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The United States scored a 27-17 win over Romania in Bucharest Saturday. Though the Oaks dominated in the set pieces and were tough up front, the Eagles were better out wide, evidenced by their tries all coming from the back three. The Americans also enjoyed a great kicking day. Flyhalf Adam Siddall slotted three touch line conversions and a penalty in the win, and scrumhalf Mike Petri added a drop goal.
Romania got on the board first with a very early penalty. The lead didn’t last long, though, as Zee Ngwenya would scorch down the touch line for a long-range try in his first game back after over a year away from the Eagles. Siddall converted, and the USA took at 7-3 lead.
Tim Stanfill got in on the action in the 30th minute, catching an offload from Todd Clever for a short-range try in the opposite corner. Stanfill recognized an overload and demanded the ball. Clever charged ahead, committed the final defender and dished to the Central Washington product for the score. Siddall again converted from the touch line, pushing the lead to 14-3. A penalty right on halftime made it 17-3 at the break.
Romania’s scrum was superior all day, and it came to roost around the 48th minute, as the Oaks were awarded a penalty try after the Eagles infringed on a five-meter scrum that Romania was marching toward the try line. Converted, it pulled the hosts to within seven at 17-10. Not long after, indiscipline led to another opportunity for the Oaks, but a shot at goal was missed.
Nearing the 60-minute-mark, with advantage on after Romania was called for being offside in its own end, Mike Petri pulled the ball from a ruck and stroked a cheeky drop goal between the sticks, making it 20-10.
When the Eagles went wide, it worked, and with a third of the game gone it resulted in a Folau Niua try. Ngwenya stepped and probed on one end of the field, and Niua found a hole that didn’t seem to be there on the other end, scoring over and around several Oaks in the corner. Siddall nailed his third touch line conversion, pushing the lead to 27-10.
Romania would respond almost immediately, taking a territorial advantage right after the kickoff. A series of tight phases led to the Romanian forwards pushing a back pedaling Seamus Kelly across the try line for a score. Converted, it pulled the Oaks within 10 with a little more than 10 minutes to play.
Romania kept up the pressure for the remainder, threatening a few more times. However, the Eagle defense was resilient, stopping the Oaks just short of pay dirt. Fresh legs throughout the field helped, as head coach Mike Tolkin made several changes in the final half. In the 82nd minute, the American forwards turned the ball over with their heels on the try line, and Petri cleared it to touch to end the game.
Tries: Stanfill, Ngwenya, Niua
Cons: Siddall (3)
Drop Goals: Petri