IRB Nations Cup
By Chris Thau in Bucharest
Romania 26 Emerging Italy 13
Romania retained the IRB Nations Cup after a 26-13 victory over Emerging Italy in Bucharest on Sunday evening.
Mercurial full back Catalin Fercu was the star of the show for the Oaks with a brace of tries and centre Florin Vlaicu contributed 16 points with the boot.
Emerging Italy took the lead twice in a tight first half but Romania dominated after the break to go on and lift the trophy at the Arcul de Triumf stadium.
The 6,000-odd capacity crowd included some of the most famous names in Romanian sport - the likes of gymnast Nadia Comaneci, tennis star Ion Tiriac, the chairman of the Olympic Committee Octavian Morariu, and the Minister for Sport and Youth Nicolae Branicioiu.
It was the Italians who took the lead, though, fly half James Ambrosini atoning for an earlier miss with a penalty on 19 minutes.
However their advantage was short-lived as Fercu went over for the first of two tries following a quick tap penalty. Vlaicu added the conversion and was also successful with a penalty three minutes later to make it 10-3 to the home side.
But back came the Italians with their first and only try of the evening, a scything run resulting in Andrea Praticetti getting his name on the scoresheet for a try which Ambrosini improved. Ambrosini and Vlaicu then traded penalties to ensure the sides went into the break with the scores tied at 13-all.
A high-error count from both sides made for a stop-start second half. Romania moved six points to the good when Vlaicu kicked two penalties and Ambrosini missed both his attempts at goal.
The match and the title was finally sealed when Fercu burst away from a powerful driving maul – a feature of the Romanians play - to sprint over the line from 15 metres out. Vlaicu converted for a final score of 26-13.
Argentina Jaguars 30 Russia 17
Two classy first half tries through right wing Macario Villaluenga and centre Juan Capiello, both created by skipper and influential playmaker Juan Pablo Estelles, helped Argentina Jaguars to a 30-17 win over Russia in Sunday’s wooden spoon decider.
Pacey left wing Ivan Kotov responded with an exquisite try for Russia, who, as always, were well led by inspirational skipper and enforcer Andrey Temnov.
Yury Kushnarev, who converted Kotov’s score, got the first points of the second half with a 52nd-minute penalty.
However, with their pack increasingly gaining the upper hand in the tight the Jaguars were able to turn the screw through the boot of replacement Joaquin Diaz Bonilla. The 24-year-old kicked two penalties to make it 23-10 to the South Americans.
Sergey Sugrobov’s try and the subsequent conversion from Kushnarov gave Russia hope with eight minutes remaining, but former skipper Rodrigo Bruno made the result safe for the Jaguars when he got on the end of a good inside pass for a try which Bonilla improved.
IRB Head of Competitions and High Performance Mark Egan, was in Bucharest for the final round of the Nations Cup, having also attended the Tbilisi Cup, a successful new addition to the international calendar.
He commented: “The two tournaments have seen much higher levels of competition than in the previous years and the experience gained by the Tier Two Unions will prove invaluable as the teams move closer to the Rugby World Cup 2015 qualifying rounds and indeed participation.”
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