Rugby World Cup 2015

Romania reign after late storm

Romania players rejoice after mounting the biggest comeback in World Cup history after scoring 17 points in the final 28 minutes.
Romania players rejoice after mounting the biggest comeback in World Cup history after scoring 17 points in the final 28 minutes.PHOTO: ACTION IMAGES

They overturn 15-pt deficit to beat Canada, Uruguay score first tries since 2003 edition

LEICESTER • Romania coach Lynn Howells ordered his team to "pull your socks up" at half-time and the East Europeans pulled off the biggest comeback in Rugby World Cup history against Canada on Tuesday.

Romania captain Mihai Macovei got two tries in the final 28 minutes as his side fought back from 0-15 down to beat their stunned opponents 17-15.

Howells' team could just nail down third place in Pool D and an automatic qualifying place for the 2019 World Cup if they defeat Italy on Sunday.

"Semi-final won, now we play the final," Howells declared.

"There is still an opportunity; in rugby, anything is possible.

"Against Italy, the players understand they're playing a tier-one nation and they've to lift their game."

Canada, however, ended their World Cup with four straight group losses for the first time. Captain Jamie Cudmore said the mood in the dressing room was "horrible".

The Canadians could not believe their luck after DTH van der Merwe scored a try for the fourth straight match. He joins an elite group, including All Blacks legend Jonah Lomu, who have scored in every group match at a World Cup.

Romania were reduced to 14 men for part of the first half when Catalin Fercu was sin-binned for taking out Nick Blevins in mid-air.

Van der Merwe finished off an excellent play created by wing Jeff Hassler's surge through the Romanian defence to touch down.

And despite Howells' lashing, Canada came out straining at the leash in the second period. Hassler got a deserved try of his own in the 44th minute, with Nathan Harayama making the initial inroad.

Then, the Romanian storm hit.

Their first try stemmed from their scrum rocking their opponents back on their heels and over the line.

Macovei claimed the try and Florian Vlaicu converted.

Canada might have held out but for a moment of madness by Jebb Sinclair. Eight minutes from time, he became the third Canadian to be yellow-carded in the tournament.

Two minutes later, Macovei peeled off a scrum for his second try. Vlaicu converted for 15-14 and set up a nerve-racking final five minutes in which he scored a superb long-range penalty to take the lead. That took Vlaicu to a national record of 636 points.

Howells said he had no doubt that his side could win and his half-time message had been direct.

"The disappointing thing for me is that we played so poorly in the first half and that is not something that is acceptable," he said.

"We had to stop the quick ball and I think we became more effective at that in the second half."

History was also made in Tuesday's other game.

Uruguay scored their first World Cup tries for 12 years but could not stop Nemani Nadolo from leading Fiji to a rampaging 47-15 victory to end their campaign.

Carlos Arboleya got Uruguay's first try in the tournament since Pablo Lemoine, now team coach, crossed the whitewash against England at the 2003 World Cup.

Agustin Ormaechea scored a second, sparking more wild celebrations by the South American underdogs.

However, he also became the first player sent off at the tournament as tempers flared.

Fiji claimed seven tries in a mainly flowing display of the running rugby they love.

Nadolo, coming back from a one- match suspension, scored the final try and also kicked six conversions.

It was Fiji's first Pool A win after being beaten by England, Wales and Australia in one of the toughest 13 days any team could have known at the World Cup.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 08, 2015, with the headline 'ROMANIA REIGN AFTER LATE STORM'. Print Edition | Subscribe