Wales unconvincing against Romania
November 1, 2002

Wales launched their autumn international campaign with an unconvincing 40-3 victory over Romania at the Racecourse Ground in Wrexham.

Outside-half Neil Jenkins marked his return to the starting line-up with a 20-point haul to take his world points record to an incredible 1,049 in 87 appearances.

Number eight Scott Quinnell and wings Mark Jones and Gareth Thomas grabbed second half tries against a Romanian side who proved far more difficult opposition than on their two previous visits to Wales when they conceded 151 points.

But it was a less than impressive display by Wales on one of their rare visits to the soccer heartland of the north and they will need a vast improvement if they are to stand any chance against New Zealand next month after meetings with Fiji and Canada.

Wales ended the ended first half being booed by the crowd they aimed to woo as they spurned an attacking option to hand Jenkins a penalty.

Coach Steve Hansen had gone for a new look with 10 changes to the side who lost the second Test against South Africa last June, handing new caps to the Pontypridd duo of centre Sonny Parker and prop Gethin Jenkins.

Parker became the sixth New Zealand-born player to pull on a Welsh jersey and it was his sizzling 20 metre break five minutes after half-time that finally set up Wales' first try.

The 25-year-old was denied his maiden score but former skipper Quinnell was in support to barge his way over from close range for his 11th try for his country.

Wales' second try was even better as Gareth Thomas moved off the right wing into the centre to devastating effect as he burst through the Romanian midfield.

The Bridgend flier than handed on to Llanelli wing Mark Jones who sprinted down the left touchline to grab his second try in four appearances.

Thomas claimed his 27th try for Wales by forcing his way over just a few minutes from the end before Wales were handed a penalty try in injury time as they finished strongly against a tiring Romanian outfit.

But it was the ever-reliable boot of Jenkins which gave the scoreline a far healthier glow on his return to the starting line-up for the first time in 18 months, having recovered from a career-threatening knee injury.

The 31-year-old, who wants to go to next year's World Cup, needed just nine minutes to mark his return by adding to his record of 1,029 points, which does not include the 42 he kicked while on British Lions duty.

Jenkins had proved the difference between the sides, especially in the first half as he landed four of his five penalty kicks, with the 31-year-old's only failure coming from close to the touchline.

Opposite number Inout Tofan had none of Jenkins' accuracy as he missed three kickable attempts as Romania proved far more difficult opposition than on their last visit 12 months ago.

The Welsh had won that game 81-9 but Romania - who were also beaten 70-21 in Wrexham five years ago - fielded just four of the players from that hammering at the Millennium Stadium encounter in Cardiff.

Romania, with 13 players now based in France, showed that their recent display against Ireland when they were only beaten 39-8 was no fluke and, but for Tofan's missed kicks, could have been in contention for longer.


Wales: R. Williams, M. Jones, Shanklin, Parker, G. Thomas, N. Jenkins, Peel, G. Jenkins, M. Davies, Madden, Sidoli, S. Williams, Owen, Charvis, S. Quinnell.

Not Used: Evans, Llewellyn, G. Thomas, Powell, S. Jones, C. Morgan, A. Lewis.

Tries: S. Quinnell, M. Jones, G. Thomas, Penalty.

Cons: N. Jenkins 4.

Pens: N. Jenkins 4.

Romania: Dumbrava, Ghioc, Brezoianu, Gontineac, Picoiu, Tofan, Mitu, Toderasc, Mavrodin, Florea, Socol, Petre, Corodeanu, Tonita, Petrache.

Not Used: Dima, M. Constantin, G. Chiriac, Podea, Lungu, Coltuneac.

Pens: Tofan.

Att: 9,448

Ref: Joel Jutge (France).

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