England run Romania ragged
September 24, 2011
Try time for England's Mark Cueto in Dunedin
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England powered to a 10-try 67-3 victory over Romania in their Rugby World Cup clash at the Otago Stadium in Dunedin.
A hat-trick for wing Mark Cueto and fellow speedster Chris Ashton and further tries from scrum-half Ben Youngs, fullback Ben Foden, centre Manu Tuilagi and flanker Tom Croft propelled England to an impressive victory that sees them remain firmly on course for the quarter-finals and their place will be confirmed should Argentina fail to beat Scotland tomorrow. Fly-half Jonny Wilkinson landed three conversions and a penalty while his replacement Toby Flood converted a further four scores to cap a dominant display.
A plucky Romania got on the scoreboard thanks to a late first half penalty from No.10 Lucian Mihai Dumbrava but aside from that effort they had little answer to England's potent mix of power and pace.
England showed their intent early with a quick lineout and that early pressure drew the first penalty of the game that Wilkinson sent between the posts to open the scores with just two minutes on the clock.
The much-maligned England were here to play with some great hands from flanker Lewis Moody in midfield sparking another powerful drive. The England skipper popped up again a couple of phases later to surge deep inside the 22 but the Romanians muscled up at the breakdown to earn a penalty.
England continued to back themselves with ball in hand and peppered their rivals with an impressive mix of power and quick ball. On the rare occasion they had the ball, Romania were woefully short of multi-phase cohesion of their rivals.
Another sweeping move saw winger Ashton and fullback Foden combine well to make big gains and although that raid came to a premature end the Romanian resilience would be broken moments later. Ashton's pace once again proved the key with a burst of speed and a hand off taking him through the defensive line before he found Cueto outside for an easy score.
Wilkinson was wayward with the conversion but would soon have a chance to atone. England's urgency continued to cause problems with a quick tap from scrum-half Youngs inside the 22 stretching the Romanian defence. Youngs was hauled down just short but quick ball made its way to Cueto who cut through a gaping hole before coasting in for his second score that was converted by Wilkinson.
Cueto would have his hat-trick just five minutes later as the result of another fast-paced raid that saw Wilkinson and centre Mike Tindall shift the ball to flanker Croft who drew the last tackler before popping the ball to his in-form winger. Cueto still had some work to do but there was no danger of the Television Match Official disallowing the score in the corner.
The bonus point was in the bag just past the half hour mark with Ashton finally getting in amongst the tries. The rock-solid England lineout provided the platform but it was Wilkinson's vision and Ashton's electric pace on a trademark line that split the defence and carried the winger over the line.
Wilkinson rediscovered his kicking form with the conversion before the inside ball proved profitable once again. This time lock Louis Deacon raced through before finding hooker Steve Thompson who was quick to off load to Ashton who ran in unopposed for his second try. Wilkinson's conversion stretched England's lead but Romania would have the final say in the half with a penalty from Dumbrava.
England wasted no time in heaping woe on the Romanians from the re-start with Youngs crossing for his side's sixth try less than a minute from the kick off. The lively England No.9 opted to go shortside off a scrum and having ghosted through he found Tuilagi in support who sped up the touchline before popping the ball back inside to Youngs who claimed the score.
Flood, a replacement for Wilkinson, failed to add the extras but he had better luck with ball in hand when finding Tuilagi with a short pass in midfield that sent the rampaging centre away into space. Foden tracked his run and was rewarded for his vision with the easiest of tries that was converted by Flood.
Romania rallied, with replacement hooker Marius Tincu at the heart of their resurgence, and that renewed effort and England's indiscipline gave them a foothold in the 22. Successive penalties allowed them to hammer away at the line only for England to stand firm and eventually snuff out the danger.
The dangerous Tuilagi was the next to cross after Romania's scrum struggled to contain a refreshed England scrum. Another quick tap penalty from Youngs had Romania scrambling and there was no stopping an on-rushing Tuilagi who brushed off three tackles on his way to the line. The score took England through the 50-point barrier with Flood's conversion extending their advantage but you sensed there was more to come and there was.
England's ability to keep the ball alive served them well after Ashton had once again proved elusive with a strong run up the line. Good hands from lock Tom Palmer kept the move going with Croft the eventual beneficiary.
Flood was on target with the conversion before Palmer was again involved with a superb off load to Haskell who in turn found Ashton who raced away to the corner to claim his hat-trick. Flood slotted an excellent conversion to take England out to a 64-point and that would be as good as it got for them.
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Graham Jenkins is the Senior Editor of ESPNscrum and you can also follow him on Twitter.