A shorthanded US Eagles picked up an important win on the road to start their tour as they outfoxed an imposing Romanian side in Bucharest on Saturday. With the forwards under serious pressure they took advantage of what little possession they had to score three good tries to Romania’s two. Mike Tolkin will have been very pleased with what he saw given his limited resources heading into the match.
It didn’t take long for Takudzwa Ngwenya to get back into the swing of things in test rugby. Florin Vlaicu rang a penalty goal off the left uprights and after a brief kicking exchange, the ball went wide to the Biarritz winger and he breezed past five defenders in a 60 metre sprint to the corner. Adam Siddall hit the sideline conversion and Romania looked frustrated with only 5 minutes showing on the clock.
Vlaicu found his range before before another clanger, this time from an even easier spot, let the Eagles off the hook again. Folau Niua sparked a break down the right flank and this time the ball spun left to Tim Stanfill to dot down for try number two. Siddall’s boot was bang on, with another penalty to come on the stroke of halftime to give the Eagles an unlikely 14 point lead.
Romania dominated much of the possession through their forwards but couldn’t break the line and with Vlaicu’s uncharacteristic accuracy problems the pressure wasn’t turning to points. The Oaks finally got something to cheer about after the break when field position yielded a 5 metre scrum and it was only ever going to end one way. Leighton Hodges awarded the penalty try and this time Vlaicu couldn’t miss, bringing his side to within one score.
Mike Petri kicked a cheeky snap drop goal to re-establish a two-score lead, and a miraculous heel against the head gave Ngwenya the chance to do a little more dancing inside the Romanian 22. The ball was recycled quickly and a couple nice passes and some average defense saw Niua dive over for the icing on the cake. Siddall nailed another brilliant conversion to mark a very impressive performance with the boot, and it was job done for the Eagles.
A close range effort for replacement Andrei Rădoi sweetened the score a little for Romania and it was probably deserved given the effort of the forwards, but the Oaks would be very disappointed with the result. Had Vlaicu’s radar not been damaged early the story could have been different, but credit should go to the Eagles for executing exactly what what was needed for the win. Every time they moved the ball wide they found space, and a try for each of the back three was just rewards for their clinical finishing.
It was a very good scalp for the Eagles, especially given the absence of their big name players. They didn’t panic when their scrum was on ice and defended well against a limited but forceful Romanian attack. It gives the side a nice boost as they pack up and head to Gloucester where they meet a tough-looking Tongan side on Saturday.
ROMANIA 17 vs 27 UNITED STATES
Saturday, November 8, 16:30 GMT, Bucharest
04 mins – T. Ngwenya try 0-5
05 mins – A. Siddall con 0-7
08 mins – F. Vlaicu pen 3-7
29 mins – T. Stanfill try 3-12
30 mins – A. Siddall con 3-14
40 mins – A. Siddall pen 3-17
47 mins – Penalty try (scrum) 8-17
48 mins – F. Vlaicu con 10-17
58 mins – M. Petri drop 10-20
66 mins – F. Niua try 10-25
67 mins – A. Siddall con 10-27
70 mins – A. Rădoi try 15-27
71 mins – F. Vlaicu con 17-27
C. Fercu; R. Neagu, C. Gál, F. Vlaicu, A. Apostol; D. Manole, V. Calafeteanu; M. Lazăr (A. Ursache 54), O. Turashvili (A. Rădoi 13-25, 63), P. Ion; M. Sirbe, A. Coste (V. Popârlan 56); M. Macovei (capt.), O. Toniţa (V. Nistor 49), D. Carpo.
F. Niua; T. Ngwenya, S. Kelly, A. Suniula, T. Stanfill; A. Siddall (S. Suniula 67), M. Petri; N. Wallace, P. Thiel (T. Coolican 52), O. Kilifi (M. Moeakiola HT); T. Tuisamoa (J. Cullen 52), L. Stanfill (G. Peterson 62); T. Clever (capt.), J. Quill, M. Trouville.
Referee: L. Hodges (WRU)
Assistants: I. Davies (WRU) & N. Hennessy (WRU)
TMO: M. Kilgore (IRFU)