Scotland survive mighty scare
September 10, 2011
Joe Ansbro celebrates scoring Scotland's second try
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Scotland survived a mighty scare as they overcame Romania 34-24 in their opening match in Pool B at Rugby Park in Invercargill with two late tries from Simon Danielli.
Mike Blair and Joe Ansbro scored first-half tries but victory was only secure when Danielli touched down after 75 and 78 minutes, the second securing a bonus point. Chris Paterson kicked 14 points. Romania continually spoiled Scotland's attacking endeavour and their forward pack caused Andy Robinson's men no end of trouble.
Romania sensed an upset - and a first win over Scotland in 20 years - with prop Mihaita Lazar touching down after 40 minutes following a rolling maul which was just reward for his team's forward effort. And The Oaks went in front for the first time in the game after 68 minutes when number eight Daniel Carpo broke off a scrum to score. But Scotland finally wore down their opponents and Danielli ran over for two tries.
Scotland have reached at least the quarter-finals in each of their previous six tournament appearances - they are likely to need to improve to keep that record intact after a stuttering display. Wednesday's opposition Georgia - not to mention Pool B rivals Argentina and England - will be relishing taking on Scotland's pack, which was arguably at full strength at Rugby Park Stadium.
Captain Alastair Kellock led a forward eight which included hooker Ross Ford, who was winning his 50th cap. Blair and Ruaridh Jackson began at half-back, with the responsibility of releasing a back division which included Sean Lamont at centre and full-back Paterson, who became the first Scot to appear in four World Cups.
Scotland, who had the majority of the support at the World Cup's most southerly destination, started strongly. Lamont made a 50-metre break from the kick-off and Paterson punished a Romania offside with the opening penalty.
Scotland continued to run the ball and Danielli came in off his left wing before feeding Blair to go through and score after eight minutes. Paterson fluffed the conversion from in front of the posts as the ball toppled off the tee as he approached it.
Romania fly-half Marin Dumbrava missed a penalty from wide on the left before a successful attempt from the right after 11 minutes. Danielli spurned a golden opportunity before Ansbro cut through poor Romania defence after Max Evans' neat pass for a 21st-minute score which Paterson converted.
Dumbrava kicked his second penalty before missing another after Romania's pack had rumbled half the length of the field in just a few moves, causing concern for Scotland. Paterson added his second penalty to relieve the pressure, which grew in first-half stoppage time as Romania received the reward their forwards' performance deserved when a rolling maul was finished by Lazar. Dumbrava missed the conversion and Scotland were relieved to hold a seven-point half-time lead.
Paterson missed one attempt at goal in the blustery conditions before kicking another penalty early in the second period. The 10-point advantage was short-lived, though, as Tiberius Dimofte kicked a Romania penalty.
Romania full-back Iulian Dumitras missed a drop-goal attempt before they spread the ball wide, running Scotland ragged. Dimofte ensured Romania emerged with some points when slotting a penalty.
Romania won another penalty in front of the posts as Scotland desperately defended their try line. Dimofte reduced the deficit to four points - and soon after they were in front after further forward pressure. Romania drove on at a five-metre scrum and Dan Parks and Lamont were unable to halt number eight Carpo, the television match official ruling the score to count. Dimofte converted to make it 24-21 to the underdogs.
However, Scotland levelled the scores as a result of further Romanian indiscipline, Paterson kicking a penalty. And Andy Robinson's men went in front again as Evans switched the play and Richie Vernon broke down the left wing, finding Danielli to race over after 75 minutes. Danielli scored another three minutes later, touching down in the left corner despite a scrappy build-up to secure a bonus-point win - amid much relief.
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