IRB Nations Cup
The final day of the IRB Nations Cup in the Romanian capital Bucharest on Saturday concluded with the Emerging Springboks claiming the title with a 24-10 defeat of defending champions Argentina A.
However before this title decider, the other four participating teams took to the field, Georgia picking up their second victory with a 22-20 defeat of Italy A in the opening match.
Then it was Romania's turn to match that achievement with a 28-16 victory over Namibia. The results mean that both Italy A and Namibia end the tournament without a victory.
EMERGING SPRINGBOKS 24-10 ARGENTINA A
An awesome display of power, pace and skill saw the Emerging Springboks defeat Argentina A 24-10 to succeed them as IRB Nations Cup champions at the 'Arcul de Triumf' in the Romanian capital of Bucharest on Saturday.
Both sides had gone into the final with unbeaten records in the six nation tournament, the Emerging Springboks sitting atop the standings only by virtue of their better points differential, helped greatly by a 61-7 opening win over Romania.
The Emerging Springboks, coached by Pieter de Villiers and Jerome Paarwater, were relentless in their pursuit of their main objective, stamping their class on the proceedings as they outplayed the gallant Argentina A side in a match of great intensity and skill.
It was the South Africans' pace, speed of thought and explosive strength, both in attack and in defence, that made the difference between success and failure.
The heroes, in a team renowned for its spirit and togetherness, were Zimbabwean-born wing Tonderai Chavanga, who scored two tries, and the elegant conductor of the Emerging Springboks' back play, Peter Grant.
Fly half Grant kicked three penalties, one drop goal and the conversion to Chavanga's try in the victory, with his opposite number Santiago Fernandez kicking a penalty and converting second row Diego Stuart's try for Argentina A.
The IRB Nations Cup trophy was presented to the winning captain Schalk Brits by the chairman of the Romanian Olympic Committee Octavian Morariu, a former Romanian international player, assisted by the George Straton, president of the Romanian Federation, and the IRB Head of Rugby Services Mark Egan.
EMERGING SPRINGBOKS: 1. Heine van der Merwe 2. Schalk Brits (Captain) (16. Ashton Constant) 3. Eddie Andrews 4. Wilhellem Steenkamp 5. Ross Skeate (19. Nikolai Blignaut) 6. Kabamba Floors (24. Jonathan Mokuena) 7. Hilton Lobberts (23. Meyer Bosman) 8. Ernst Joubert 9. Heini Adams (20. Jano Vermaak) 10. Peter Grant 11. Odwa Ndungane 12. Bradley Barritt 13. Jaco Pretorius 14. Tonderai Chavanga (22. Marius Delport) 15. Bevin Fortuin.
Replacements not used: 17. Bandise Maku 18. Mxoli Songoni 21. Louis Ludik 25. Solly Tyibilika 26. Howard Noble.
Tries: Tonderai Chavanga (2)
Conversion: Peter Grant
Penalties: Peter Grant (3)
Drop goal: Peter Grant
Yellow card: Odwa Ndungane
ARGENTINA A: 1. Daniel Rodriguez (17. Francisco Lecot) 2. Javier Caratti 3. Pablo Cardinali 4. Diego Stuart (20. Jaime Arocena) 5. Pablo Bouza (19. Felipe Aranguren) 6. Santiago Sanz 7. Genaro Fessia 8. Miguel Achaval 9. Alfredo Lalanne 10. Santiago Fernandez 11. Gonzalo Camacho 12. Juan Ignacio Gauthier 13. Pablo Gomez Cora 14. Roman Miralles 15. Bernardo Stortoni (Captain).
Replacements not used: 16. Matias Cortese 18. Francisco Gomez Codela 21. Lucio Lopez Fleming 22. Santiago Bottini 23. Gabriel Ascarate 24. Federico Amelong 25. Francisco Merello.
Tries: Diego Stuart
Conversions: Santiago Fernandez
Penalties: Santiago Fernandez
Yellow card: Genaro Fessia
ITALY A 20-22 GEORGIA
Georgia produced the first upset on the final day of the IRB Nations Cup at the new national rugby stadium, the 'Arcul de Triumf' in Bucharest, by defeating Italy A 22-20 on Saturday.
Defying the scorching heat in the Romanian capital, the Italians started strongly and kept pounding the Georgian line, but haste and a certain lack of poise in the opposition 22 prevented them from turning their authority into scoring opportunities.
In an exciting match in which the lead changed hands five times, the well-organised Georgian defence, marshalled by scrum half and captain Irakli Abuseridze, forced Italy A to rely on the boot of Luciano Orquera to put points on the board.
The reliable Brive fly half landed four penalties to Georgia's solitary try - scored by their abrasive number 8 Giorgio Chkaidze - and subsequent conversion to give Italy A the 12-7 lead at the break.
After half time Georgia kept their composure and following a counter-attack veteran centre Malkhaz Urjukashvili went over for a well-taken try, converted by fly half Merab Kvirikashvili to enable his country to retake the lead.
Another Italian attack ended with Orquera landing a penalty as his side moved back into the driving seat. The stern Georgian challenge up front, though, created time and space for the East Europeans, forcing the Italians on their back foot for most of the second half.
A tentative kick ahead by Italy A was fielded by Georgia's right wing Giorgi Shkinin, who launched a blistering counter-attack in midfield. Replacement loosehead prop Davit Dadunashvili carried the move forward with a surprising turn of speed and agility before being brought down well into the Italian half.
Abuseridze, who arrived in hot pursuit, swept the ball wide to find Shkinin and the wing went over for a spectacular try. Italy A did bounce back with a try by their dynamic right wing Michele Sepe, although it was too little and too late to change the outcome as the conversion went wide.
A buoyant Georgian side, who had beaten Rugby World Cup opponents Namibia in their first match before losing bravely to the Emerging Springboks, deserved the victory that leaves Italy A without a win in the tournament, having also been beaten by Argentina A and Romania.
ITALY A: 1. Luigi Milani (17. Giovanni Boccalon) 2. Luigi Ferraro (16. Leonardo Ghiraldini) 3. Lorenzo Cittadini (18. Alberto De Marchi) 4. Enrico Pavanello 5. Mario Vella (20. Fabrizio Parisse) 6. Paul Derbyshire (19. Aldo Birchall) 7. Jaco Erasmus 8. David Dal Maso (Captain) 9. Pino Patelli (21. Nicola Leonardi) 10. Luciano Orquera 11. Ludovico Nitoglia (23. Michele Nitoglia) 12. Matteo Barbini 13. Alberto Sgarbi 14. Michele Sepe 15. Andrea Marcato.
Replacements not used: 22. Giovanni Manozzi 24. Walter Pozzebon 25. Marco Rosa 26. Aaron Persico.
Tries: Michele Sepe
Penalties: Luciano Orquera (5)
GEORGIA: 1. Mamuka Magrakvelidze (18. David Dadunashvili) 2. Irakli Chkonia (16. Iuri Natriashvili) 3. David Khinchagashvili (24. Georgi Jgenti) 4. Zurab Mchedlishvili 5. Viktor Didebulidze (19. Levan Datunashvili) 6. Rati Urushadze (23. Ilia Maisuradze) 7. Zviad Maisuradze 8. Giorgi Chkhaidze 9. Irakli Abuseridze (Captain) 10. Merab Kvirikashvili 11. Otar Eloshvili (26. Rezo Gigauri) 12. David Katcharava 13. Malkhaz Urjukashvili 14. Girogi Shkinin 15. Otar Barkalaia (21. Davit Gurgenidze).
Replacements not used: 17. Elizbar Kuparadze 20. Bidzina Samkharadze 22. Besiki Khamashuridze 25. Shalva Sutiashvili.
Tries: Giorgi Chkaidze, Malkhaz Urjukashvili, Giorgi Shkinin
Conversions: Merab Kvirikashvili (2)
Penalties: Merab Kvirikashvili
Yellow card: Giorgi Chkhaidze
ROMANIA 28-16 NAMIBIA
Host nation Romania struggled to overcome a brave and committed Namibia in the final day's second match, although they managed to finish on top thanks to an outstanding kicking display by their increasingly influential scrum half Valentin Calafeateanu, who scored all bar eight of their 28 points.
Romania started strongly at the 'Arcul de Triumf' in Bucharest, but from the outset they seemed rattled by the ferocity of the Namibian challenge in the loose and the solidity of their scrum, a very encouraging sign in their build up to Rugby World Cup 2007.
A solitary try midway through the first half by outside centre Gabriel Brezoianu, celebrating his 65th cap for Romania, gave the home supporters the faint hope that their team might be able to overcome the Georgian lead in the standings by acquiring a bonus point - which is awarded for scoring four tries.
This hope was short-lived though, as the Namibians, ably led by skipper Gideon Lensing, bounced back with flanker Tinus du Plessis carried over by the pack for a well-deserved try.
A conversion and two further penalties by their dynamic fly half Tertius Losper brought Namibia within a score, but Romanian captain Marius Tincu and his right-hand man Florin Corodeanu at number 8 rallied the troops to put the match beyond the reach of their opponents with two additional penalties by Calafeteanu and a drop goal from replacement fullback Florin Vlaicu.
Tincus and Corodeanu were two of Romania's five outstanding players in the tournament, the others being Calafeteanu, wing Catalin Fercu and fullback Iulian Dumitras.
The victory was Romania's second in the tournament, which had begun with a disappointing 61-7 loss to the Emerging Springboks. By contrast Namibia return home without a victory after also losing to Argentina A and Georgia in Bucharest.
ROMANIA: 1. Cezar Popescu 2. Marius Tincu (Captain) 3. Petrisor Toderasc 4. Valentin Ursache 5. Cristian Petre 6. Stelian Burcea 7. Alex Tudori 8. Florin Corodeanu 9. Valentin Calafeteanu 10. Ionut Dimofte 11. Catalin Nicolae 12. Csaba Gal 13. Gabriel Brezoianu 14. Catalin Fercu 15. Iulian Dumitras.
Replacements: 16. Razvan Mavrodin 17. Bogdan Balan 18. Paulica Ion 19. Augustin Petrichei 20. Daniel Carpo 21. Ciprian Caplescu 22. Ionut Tofan 23. Ioan Teodorescu 24. Florin Vlaicu 25. Valentin Poparlan 26. Dan Vlad.
Tries: Gabriel Brezoianu
Conversions: Valentin Calafeteanu
Penalties: Valentin Calafeteanu (5)
Drop goals: Valentin Calafeteanu, Florin Vlaicu
NAMIBIA: 1. Gideon Lensing (Captain) 2. Rudolf Bardenhorst 3. Marius Visser 4. Heino Senekal 5. Nico Esterhuizen 6. Tinus du Plessis 7. Jacques Nieuwenhuis 8. Jacques Burger 9. Pieter Rossouw 10. Tertius Losper 11. Melrick Africa 12. Corne Powell 13. Du Preez Grobler 14. Ryan Witbooi 15. Heini Bock.
Replacements: 16. Hugo Horn 17. Jane du Toit 18. Jonny Redelinghuys 19. Uakazuvaka Kazombiaze 20. Jan Hendrik Duvenhage 21. Eugene Jantjies 22. Lu-wayne Botes 23. Stefan du Rand 24. Herman Lindvelt 25. Jurgens van Lill.
Tries: Tinus du Plessis
Conversions: Tertius Losper
Penalties: Tertius Losper (3)
Final tournament standings:
1. Emerging Boks 3 3 0 0 109 24 1 13
2. Argentina A 3 2 1 0 84 57 1 9
3. Georgia 3 2 1 0 55 62 0 8
4. Romania 3 2 1 0 54 85 0 8
5. Italy A 3 0 3 0 48 68 2 2
6. Namibia 3 0 3 0 47 101 0 0