UVic Vikes  Nathan Hirayama converting one of Canada's tries.  Photo by Colin Watson
UVic Vikes Nathan Hirayama converting one of Canada’s tries.
Photo by Colin Watson

A 78th minute penalty by Florin Vlaicu gave Romania a 17-15 victory over Canada in their final 2015 Rugby World Cup match tonight in Leicester. Canada had built a 15-0 lead thanks to tries from DTH van der Merwe and Jeff Hassler but Romania scored 10 points in the final five minutes to pull off the victory.

“It’s truly disappointing every time we lose,” Canada captain Jamie Cudmore said. “I’d personally like to apologize to everyone. It just wasn’t good enough.”

With eight minutes left, a Romania try was upheld but referee Wayne Barnes came back for an earlier infraction that saw him send Jebb Sinclair to the sin bin. Romanian captain Mihai Macovei would touch down two minutes later for his second try of the game after scoring earlier in the 53rd minute. Centre Florin Vlaicu, Romania’s all-time points leader, would then step up in the 78th minute to slot home the game-winner. It’s the fourth straight time Romania has beaten Canada.

“We played all right in first half but didn’t get enough points,” Canada head coach Kieran Crowley said. “In the second half, their scrum and drive got going and we were pretty naive in our decision making which is pretty disappointing.”

With an 8-0 lead at half time, Canada got off to a flying start in the second half as Jeff Hassler, who had missed the last two games due to injury, scored his fourth test try after bulldozing through the Romanian line. He was named man of the match.

“We were very close,” Hassler said. “We’re losing in the last few minutes, we will learn and we’ve shown the world we can compete with the top nations.”

After Macovei’s first try, Canada had a chance to get three points back but Nathan Hirayama’s penalty missed. In total, Canada left 11 points on the board through missed kicks.

“We have to stop learning,” Crowley said. “We can’t keep learning all the time. We had that game there and we lost it.”

McRorie thought he had his first career test try less than five minutes in to the game as he snuck down the sideline after picking up the ball from the ruck but Barnes called it back for an infraction on Nick Blevins at the breakdown.

McRorie was at it again five minutes later but his penalty missed left but it took just two minutes more for him to give Canada an early 3-0 lead, a deserved reward for a dominant opening 15 minutes by Canada.

Romania had a chance to tie the game but Vlaicu’s effort from the halfway line came up short and two minutes later Catalin Fercu was sent to the sin bin for taking Blevins out in the air. Canada couldn’t generate much with the man advantage however — McRorie missing a second penalty the best they could muster.

Canada’s attacking prowess was awarded in the 34th minute when van der Merwe went over for his fourth try in four World Cup games after Canada used the overlap out wide giving the Scarlets man his 20th test try while becoming the first man playing for a Tier 2 nation to score four tries in four successive Rugby World Cup matches. He also becomes only the second player to score in all four pool games at a World Cup — Shane Williams of Wales in 2007 is the other.

Canada concludes it’s Rugby World Cup campaign by going 0-4, only the second time they’ve never won a game at the tournament. Despite the results, Canada demonstrated they can compete with the best nations in the world as in matches against three Tier 1 nations, Canada came very close to beating Italy and kept Ireland and France in check for large portions of the game.

“We’re progressing,” Cudmore said. “We’ve shown we can play with the big boys. We need more games like that as that’s the only way we can progress. We played attractive rugby. We just need more games against top competition.”

Jake Ilnicki made his Rugby World Cup debut as a replacement Tuesday while James Pritchard replaced Harry Jones to take part in his fourth Rugby World Cup.

“There’s always something to build on,” Crowley said. “The bottom line is we didn’t win today and we should have.”

(Rugby Canada Press Release)

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