Scotland stutter to unconvincing win
Two Simon Danielli tries in the last five minutes saved Scotland from one of the all-time World Cup shocks on Saturday as they came back to beat Romania 34-24 in the opening Pool B game of the World Cup having trailed with six minutes to go.
Romania, beaten 42-0 by Scotland at the same stage four years ago, had produced a huge effort, particularly in their forwards, and when Dan Carpo scored their second try after 74 minutes they were within reach of their greatest day.
However, Scotland, who had started well, finally rediscovered their verve and Danielli, who had not scored an international try for two years, finished powerfully to secure the win and a bonus point for four tries.
It was hardly the start Scotland expected against the team considered the weakest in the pool and they will have to improve markedly if they are to maintain their proud record of reaching at least the quarterfinals in every tournament.
England and Argentina meet in the second Pool B game in Dunedin later on Saturday (0830 GMT).
There was no hint of the problems ahead for the Scots when they began Saturday's game at a windy Rugby Park full of adventurous running.
Scrumhalf Mike Blair and centre Joe Ansbro finished off well-made moves for tries and fullback Chris Paterson, in his 106th international, added more points with his boot.
However, Romania's forwards gradually took charge and after two penalties for Danut Dumbrava, prop Mihaita Lazar drove over for a try to keep his side in the game at only 18-11 down at the break.
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Two penalties by replacement Ionut Dimofte kept them in touch before a huge scrum opened the way for No 8 Carpo to burrow over the line.
Dimofte's conversion took them three points clear before Paterson levelled with a penalty.
Scotland finally secured some ball and got it to their backs and Danielli, who had managed only one international try in the last seven years, twice provided the finishing touches.
"The game is 80 minutes and that's how long you have to play for," said Scotland coach Andy Robinson, assistant to Clive Woodward when England won the World Cup in 2003.
"We had the right attitude in the first 15 minutes and could 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.
"We knew what to expect but credit to Romania for the way they played and their ability to keep their shape. But we were fantastic in the last 10 minutes and we have to give the Scotland players real credit for the way they were able to put that together."
Romania 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 halftime 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. We believe in the strength of our forwards who can compete with any team."
Scotland - Tries: Mike Blair, Joe Ansbro, Simon Danielli (2). Conversion: Chris Paterson. Penalties: Paterson (4).
Romania - Try: Miahita Lazar, Daniel Carpo. Conversion: Ionut Dimofte. Penalties: Dan Dumbrava (2), Dimofte (2).