INVERCARGILL, 10 Sept. – Scotland may have won their Pool B opener against Romania 34-24, but the down-to-the-wire victory at Rugby Park Stadium on Saturday also had them running scared.
“We were a bit shell-shocked to find ourselves in that position,” said wing Simon Danielli, whose two late tries spared Scotland’s blushes after his team fell 24-21 behind with just 13 minutes remaining.
“I was thinking, ‘We can’t lose this game, we’re not going to lose this game’.”
Determined to attack with the ball in hand, Scotland took an early lead and were 18-11 ahead at half-time before a spirited fightback by the Romanians after the break.
Veteran Scotland kicker Chris Paterson was also disappointed with how the match developed.
“The final result should have been better,” he said. “It didn’t really help that the wind was blowing against the team.”
The blustery conditions were a problem for the place kickers. Paterson, who held a perfect kicking record at Rugby World Cup 2007, failed to get the ball off the ground in one conversion attempt during the first half and missed another three kicks at goal.
Romania fly half Marin Dumat Dumbrava and centre Tiberius Ionut Dimofte, who took over his kicking duties, missed four attempts between them.
Although The Oaks came up just short, captain and man of the match Marius Tincu was proud of the way his team battled against their higher-ranked opponents.
“I think we had some really good scrums and defended very well,” he said.
“Everybody is happy with this match. Before, nobody really believed we could do it.”
Romania’s 24 points are the most scored against Scotland at a RWC by a team from outside the Six Nations and Tri Nations.
Scotland head coach Andy Robinson suggested he would not tolerate a similar performance in their upcoming matches.
“We saw in the last 10 minutes how the (Scottish) team can perform and how they should perform,” said Robinson.
Romania, however, are happy to have been the team to deliver a wake-up call to the Scots.
“The team you saw today is not the same one that lost (42-0) to Scotland in 2007,” said captain Tincu.
“That team played with their hearts in their boots. Today we actually had fun playing.”