Captain Mihai Macovei scored a brace of tries as Romania overturned a 15-point deficit to beat Canada 17-15 in Leicester on Tuesday. CRAIG LEWIS reports.
For an hour Canada looked certain to win this encounter, but a dominant fourth quarter from Romania completely turned the game on its head.
Having fallen 15-0 behind just after half-time, Romania struck back with a well-worked lineout drive that culminated in a try to Macovei soon after, while centre Florin Vlaicu knocked over the conversion to make it a seven-point ball game.
With this momentum shift Romania piled on the pressure, and when Canada flanker Valentin Ursache was sent to the sin bin for coming in from the side and collapsing a maul with 10 minutes left to play, it was suddenly game on.
Macovei powered over to score in the 74th minute as the Canadian defence finally cracked, and a thrilling finish was in store with just one point separating the sides going into the final five minutes.
Vlaicu then stepped up to slot the match-winning penalty as Romania held on for the last couple of minutes to clinch an incredible victory.
Canada had been full of running early on wanting to keep the ball in hand, and while their execution was lacking, scrumhalf Gordon McRorie would provide some reward when he slotted a penalty in the 11th minute.
The Maple Leafs could have driven home their advantage when Romanian fullback Catalin Fercu was yellow-carded for taking a man out in the air, but the Oaks did well during that time to slow the game down for a bit of armwrestling.
Canada eventually managed to break down the Romanian defence when DTH van der Merwe dived over to score in the corner in the 34th minute.
They would extend their eight-point half-time advantage soon after the restart when winger Jeff Hassler scored a superb solo try, and flyhalf Nathan Hirayama took over the goal-kicking to take his side out to a 15-0 lead.
But that would be the last cause for celebration for Canada as Romania staged an incredible comeback to secure their first victory of the tournament, while the Maple Leafs bow out on a rather disappointing note.
Canada – Tries: DTH van der Merwe, Jeff Hassler. Conversions: Nathan Hirayama. Penalty: Gordon McRorie.
Romania – Try: Mihai Macovei (2). Conversions: Florin Vlaicu (2). Penalty: Vlaicu.
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.
Photo: Richard Heathcote/World Rugby