Rugby World Cup 2011 Play-Off
Romania book final World Cup berth
November 27, 2010
Romania celebrate victory over Uruguay
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Romania secured the final berth at the 2011 Rugby World Cup in New Zealand by beating Uruguay 39-12 at the Stadionul National Arcul de Triumf on Saturday.
After the first leg of the play-off ended 21-21 two weeks ago, Romania delighted a vociferous home crowd, in a ground bolstered by 2,000 additional seats, to book their place in Pool B alongside England, Scotland, Argentina and Georgia.
Centre Csaba Gal gave Romania the lead after fly-half Dan Dumbrava had missed an early shot at goal and the lead was soon increased as Irish official Alain Rolland awarded a penalty try.
Uruguay lost their second-row, Diego Magno, to the sin-bin on 22 minutes and Romania took advantage with a try to Alexandru Manta, the No.8 who was also on the scoresheet in Montevideo. Dumbrava converted for a 21-0 half-time lead.
The fly-half increased the lead with another penalty just after the restart but Uruguay pounced for their first score of the game as midfielder Martin Crosa crashed over. The visitors' celebrations were short-lived however as Romanian wing Catalin Fercu soon found space to score. Ivo Dugonjic scored a second for Los Teros but Romania pulled clear once again through a try to Madalin Lemnaru.
Uruguay did finally get themselves on the scoreboard with centre Martin Crosa's try, but there was to be no comeback to savour, Romania wing Catalin Fercu touching down for the home side's fourth try. Madalin Lemnaru landed the conversion and penalty to ensure a night to savour for Romania.
"The hardest job starts now," said Romania coach Romeo Gontineac following his side's triumph. "We will try to construct a very competitive team for the World Cup. This team that played today and the group we have, hopefully we will have 50 players until the summer to make a very good squad for the World Cup.
"I feel like I am flying now, it feels very good. It is a pleasure being a coach to see the team play exactly as you train them, to the game plan. I am glad and I congratulate the boys, they had a very good game. All of them, the 22 that we had today and the other guys in the 31 that stayed together, I congratulate all of them."
His captain Sorin Socol added, "We played like a real team, the forwards really dominated in scrums and lineouts and the backs scored every time they had the opportunity. That is a good thing and even if we had difficult moments sometimes, we know to restart and do it again. The crowd, they helped us so much because we had difficult moments in the first half and they really helped us through that, we felt them on the pitch with us."
Uruguay coach Gonzalo Camardon paid tribute to his defeated side and hopes his young charges will learn from the experience: "It was one step too far," he said. "It was not our moment. We have a young team that needs some more international competition and needs to keep on working like this and maybe the next one. I think Romania was a lot more experienced, they propose a good game based on their forces so it is a matter of keep on working and keep on having matches like this. That's where you test yourself.
Uruguay captain Carlos Arboleya could not hide his disappointment. "It is terrible, I feel awful, I am very sad now," said Los Teros' skipper. "Hopefully we can get to the next World Cup, we are going to work for that. Tonight they were the better side. They make points with the ball, they take advantage of our errors, they were better."
Romania have appeared at every Rugby World Cup but recorded just one victory - a 17-15 victory over Fiji in 1991 - but their qualification has been welcomed by Rugby New Zealand 2011 organiser Martin Snedden. "We are thrilled for Romania," he said. "It's been a long hard road for both teams, with their qualification journey having started in 2008, but sadly there can only be one winner. I am sure Romania will be a tough opponent being an experienced campaigner at this level."
The Oaks will travel to five centres in New Zealand, visiting Ashburton and Queenstown and playing matches in Invercargill, Dunedin and Palmerston North.
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