Romania's captain Mihai Macovei

Romania stuns Canada with 17-15 comeback win at RWC

Vlaicu lands late penalty as Romania stuns Canada 17-15 to clinch best-ever RWC comeback win

By Jerome Pugmire, The Associated Press

LEICESTER, England – Romania produced the biggest comeback in Rugby World Cup history to rally from a 15-point deficit and beat Canada 17-15 in a Rugby World Cup Pool D match on Tuesday, clinching the dramatic victory with a nerveless late penalty from centre Florin Vlaicu.

It was not as dramatic as France’s semifinal comeback against New Zealand at the 1999 World Cup, where the French trailed 24-10 before triumphing 43-31. But it was certainly tension-filled at Leicester’s City Stadium, as Vlauci held his nerve to land the winning kick with three minutes left.

Canada was in control when left winger DTH Van Der Merwe scored late in the first half — his fourth try of the tournament — and right winger Jeff Hassler crossed four minutes after halftime.

But Romania’s bold decision to forsake penalty kicks for attacking lineouts and scrums paid off.

Canada played the last eight minutes with a man down after flanker Jebb Sinclair was sin-binned, and paid a serious price. Four missed shots at goal and too many wasted attacking chances also cost the Canadians.

“We said if we could stay within 14 points going into the last 20 minutes we knew we’d get the chance,” Romania coach Lynn Howells said. “We saw that — Canada’s wide game fell apart.”

Still, it needed an inspired individual performance to get them going and captain Mihai Macovei delivered it for Romania with two tries, the No. 8 bundling over the line for his second with five minutes left.

“He’s a captain that leads by example, even when we did struggle he was able to pull everyone together,” Howells said.

Canada’s players appealed for a double-movement on the second try, but referee Wayne Barnes awarded it after asking for a television referral. Vlaicu — who missed two first-half penalty attempts — added the extras and there was just one point in it.

After Canada’s scrum was penalized in the 78th minute, Vlaicu calmly guided his kick through the posts to send the Romania fans into celebrations.

“He’s the top point scorer in Romanian rugby and he deserves that,” Howells said.

Romania has four points and can still finish in third place in the group — assuring automatic qualification for the 2019 World Cup — if it beats Italy next weekend.

Canada has played some great attacking rugby at this tournament, but it has also thrown away game-winning positions, having led 10-0 against Italy before losing 23-18.

“We did some pretty naive things in the last 30 minutes,” Canada coach Kieran Crowley said. “Romania deserved to win.”

Van Der Merwe showed his clinical finishing skills, side-stepping left and then cutting back right for his fourth try of the tournament and 20th in tests to make it 8-0 after 33 minutes. Van Der Merwe has scored in every pool game and only New Zealand’s Julian Savea has more with five tries.

Hassler, too, showed great strength to break two tackles to make it 15-0 early in the second half.

Then it all went wrong.

“We got a try straight after halftime and then the wheels fell off,” Crowley said. “We’re just not good enough in the final plays. We just have to get better.”

Scrumhalf Gordon McRorie landed only one of three penalties and missed a conversion in the first half. Flyhalf Nathan Hirayama took kicking duties after the break, and although he converted the second try he also missed a penalty.

It was a scrappy early on, not helped by the wet conditions caused by a downpour before kickoff.

The Oaks got their first chance for points when Canada collapsed the scrum but Vlaicu’s effort from near halfway fell short. His next long-range effort missed, too, but he was saving his best for last.

Howells said the players would celebrate in moderation.

“They’ve earned the right,” he said. “They’ll have a beer but it won’t be to any great extent.”

For now.

The celebrations promise to be wilder if Romania beats Italy.

Just Posted

Officer leads the flare in Saanich Police’s social media

Triangle dance latest addition to Saanich Police social media anthology

U.S. college bribery scandal shines light on serious problem in Canada

Looking at the bigger picture of marginalization in universities

Royal romance sequel shooting in Victoria: Harry & Meghan: Becoming Royal filming at Union Club

Sequel depicts romance between Prince Harry and American actress Meghan Markle

BC Ferries looks for more feedback on 25-year plan for Swartz Bay

Some suggestions already under consideration include a cycling route, waterfront park

B.C. resident baffled about welcome mat theft

Security footage shows a woman and her dog taking the mat from the property on March 13

Father thanks B.C. Mountie for shooting hoops with kids, ‘changing perspectives’

‘We’re just like everyone else,’ says Surrey officer who stopped to play basketball with kids

2019 BUDGET: As deficit grows, feds spend on job retraining, home incentives

Stronger economy last year delivered unexpected revenue bump of an extra $27.8 billion over six years

Victim succumbs to injuries suffered in Campbell River hit and run

The female pedestrian that was struck in a hit and run on… Continue reading

Trans Mountain court hearing: B.C. says it won’t reject pipelines without cause

Canada says the proposed amendments to B.C.’s Environmental Management Act must be struck down

Carfentanil found in 15% of overdose deaths in January: B.C. coroner

Carfentanil is 100 times more powerful than illicit fentanyl and used to tranquilize elephants

B.C. father fights for his life after flu turns into paralyzing condition

Reisig has lost all motor skills with the exception of slight head, shoulder and face movements.

Suspicious fire in Alert Bay burns two homes, spreads to nearby bush

Police say underage suspects have been identified

Greater Victoria Wanted List for the week of March 19

Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers is seeking the public’s help in locating the… Continue reading

Most Read