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Dublin: 9°C Tuesday 18 May 2021


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We went minute-by-minute as Martin Johnson’s England made it three wins from three with a win over Romania in Dunedin.

Get in touch with your thoughts and comments on the morning’s action.

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If you don’t fancy doing any of those, you can just leave a comment below. It’s all the same to me.

FT: England 67-3 Romania

Wakey wakey. I don’t care if it’s Saturday, there’s rugby to be watched. I mean, it’s England v Romania — how could you not be pumped for this?

The teams are just running through their final prep in Dunedin, so I’m going to make the first of many cups of coffee and get the teams. Does that sound like a plan? I think it does.

England: Foden; Ashton, Tuilagi, Tindall, Cueto; Wilkinson, Youngs; Corbisero, Thompson, Cole; Deacon, Palmer; Croft, Moody, Haskell.

Romania: Vlaicu; Ciuntu, Cazan, Dumitras, Apostol; Dumbrava, Sirbu; Nere, Suman, Florea; Poparlan, Petre; Burcea, Ratiu, Tonita.

I’ll be perfectly honest with you, I’ve managed to avoid both of Romania’s games so far, so I’ve really no idea what to expect. The bookmakers say 55 points; who am I to disagree?

A quick glance at the English team suggests that Johno has named the strongest team available to him with maybe one or two exceptions. Before a ball is kicked, I fear this could be rather one-sided.

The England fans — complete with royal family masks and George’s crosses painted on their faces — belt out ‘God Save The Queen’. We’re just about ready to get things started.

As a quick aside before we start, is my watch a little bit fast or have all of the games so far started a couple of minutes late? Two or three minutes after the stated time seems to be standard practice at this World Cup.

Everybody’s favourite referee, Roman Poite, is our man in the middle. Jonny Wilkinson gets the action underway.

PENALTY! (Wilkinson, 2′) An early penalty for England and Wilkinson points straight to the posts. He needs to give it a bit of a welly, but it’s straight in front of the posts and doesn’t deviate. England 3-0 Romania

England surge forward in search of a try and probably would have gotten it had Lewis Moody been quicker to off-load in the tackle. Instead, England are penalised for holding the ball on the ground, but that probably won’t be their only chance in this game.

Another England attack breaks down with a penalty turnover, this time for not rolling away. Have England’s disciplinary problems shifted from defense to attack?

England win a penalty on the half-way mark but Wilkinson is a little bit over-ambitious as he kicks to touch and his effort falls just short into the hands of the Romanian full-back Vlaicu. His response is as good as any you will see in this tournament, taking Romania back inside English territory.

Unsurprisingly, all of the attacking impetus is coming from the men in white, but they are struggling to click ever so slightly. A lineout six or seven metres from the Romanian line is wasted because Tom Croft finds himself ahead of the catcher as the maul develops.

TRY! (Cueto, 15′) There we go. England finally make a dent in the Romanian defence, courtesy of Chris Ashton who cuts back inside his tackler and fends him off with a strong arm. From that point on, the try looks inevitable and Ashton finds Cueto out wide who scores in the corner.

The angle for Wilko’s conversion is difficult anyway, but his contact isn’t great and the score remains England 8-0 Romania.

Judging by my Twitter timeline, myself and former England international Will Carling are the only two people over on this side of the world who are awake. Where are you, hardcore English rugby supporters?

TRY! (Cueto, 20′) A quick tap penalty by Ben Youngs has Romania on the back foot deep inside their own 22. Once the ball is worked out through the backs, Mark Cueto’s second try of the morning is a mere formality — although he was nearly shunted over the dead-ball line by Dumitras before he managed to touch it down.

Wilkinson tacks on another two from underneath the posts. England 15-0 Romania

Roman Poite goes upstairs to the TMO, but I think Mark Cueto has just scored a hat-trick…

TRY! (Cueto, 26′) The winger won’t score a 10-minute hat-trick every time he steps onto the rugby pitch, that’s for sure, so I’d imagine he’s quite enjoying himself at the moment. Again, England counter-attack with lightning speed from a turnover, their back-row forwards linking nicely before Cueto goes over in the corner again. No problem with the grounding, no foot in touch — Mr Poite, you may award the try.

Wilko goes for take two from the same position as his first missed conversion… and misses again. Hmmm. England 20-0 Romania

TRY! (Ashton, 31′) The floodgates are well and truly open now as England run in their fourth try to sew up the bonus point. This one is straight off the training ground, a beautifully executed set piece which sees Ashton take a beautiful line off the back of a line-out and touch down under the posts. No swallow dive this time, but Wilkinson converts from in front of the posts. England 27-0 Romania

TRY! (Ashton, 34′) Ah, there’s the swallow dive now. Ben Youngs breaks the line in the midfield, Ashton is on his own out on the wing and… well, you know the rest.

For the first time tonight, Wilkinson catches his conversion properly. England 34-0 Romania

PENALTY! (Dumbrava, 37′) England are penalised from the restart and out-half Dumbrava makes no mistake to put Romania on the board. England 34-3 Romania

MISSED PENALTY! (Dumitras, 40′) The centre takes over kicking duties for this long-range effort, and he absolutely wallops it. It looks good to me, but the touch judges’ flags stay by their side. England 34-3 Romania

England hooker Steve Thompson is a little bit fortunate there. He’s penalised for offside about three yards from his own try line and, under normal circumstances, one might expect to see a yellow card there. It’s just a penalty for Romania though.

MISSED PENALTY! (Dumbrava, 40+2′) The out-half’s penalty cannons back off the upright and Tom Croft hacks clear to end the first half.

HALF TIME: England 34-3 Romania

Back in a few. If you’ve any thoughts on that first half, I’d love to hear them. Details of how to get in touch are up at the top of the page.

We’re back underway for the second half.

There’s a genuine contender for sign of the tournament in the Otago Stadium stands: “Kids, just gone out for some milk. Be back 24 October. Love, Mum and Dad”.


TRY! (Youngs, 41′) As I was typing up that little digression, Ben Youngs decided to run in for his first try of the morning. Twenty-one seconds, that’s how long it took by my count. Ridiculous.

Toby Flood has come on to replace Jonny Wilkinson. His first act is to miss the conversion. England 39-3 Romania

MISSED PENALTY! (Dumbrava, 45′) England are penalised for hands in the ruck, but Dumbrava’s kick drops just short of the posts. That’s a pity as Romania have had a couple of chances to build up their side of the scoreboard. England 39-3 Romania

TRY! (Foden, 48′) Ben, how nice of you to join us. Manu Tuilagi breaks the line and rather unselfishly pops it to his full-back who switches on the afterburners and cruises clear. There’s a pun to be made there about scoring and Saturdays, but it’s too early in the morning for me to work out what it is.

Flood converts. England 46-3 Romania

Romania hammer away at the English line. About 18 inches short I reckon, but the English line is holding firm…

The Dunedin crowd roar on the minnows, but as the forwards recycle the ball through the phases with little or no gain, they eventually make a mistake and replacement scrum-half Calafeteanu loses the ball in the tackle. So close.

TRY! (Tuilagi, 61′) Romania are caught napping again as a quick tap penalty by Youngs finds them in sixes and sevens. He spreads it to Manu Tuilagi who barrels past a couple of tackles before touching down underneath the posts. Flood kicks the conversion. England 53-3 Romania

That’ll be Youngs’s final action of the game as well. He goes off to be replaced by Richard Wigglesworth for the final 20 minutes.

MISSED PENALTY! (Dumbrava, 65′) Another opportunity for the Romanian out-half to add three points from his boot, another chance missed. England 53-3 Romania

It only looks like a matter of time before England top that 55-point spread. One more converted try should do the trick, and I’m not sure Romania can keep them at bay for 13 or 14 minutes.

TRY! (Croft, 68′) Again, the speed with which England are moving the ball causes all kinds of problems for Romania. They fire it across the field to where Tom Croft is hugging the touchline and the flanker crosses to score. Flood converts. England 60-3 Romania

TRY! (Ashton, 70′) Try number 10 for England, Ashton joins Cueto in the hat-trick club. He’s one-on-one in a foot race with the Romanian defender, and let’s be fair, there’s only ever going to be one winner of that contest. Toby Flood nails another difficult conversion — his kicking has been excellent in this second half; I think he’s only missed the one so far. England 67-3 Romania

Dear England, that’ll do. No more tries please. Yours in rugby, Niall.

Ashton looks like he’s in for another try, but play is correctly brought back for a forward pass in the build-up.

The 80 minutes are up, but England have a penalty inside the Romanian 22. Do they really want an 11th try?

FULL TIME: England 67-3 Romania

No is the answer to that question as England sportingly knock the ball into touch and Roman Poite blows the final whistle.

There’ll be no complaints from England there. An excellent and professional performance throughout. Yes, they were only playing a weakened Romanian side, but they still managed to run in 10 tries and played some beautiful attacking rugby.

That’s our lot from Dunedin, but we’ll be cracking open another of our finest liveblogs very shortly as the All Blacks and France both try to lose their way into the easier half of the knockout stages. *shakes head*

See you in a few.

About the author:

Niall Kelly