Romania stun Canada in thriller

Romania's Florin Vlaicu kicks to win the match against Canada
Romania's Florin Vlaicu kicks to win the match against Canada

Promoted as a clash between power and finesse - Romania's forwards versus Canada's backs - the Pool D clash at the King Power stadium in Leicester lived up aptly to its pre-match billing on Tuesday afternoon with Romania's hard-nosed, dominating, forwards-heavy gameplan proving to be the superior form of rugby, at least for this scintillating, rainy-drenched Tuesday afternoon fixture with the Oaks running out comeback winners 17-15. 

A furious second-forty onslaught that saw Romania camped in the Canadian 22 for practically all of the second half proved the decisive factor as Romania came back from being 15-0 down with only 29 minutes left to secure a monumental first World Cup win.

Two tries from captain Mihai Macovei, both, predictably, at the back of a ruthlessly punishing rolling maul, saw the Oaks pull to within a point before all-time top points scorer Florin Vlaicu further cemented his legacy as one of the greatest players ever to turn out for the Eastern European nation with the winning penalty on 77 minutes.

Canada, now losers of eight competitive matches in a row, will be left bemused as to just how they managed to finish this year's competition with no wins, having been in complete control for the first five-eights of the game.

An early Gordon McRorie penalty pushed the Canucks out in front after 10 minutes, and although Canada was unable to benefit from Catalin Fercu's yellow-card on 19 minutes, DTH van der Merwe continued his perfect record of scoring in every pool game in this year's tournament with a composed finish in the right corner shortly after Fercu returned to action. McRorie's conversion - typical unfortunately of an atrocious day at the kicking office for the scrum-half - was sliced wide.

Indeed McRorie will be particularly distraught following Romania's usurpation having left eight points on the board before being yanked from kicking duties for Nathan Hirayama shortly after half-time.

Canada's fearsome back play continued immediately after the half-time break with Jeff Hassler scoring a wonderful, individual effort that saw him power through six Romanian defenders on a short-midfield cut on 43 minutes. Hirayama's subsequent conversion pushed Canada out to a fifteen point lead and a ubiquitously presumed victory.

However Romania responded in monumentus fashion; namely by entrenching themselves in Canada's half for practically the rest of the game. Macovei finally managed to put Romania's game-long dominance amongst the forwards to good use; scoring his first try on 52 minutes.

And the Oaks' ability to pin and trap Canada in their own half paid dividends, albeit only after a further 20 minutes of near-continuous pressure that saw Romania block box-kicks, force knock-ons and pressure Canada's unorthodox one-jumper lineouts to effectively blanket Canada.

Following a penalty, and a kick to the corner, Macovei once again rumbled over after simply magnificent work from the Romanian rolling maul, and following an infringement from yet another punishing Romanian scrum, Vlaicu sunk the decisive penalty to secure an outstanding victory for not only Romania, but for this year's tournament as well.