England out to fell Oaks
September 22, 2011
Mike Tindall will hope to put a couple of hard weeks behind him against the Oaks © Getty Images
Mike Tindall will take the headlines after being named in England's side for the clash with Romania on Saturday in Dunedin with both player and country looking for a change in fortunes after a poor start to their World Cup campaign.
England will hope the presence of Tindall in the centres alongside the likes of Mark Cueto - who takes his World Cup bow - will be enough for Martin Johnson's side to record their third Pool stage victory. England flattered to deceive against Georgia last weekend despite running in six tries with a performance littered with ill-discipline. Johnson was bullish in his post-match dismantling of the team exclaiming that if they did not improve their conduct around the breakdown then they would be arriving back at Heathrow sooner rather than later.
With this in mind, England will be going all out to prove to coach and doubters alike that they are still a force to be reckoned with following a week where Wales and Ireland recorded important wins. Standing in their way is Romania; a team which England have played on four occasions and have racked up some impressive victories in the process - most notably their 134-0 dismantling of the Oaks back in November 2001.
With Romania impressing against Scotland - narrowly losing out to two late tries from Simon Danielli - and then falling away against the Pumas, they will hope to save some face with a commanding performance against Johnson's England. Though having amassed just 21 points in their previous four meetings with England compared to the red rose side's 268, history is firmly against them.
England - Player to Watch: It's hard to look past the return of Mike Tindall in England's midfield. The veteran centre will hope to put down a marker against the Oaks on Saturday in a bid to put to bed his off-the-field strife.
England - Team News: Johnson welcomes back Cueto on the wing in place of Delon Armitage while Shontayne Hape makes way for the returning Tindall. Jonny Wilkinson is back at fly-half in place of Toby Flood while James Haskell starts in the back-row at No.8 alongside Lewis Moody and Tom Croft. Tom Palmer and Louis Deacon start in the second-row with Alex Corbisiero, Steve Thompson and Dan Cole forming the front-row. Bath duo Lee Mears and David Wilson will hope to make an impact from the bench.
Romania - Player to Watch: Ionel Cazan crashed over for the Oaks in their previous run out against the Pumas and he will hope to keep his try scoring form going against England.
Romania - Team News: The most notable absentee for Romania is skipper Marius Tincu with the hooker having to be content with a spot on the bench for the Pool B clash. Bogdan Suman steps into the void in one of 11 changes in personnel. Cristian Petre serves as captain and he starts alongside fellow survivor Cazan who switches to midfield, where he will line up alongside Iulian Dumitras. Ovidiu Tonita moves from openside flanker to No.8. and he will have Sandu Burcea and Cosmin Ratiu for company in the back-row. Elsewhere Petre has been paired with Valentin Poparlan in the second-row, while Nicolae Nere and Silviu Florea will start either side of surprise inclusion Suman. As for the remaining back positions, Marin Dumbrava has been recalled at No.10, with Lucian Sirbu joining him in the half-backs. Florin Vlaicu, Stefan Ciuntu and Adrian Apostol are the chosen back-three.
Key Battle: Bogdan Suman will be going all out to prove to the Romanian selectors that there are two hookers in the squad rather than just the dominant Marius Tincu. And with Steve Thompson facing up against Suman, expect a physical and attritional battle in the front-row.
Stats: Romania have scored a try in each of their last 13 Test matches.
Trivia: England made 20 offloads against Georgia last weekend - more than any other side thus far in the 2011 World Cup.
"We have put it to bed. We are looking forward to a big game, we are playing Romania"
"We want these players to prove that they are good enough to play even against England, which is one of the best teams in the world. To achieve what we did in the first game, consistency, and to prepare for a very good game against Georgia, which will be four days after this game."
Prediction: England will be out to impress against Romania and with the likes of Tindall and Wilkinson in the side expect them to produce a clinical and resounding victory over the Oaks.
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
"This team deserves to be recognised as the greatest of all time." Huw Richards looks at Gareth Edwards' final match for Wales
The two leading contenders for the best modern open-side flanker go head to head in Paris on Saturday. John Taylor assesses the tale of the tape
Move over, Castro - from falling off a chair to stepping off the team bus, Scrum Sevens recounts some of the strangest rugby injuries ever
Martin Gillingham on the latest from France and why the national side can learn a thing or two from Top 14 side Bordeaux Begles