Scotland stutter to victory

Mike Blair (File)
Mike Blair (File)

Invercargill - Scotland escaped suffering an embarrassing shock on the opening weekend of the Rugby World Cup to Romania but only thanks to two late Simon Danielli tries.

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The powerful wing struck twice in the final five minutes on Saturday giving Scotland a 34-24 victory, following early scores by Mike Blair and Joe Ansbro, not only to save Scotland from a disastrous defeat at Invercargill’s Rugby Park Stadium but secure a bonus point win.

Scotland coach Andy Robinson said: "The game is 80 minutes and that’s how long you have to play for.

"We had the right attitude in the first 15 minutes and could have taken control but the next 60 minutes were very disappointing and that is something we have got to sort out.

"We gave them six points from the re-start and conceded too many penalties to give Romania field position. From there we all saw how destructive they can be with the maul and scrum and they grew and grew."

It was a cruel end for Romania after The Oaks looked on course to secure an historic draw with the scores locked at 24-24 after 75 minutes.

Tries from Mihaita Lazar and Daniel Carpo either side of half-time even hinted at only a sixth World Cup victory for the eastern Europeans.

But after early tries by Mike Blair and Joe Ansbro, Max Evans twice broke free from defence to set up a brace of tries from distance for his fellow wing that clinched a bonus point victory for Scotland in Pool B.

Romania head coach Romeo Gontineac said: "I am very proud of the performance and very proud to be coach of Romania today. There was a part of me that was worried about Scotland but at half time we believed we could win and in the end we were eight minutes from history.

"This will give the players a lot of confidence for the rest of the pool. They have the potential but they must show it on the pitch."

There was little to suggest the drama to come when Scotland took less than two minutes to open their World Cup account through the boot of Paterson, setting a national record with his appearance at a fourth finals.

Ansbro ensured the Scots capitalised on an impressive start when he combined with Danielli, before scrum-half Blair stepped past the last defender to score his team’s first try of the campaign in style.

Paterson scuffed the conversion after the ball toppled from the kicking tee as he connected with his right boot before opposite number Marin Dumbrava, who missed with his first attempt, cut the lead to Romania opening points of the tournament after 12 minutes.

Scotland showed ambition and Ansbro capped a lively display with a well-taken try on 20 minutes, converted by Paterson.

Dumbrava struck a second penalty to keep Romania in touch, as his forwards seized the initiative, but the flyhalf failed to make the most of the possession with another miss.

Paterson looked to have steadied the ship with another penalty only for Aix-en-Provence prop Lazar to lift Romanian spirits, touching down from a driving lineout on the stroke of half-time.

That showed in their defence as Paterson and Dumbrava traded penalties, before Romania stepped up again up front to pin Scotland against the ropes.

Tiberius Dimofte kicked a penalty and added the conversion after No 8 Carpo drove off the back of a powerful scrum to hand Romania the lead in the 66th minute.

Paterson equalised moments later before Danielli’s late double denied the tournament an early shock.
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