Rugby World Cup 1999
Ireland comfortably see off Romania
October 15, 1999
Full-back Conor O'Shea runs in a try for Ireland
© Getty Images
Captain Dion O'Cuinneagain scored his first international try and fullback Conor O'Shea touched down twice to guide Ireland to a 44-14 victory over Romania at half-empty Lansdowne Road.
The win sealed second place for Ireland in Group E behind unbeaten Australia and earned them a quarter-final play-off in Lens, France, on Wednesday. The Irish will play either Samoa, Argentina or Canada depending on the result of Saturday's Japan-Argentina match.
Flanker Andy Ward and scrum-half Tom Tierney also scored tries for Ireland, while fly-half Eric Elwood kicked five conversions and two penalties for a personal tally of 16 points in a flawless night of goal-kicking. Replacement Brian O'Driscoll landed a late drop goal. Ireland lost prop Peter Clohessy (back) and wing Justin Bishop (hamstring) a couple of hours before kick-off but they were still strong enough to hold off a committed Romanian combination who were beaten but far from disgraced.
South African-born back-rower O'Cuinneagain, a late inclusion in a half-strength Ireland team, scored his side's first try after just six minutes - finishing off a superb 50-metre passing movement, but later left the field with a hamstring strain. Elwood converted to make it 7-0.
Elwood added a 13th-minute penalty and when Ward burst through some feeble defence two minutes later - Elwood converting - it was 17-0 and the Irish were in control. Romanian scrum-half Petre Mitu landed penalties in the 18th and 25th minutes before O'Shea grabbed the third Irish try in the 33rd minute after the ball had been recycled intelligently.
Elwood again converted and then landed an injury-time penalty to make it 27-6 at the break. O'Shea's second try came five minutes into the second half when he collected a fine pass from Elwood to go over - and the fly-half again converted. When Romania lost inspirational skipper Tudor Constantin to injury their hopes had all but evaporated.
Mitu landed a third penalty in the 57th minute when it might have been smarter to take a tap and the Irish immediately went up to the other end for Tierney to scamper over the line. Elwood converted. The job done, Ireland coach Warren Gatland was able to pull off O'Shea and Tierney with 20 minutes still remaining.
Elwood, too, left the field early with a cut head - a sad finish after such an influential performance. The Romanians got a consolation try with five minutes left when wing Cristian Sauan scampered over in the right corner after his teammates used quick hands after a five-metre scrum win. But Ireland had the last word with O'Driscoll's injury-time drop goal.