Uruguay and Romania battle to a draw
November 13, 2010
Uruguay's Matias Arocena and Romania's Catalin Fercu fight for the ball during the match in Montevideo
© Getty Images
Uruguay and Romania have set up a winner-takes-all battle for the last place at the 2011 Rugby World Cup having drawn 21-21 in the first leg of the decisive play-off final.
Romania powered to a 14-5 half-time lead in their clash at the Charrua Stadium in Montevideo but the hosts battled back to ensure the two sides will go into the second leg at the Stadionul National Arcul de Triumf in Romania on November 27 on level terms.
The winner on aggregate over the two legs will become the 20th and final qualifier for next year's showpiece event and will book a place in Pool B alongside Argentina, England, Scotland and Georgia.
Romania could have snatched the result at the death only for winger Catalin Fercu to knock-on after breaking clear, but defeat would have been harsh on the home side and the 10,000 fans that turned out to cheer them on.
Visiting fly-half Dan Dumbrava kicked his side into a 9-0 lead that did not entirely reflect the dominance of their pack or the superiority of their tactical game. Uruguay then struck for the first try after neat interplay between wingers Ignacio Mieres and Leandro Leivas, the duo trading passes before Mieres rounded off the score.
Romania responded quickly after fullback Florin Vlaicu had gained territory with a massive boot downfield and once their pack had ground away at the Uruguayan line, No.8 Alexandru Manta crashed over.
Los Teros pivot Matías Arocena closed the gap with two penalties after the break but Romania again forged ahead thanks to the raw power of their forwards. Prop Bogdan Balan surged over for the try along a short blindside.
Leivas struck back for Uruguay after good work from one of their tight-five, veteran prop Pablo Lemoine, and Arocena's conversion paved the way for his match-levelling penalty in the dying moments.
Uruguay skipper Carlos Arboleya was bullish at the final whistle, insisting that Romania will be in for a scrap on their home track.
"We will gain confidence from this game as we proved that they are not as strong as we were told they were," he said. "Now, it is all about the last game and we will be ready. We've been working very hard and that will give us the strength to travel to Bucharest. Most of the team have played at their stadium. We go in with even chances and it will be about 80 minutes. It will be about do or die."
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