Romania triumph in basement battle
October 30, 2003
Ovidiu Tonita thanks the Romanian fans after their victory over Namibia
© Getty Images
Romania condemned Namibia to the 'worst team in the tournament' tag after a 37-7 win at Launceston. The victory was set up by a strong first-half effort, the Romanians crossing over four times to lead 32-0 after the first 40 minutes.
The scrumhalf found space after Namibia twice held the ball up in goal, with the task of holding out the third-straight five-metre scrum proving too difficult. The Romanians added two more in the last 10 minutes of the opening half, both by moving the ball across the field and stretching their overworked opponents.
The first-half statistics told the story, with Romania holding 73 percent of possession and the Africans forced to lay 97 tackles. But it was a more even contest after the restart, with Namibia able to protect the football and string together consecutive phases.
All that hard work came to fruition 15 minutes into the second half when the Welwitschias opened their account. From a line-out, they managed to put together five phases that ended with a powerful run from lock Eben Isaacs.
As the second half wore on, those in crowd of 15,457 born on even days were hoping to see Namibia hold the Eastern Europeans scoreless, but Cristian Sauan took advantage of some space out wide to run in for a five-pointer two minutes from time.
Romania's fourth-ever World Cup victory gives it a fourth-placed finish in Pool A, while Namibia ends a Rugby World Cup winless for the second time. In a footnote, Namibia's Rudy Van Vuuren managed to become the first player to have represented his country at both the cricket and rugby World Cups in the same year when he took the field in 71st minute. The 31-year old was in the 1999 rugby squad but didn't take the field and has been carrying a troublesome calf strain during this campaign.
The match concluded what has been a great week for the two competing teams and the city of Launceston. The players from both nations have been wonderful ambassadors for the sport, holding clinics and visiting local rugby clubs.
Moreover, the residents of this Australian football stronghold have embraced their opportunity to participate in such a global event, welcoming the players with warm and genuine affection and attending the match in great numbers.
Crowd: 15,457 at York Park Launceston.
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