Romania captain Mihai Macovei’s two second-half tries led a remarkable comeback to seal a 17-15 win over Canada in an exciting World Cup Pool D match.
Macovei’s tries and seven points from Florin Vlaicu, who took his record total to 636, saw Romania come from 15-0 down to keep themselves in contention for an invaluable third place in the pool.
It sets up Sunday’s game with Italy as a winner-takes-all in terms of third place and qualifying automatically for the 2019 World Cup to be hosted by Japan.
It was Romania’s first win over the Canadians in three World Cup meetings and overshadowed the feat of DTH van der Merwe who made it a full house of tries against their pool opponents.
He joined an elite group including All Blacks legend Jonah Lomu to have scored in every group match at a World Cup.
Romania had been reduced to 14 men for part of the first-half when Catalin Fercu was sin-binned for taking out Nick Blevins in mid-air without making any discernible effort to go for the ball.
The irrepressible van der Merwe finished off an excellent play created by wing Jeff Hassler’s surge through the Romanian defence.
Scrum-half Gordon McRorie kept the move going with an incredible pick-up off his bootlaces. The ball was worked out to the left and van der Merwe went on his own from close out and touched down.
Canada came out straining at the leash in the second period and Hassler got a deserved try of his own in the 44th minute, Nathan Harayama making the initial inroad.
A neat offload was taken at full pace by the Canadian wing who broke through the Romanian defence from outside the 22 and easily shrugged off Fercu’s tackle to go over the line.
Harayama converted to put daylight between the two sides at 15-0.
However, from then on it was all Romania.
Their first try stemmed from their scrum rocking their opponents back on their heels and over the line. Macovei claimed the try and Vlaicu converted.
Canada might have held out but for a moment of silliness by Jebb Sinclair when eight minutes from time he became the third Canadian to be yellow-carded in the tournament.
A couple of minutes later Macovei peeled off a scrum and scored his second try.
Vlaicu converted for 15-14 and set up a nervous final five minutes which he rounded off with a superb long range penalty.