Scotland have survived a massive scare to beat Romania 34-24 in a pulsating pool B match in Invercargill. Romania had taken the lead 24-21 with 12 minutes left in the match after Daniel Carpo had barged over from close range, and it looked as if the Tall Oaks were heading for one of the biggest upsets seen at a World Cup. Two tries to Scottish winger Simon Danielli in the final six minutes gave them the win, and also a vital bonus point.
Scotland started the match in fine fashion, spreading the ball from the opening kickoff. Sean Lamont making a clean break to take the Scots sixty meters down the field and in good position. A Romanian indiscretion at the ruck gifted Scotland an easy kick for veteran Chris Paterson, which he slotted through the posts to put the favourites on the board inside the first minutes.
A few minutes later, an offload from Ansbro on the left flank put Danielli in a gap, and his weaving run and pass sent Mike Blair over to score Scotland’s first try of the tournament. Chris Paterson’s conversion was not the finest moment of his long career. As he went to strike the ball, it tipped, and he could only manage to kick it along the ground.
After a Romanian penalty goal, Scotland scored again, this time through Ansbro. The centre slid through the defence all too easily to make it 15-3. A penalty was added from both sides before Romania went on attack in the dying minutes of the half. Romania’s game plan of pick and go was troubling Scotland’s defence, and Mihaita Lazar took advantage to push himself over the line and send the crowd into raptures. Dumbrava failed with the conversion, but you could see the confidence building.
The second half saw some entertaining rugby played by both sides. They traded penalties before the Carpo try looked to have set the Romanian’s up for a famous win. But a Paterson penalty and two tries from Danieli, who was strong throughout, sealed the victory for the more fancied side. It was a wonderful and entertaining game, one that showed Romania fully deserved to be in New Zealand. Scotland will be happy with the five competition points, but not with the way they achieved it and they will need to improve if they are to progress further. Romania can walk away with their heads held high.
Man of the match: Romanian Captain Marius Tincu was inspirational. His set play was solid, and his work around the ruck was that of a flanker.
Tries: Danielli (2), Blair, Ansbro
Pen: Paterson (4)
Tries: Lazar, Carpo
Pen: Dumbrava (2), Dimofte (2)
By Alex Barlow-Smith