Rugby World Cup
Preview: Canada vs. Romania -- The battle to avoid the Pool D wooden spoon
Michael Beattie
October 5, 2015
Canada and Romania playing for pride
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Teams: Romania

Following their rousing if fruitless displays against France and Italy, Canada will want to finish their Rugby World Cup campaign on a high. The fact that victory would all but guarantee they avoid the Pool D wooden spoon -- something a Canadian side has collected just once before at a World Cup -- should prove an extra motivating factor for Kieran Crowley's side. And when you consider that several players, including the evergreen Jamie Cudmore, will be playing their final games for their country, you start to worry for Romania. While technically not yet out of the World Cup, Lynn Howells' side need victory to have any realistic hope of not finishing fifth themselves, though, meaning there will still be plenty on the line in Leicester.

Team news

Canada will once again be without injured captain Tyler Ardron, one of six changes after failing shake off the knock he sustained against France. Cudmore captains the side in his final Test as he ties the Canadian World Cup appearance record with his 14th cap, while Aaron Carpenter moves out of the front row to replace the No. 8 in a new-look back-row alongside Jebb Sinclair and John Moonlight. Ray Barkwill replaces Carpenter as hooker while Gordon McRorie returns at scrum-half, with Harry Jones installed at fullback and Jeff Hassler starting on the wing.

Romania coach Howells has again rung the changes, making seven in all from the side that lost to Ireland at the Olympic Stadium. Prop Paulica Ion is included and will become the seventh Romanian to reach double figures of World Cup appearances. His front row colleague Mihaita Lazar and lock Valentin Poparlan are scheduled to notch up their 50th cap at the King Power Stadium, but injury has robbed Ovidiu Tonita of the chance to set a new Oaks World Cup caps record.

Canada: Harry Jones, Jeff Hassler, Ciaran Hearn, Nick Blevins, DTH Van Der Merwe, Nathan Hirayama, Gordon McRorie; Hubert Buydens, Ray Barkwill. Doug Wooldridge, Brett Beukeboom, Jamie Cudmore (captain), Jebb Sinclair, John Moonlight, Aaron Carpenter.

Replacements: Benoit Piffero, Djustice Sears-Duru, Jake Ilnicki, Kyle Gilmour, Nanyak Dala, Phil Mack, Conor Trainor, James Pritchard.

Romania: Catalin Fercu, Madalin Lemnaru, Paula Kinikinilau, Florin Vlaicu, Ionut Botezatu, Michael Wiringi, Florin Surugiu; Mihaita Lazar, Otar Turashvili, Paulica Ion, Valentin Poparlan, Johannes van Heerden, Valentin Ursache, Viorel Lucaci, Mihai Macovei (captain).

Replacements: Andrei Radoi, Andrei Ursache, Alexandru Tarus, Daniel Carpo, Stelian Burcea, Valentin Calafeteanu, Adrian Apostol, Csaba Gal.

Key head-to-head

DTH Van Der Merwe has tied the tier-two nation record of scoring tries in three consecutive Rugby World Cup matches, joining fellow Canuck Al Charron, Samoa's Brian Lima and Kele Leaware of Fiji. No tier-two player has scored in four successive appearances, so there will be even more focus in the Canucks' back line to work the ball toward the left wing. Catalin Fercu and Madalin Lemnaru will have to be on guard against Canada's key attacking threat.

Key stats

* Canada won the first two encounters with Romania, at the 1991 and 1995 World Cups, but have lost the last three -- all played in Bucharest. Florin Vlaicu kicked every Romanian point in both the 21-20 win in 2013 and the 18-9 victory in 2014.

* James Pritchard, Canada's record points-scorer with 607 points, will become the sixth Canadian to play in four World Cups should he come off the bench, having retired before the tournament only to be added to the squad as an injury replacement.

* Romania need a bonus point win to stay alive, at least mathematically, in the World Cup. The Oaks have claimed just one World Cup bonus point win before; in 2003, they scored five tries en route to a 37-7 victory against Namibia. Their last World Cup win was their 14-10 triumph against Portugal in 2007.

Odds

Despite defeats in their last three encounters with Romania, Unibet has Canada as 10/17 favourites with the Oaks available at 11/8. With some tight encounters in the past, the first draw of the World Cup is available at 21/1, while a cheeky drop goal from either side is there for 33/10 -- and 60/1 as the final play of the contest.

Weather

Leicester is bracing for scattered heavy showers on Tuesday, with some breaks in the weather expected around kick-off and temperature of around 17 degrees Celcius.

Prediction

Pride is on the line with both teams already out -- sorry Romania, it's over -- and with a little nostalgia in the air for those at the end of their international careers, expect an exhibition-style game played at high tempo, albeit in greasy conditions that could see the error count rack up swiftly. Canada could, and perhaps should, have beaten Italy and were no slouches against the French. They ought to have enough attacking nous to dissect the Romanians, so long as they don't fall victim to Vlaciu's death-by-a-thousand-penalties act. Canada by seven.

© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.

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