Romania on the front foot going into RWC 2015
A masterclass of scrummaging enabled Romania to overcome a young and ambitious Jaguars side 23-0 in Bucharest to win the World Rugby Nations Cup title at the Arcul de Triumf Stadium in Bucharest.
This is the third time the Oaks have won the Nations Cup trophy in the competition's 10-year history and they did it in style, as they prepare to announce their 40-strong Rugby World Cup 2015 squad.
Outplayed in the set piece exchanges the Jaguars struggled for front-foot ball and seemed bereft of ideas as to how best to overcome the abrasive Romanian defence.
The Romanian front row of Mihaita Lazar, Otar Turashvili and Vlad Badalicescu, the latter in his second start in the yellow jersey, did most of the damage up front, well supported by the young second-row pair of Marius Antonescu and Marian Drenceanu, who boast between them only 12 international appearances.
Another aspiring prop, Alexander Gordas, came on in the second half to win his first international cap, and give Oaks head coach Lynn Howells a late, and perhaps timely, reminder of his worth.
Reserve scrum-half Florin Surugiu came on to celebrate his 50th cap with a cheeky blindside try as the hour mark approached following a strong Romanian scrummage near the Argentine line, while Mihaita Lazar was the other try-scorer going over at the back of an earlier drive from the Romanian pack.
Centre Florin Vlaicu kicked the rest of his side’s points on his 80th appearance for the Oaks.
Skipper Mihai Macovei continues to blossom at number 8 and has two able and willing lieutenants alongside him in the back row in flankers Viorel Lucaciu and young Vlad Nistor.
Finally, New Zealander Michael Wiringi, making his international debut at fly-half, showed some deft touches and may well give the Romanian backs the missing edge they have been looking for.
Overall, it was an encouraging performance from Romania in the build-up of the 2015 RWC.
Spain win in the rain
Spain signed off with a 20-3 win over Namibia in the opening match of the final round of the tournament.
The match was played in pouring rain and left a lot to be desired both in terms of quality and spectacle, but Spain managed to adapt better to the conditions and scored three tries in a 20-minute period during the first half.
Winger Ignacio Contardi capitalised on an overlap on the right to go over for the first try on 12 minutes, following an early attack on the left, which left the Namibian defence scattered.
The second try, some 15 minutes later, was scored by lock Anibal Bonan, following a rampaging run by influential skipper Jaime Nava which split the Namibian defence wide open, making the try a formality. Full-back Sergei Aubanell kicked the conversion.
Pierre Garcia then finished off a slick move involving virtually all of the Spanish back division for try number three on 30 minutes.
Worryingly, Namibia failed to conjure any moment of quality, without doubt the slippery ball playing its part, though their game went up a notch in the second half when veteran scrum-half Eugen Jantijes came on.
But it was too little too late as Spain added a penalty to their first half scores two minutes from time to make the final scoreline 20-3.
"I am pretty happy with the game. There were a lot of errors and mistakes, but the weather played its part. Despite the conditions we tried to run the ball and scored three good tries. I am very happy for the boys," said Spain coach Santiago Santos.
"These kind of matches happen, unfortunately", said Namibia captain PJ Van Lill. "The good thing about this is the fact that we can test players and evaluate our performance better."
Nations Cup - final standings
2. Argentina Jaguars
Nations Cup - results
Namibia 3-20 Spain
Romania 23-0 Argentina Jaguars
Romania 43-3 Namibia
Argentina Jaguars 15-6 Spain
Argentina Jaguars 30-10 Namibia
Romania 35-9 Spain
Photo credit: Razvan Pasarica