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Rugby: Romania's late try sinks Canada

Canadian Press

11/19/2005 4:47:11 PM

BUCHAREST, Romania (CP) - A late try by Romania sealed a 22-20 win over Canada in international rugby action Saturday.

The Canadians led the entire match until Romanian flanker Alexandru Manta scored in the 79th minute behind his massive pack.

''We didn't do enough in the second half,'' Canadian coach Rick Suggitt said in a release. ''We should have played more rugby in their end and perhaps then there would have been a different outcome.''

''Romania stuck to their power game and gained momentum late in the game to win.''

Canada held a 20-8 lead early in the second half until Romania scored two pushover tries - one a penalty try - on the strength of its enormous pack to win the game.

Victoria's Mike Pyke, playing in his first game at fullback, kicked for two penalties and converted tries by Brodie Henderson of Chilliwack, B.C., and Morgan Williams of Cole Harbour, N.S.

He also kicked well out of hand, relieving pressure and moving Canada's forwards up-field often.

The referee disallowed a Canada try mid-way through the second-half.

Victoria's David Spicer, making his first start at outside half, blocked a Romanian clearing kick and when he and Ryan Smith followed the ball into the in-goal, Smith fell on the ball covering it with his body.

When referee Didier Mene arrived, he awarded a five-metre scrum to Canada instead of a try.

The match was staged in terrible conditions as slushy snow and rain overnight, which continued off and on all day, soaked the Ghencea ll Stadium pitch and required soldiers to use sponges and buckets to lap up the standing water.

''The conditions were horrible and they had a massive pack,'' said prop Kevin Tkachuk. ''With the slippery footing, once they got the hit and the weight came on with the drive, they were very hard to stop.''

''There were times in the game I was very proud of what we did. Unfortunately, we let them score a try from a scrum, something that is a sin for a front-row player.''

Despite the weather, about 1,000 fans turned up to witness Romania's first win over Canada in three meetings dating back to 1991. The Canadians won 19-11 in 1991 and 34-3 in 1995.

Canada is ranked 13th in the world and Romania is No. 18. 

Pyke struck from 30 metres out 11 minutes into the second half for a 20-8 Canadian lead.

The Romanians found their form at that point and began to drive more effectively. Mene awarded them a penalty try at 68 minutes with Canada's pack unable to contain their counterparts.

''That game was stolen from us today,'' Suggitt said. ''We needed to have official IRB referees in change of the game today and not a group of French referees invited in to do the match.''

Dan Vlad converted to cut Canada's lead to five points and after countless scrums, the lead was then erased by Manta.

Canada led 17-8 at the half. Aaron Carpenter of Brantford, Ont., was sent to the sin bin for 10 minutes at the 30-minute mark for a foul.

Ionut Dimofte, Romania's 20-year-old outside-half, scored a penalty at 26-minute mark.

Williams scored his ninth try in his 41st Test on good support from his side and Pyke's conversion made it 17-5.

Romania scored its first try when fullback Catalin Fercu went over after the Romanian pack won a scrum five metres from Canada's line. When Fercu came into the line to make the extra man, he scored but failed to convert.

Williams fed Spicer on the short side, who fed Smith en route to to the line, but Henderson roared up to take the ball and barge over to score. Pyke converted to make it 10-0.

Pyke kicked a 40-metre penalty to give Canada an early 3-0 lead.

Spicer, 20, impressed with deft kicks behind Romanian wingers or up-field to touch.

''We found out he has ice water flowing in his veins,'' Suggitt said. ''He was composed and he kicked well.''

The Canadian team heads home Sunday and will reconvene for the Churchill Cup in June.