IRB Nations Cup
Hosts Romania squeeze into Nations Cup finale
By Chris Thau
Hosts Romania managed to overcome archrivals Russia 13-12 in another captivating match full of error and incident, the final act of the second day of the IRB Nations Cup in Bucharest.
In doing so they set the scene for a winner-takes-all clash with the Emerging Springboks next Friday at the Arcul de Triumf Stadium in Bucharest.
The scoreline was indicative of the entire day's play with the South Africans also pipping Italy by a single point, 20-19, and Georgia beating Uruguay, 20-18.
The Russians played with a passion and expertise missing in their opening match against Italy and they attacked without inhibition, although never genuinely threatening the Romanian line. Running the ball at every opportunity and varying their angles of attack, they did force errors from Romania and penalty chances duly followed.
Russia took the lead after just five minutes of what turned out to be the tightest of first halves. Scrum half and playmaker Alexander Yanyuskin stroked his penalty attempt between the posts, but the three-point lead was soon cancelled out by Romania fly half Dan Dumbrava.
An attritional 30 minutes ensued, before Yanyuskin again nudged the Russians ahead 6-3. Dumbrava, however, converted a chance on the stroke of half time to draw the scores level.
After the break the diminutive Yanyuskin scored two more unanswered penalties to hush the home crowd and with little over 10 minutes remaining the away side led 12-6 and looked destined for victory.
However, the turning point came when a penalty was given against Russia near the 10-metre line. The Romanians opted to kick into touch and through several long and well organised drives moved inexorably towards the Russian goalposts before hooker Florin Tasca crashed over for his first international try to mark only his second cap. Dumbrava made no mistake with the conversion and the Romanian crowd went home happy, victors 13-12.
Two other players to have impressed in a new look Romanian team were full back Adrian Barbuliceanu on his international debut and new scrum half Florin Surugiu, who became the first player from the Olympia Bucharest club to gain international honours.
Costica Mersoiu, Romania captain
"This was an important win for us because we had lost three consecutive matches to Russia and we were desperately keen to win this one.
"I am genuinely delighted. We played with our hearts and we showed that we are a team. We wanted also to reward the many spectators who have come to support us. We will play the South Africans in the final when anything is possible."
Ellis Meachen, Romania Director of Rugby
"I am happy with the performance of the team, especially since we respected the game plan. We have ironed out the errors we have made in the Uruguay match and we have capitalised on the good moments we play.
"I know how good the Emerging Springboks are, with very pacy backs and keen to defend the title they won last year. This win has given us a bit of confidence. We have a young team that's starting to play well under pressure and I hope they will show that against the South Africans."
Nicolay Nekrush, Russia Coach
"Romania played very well today and took advantage of our many errors. Without that many errors, we may have been able to win.
Zorik Masandilov, Russia Manager
"It was a good match, with both teams trying hard to win. Congratulations to Romania and also thank you to my players who did very well. We have lost captain Marchenko and Alex Voytov, both injured which made a difference. We won the last three games, now it was the turn of Romania to win the fourth.
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