian record for most World Cup tries. But while the 29-year-old, who hails from Worcester in the Cape Winelands, is best known for his magical stepping and powerful fends, his defensive game has also been of the highest quality.
Romania hold a three-Test winning streak over Canada, the last two coming in 2013 and 2014 respectively, thanks in no small part to Florin Vlaicu. The inside centre was a thorn in Canada's side when he kicked seven penalty goals in the Oaks' 21-20 win two years ago and six in their 18-9 victory last year.
If Canada are to overturn that record, they'll need Van der Merwe to exploit the Oaks' defensive frailties, while Vlaicu has to maintain his fine form against the Maple Leafs to see Romania home.
Kieran Crowley has made six changes to Canada's starting lineup for their final game of the tournament, while counterpart Lynn Howells has swapped seven for what will be Romania's penultimate match.
VAN DER MERWE'S STATS THAT MATTER
3 – Tries scored at this World Cup
328 – Metres made
13 – Defenders beaten
6 – Clean breaks
5 – Turnovers won
17 – Tackles made
HEAD TO HEAD
Romania 3, Canada 2
Canada – 15 Harry Jones, 14 Jeff Hassler, 13 Ciaran Hearn, 12 Nick Blevins, 11 DTH van der Merwe, 10 Nathan Hirayama, 9 Gordon McRorie, 8 Aaron Carpenter, 7 John Moonlight, 6 Jebb Sinclair, 5 Jamie Cudmore (c), 4 Brett Beukeboom, 3 Doug Wooldridge, 2 Ray Barkwill, 1 Hubert Buydens.
Subs: 16 Benoit Piffero, 17 Djustice Sears-Duru, 18 Jake Ilnicki, 19 Kyle Gilmour, 20 Nanyak Dala, 21 Phil Mack, 22 Conor Trainor, 23 James Pritchard.
Romania – 15 Catalin Fercu, 14 Madalin Lemnaru, 13 Paula Kinikinilau, 12 Florin Vlaicu, 11 Ionut Botezatu, 10 Michael Wiringi, 9 Florin Surugiu, 8 Mihai Macovei (c), 7 Viorel Lucaci, 6 Valentin Ursache, 5 Johan van Heerden, 4 Valentin Poparlan, 3 Paulica Ion, 2 Otar Turashvili, 1 Mihaita Lazar.
Subs: 16 Andrei Radoi, 17 Andrei Ursache, 18 Alexandru Tarus, 19 Daniel Carpo, 20 Stelian Burcea, 21 Valentin Calafeteanu, 22 Adrian Apostol, 23 Csaba Gal.
Referee: Wayne Barnes (England)
Assistant referees: Glen Jackson (New Zealand), Marius Mitrea (Italy)
TMO: Ben Skeen (New Zealand)
Photo: Jan-Hendrik Kruger/Getty Images