Rugby Union: Logan leads Scots' revival

Scotland 60 Romania 19 Tries: Logan 2, Tait, Grimes, Smith Try: Mitu McLaren, M Leslie, penalty Cons: Logan 5, Hodge 2 Con: Mitu Pens: Logan 2 Pens: Mitu 4 Half-time: 27-6 Attendance: 6,802
Click to follow
ROMANIA ARE the great dispossessed of European rugby. If moves had been made to expand the Five Nations' Championship a decade ago, or back in the 1970s when they had a seriously good side, the Romnians would have been included in the enlarged competition instead of Italy. As recently as 1991 they were competent enough to beat France and Scotland. But since those heady days Romania have fallen on hard times. They competed gamely against a not entirely convincing Scotland, who eventually ran out easy winners, scoring eight tries to one, with Kenny Logan touching down twice, helping him to a personal tally of 26 points.

For Scotland, returning to Hampden Park to play an international for the first time since they beat South Africa there in 1906, this should have been a stroll. Eventually it became one, though the experiment of staging the match at the spiritual home of Scottish football was far from a success. While the Scottish Rugby Union were applauded by some for their insight, Scotland's supporters thought otherwise, and the paltry attendance of 6,802 reflected their disapproval.

With the World Cup clock ticking down, the Scots got their wake-up call at Murrayfield last weekend when they succumbed lamely to Argentina. Against the Pumas, Scotland were 13 points adrift before the strains of the anthems were lost on the breeze. Yesterday they were not quite so profligate, but as their coach Jim Telfer said afterwards: "We were under a bit of pressure for not playing very well last week. Tonight we were a lot better and the players deserve a great deal of credit for sticking to the game plan."

That did not include Kenny Logan squandering a simple penalty opportunity after only two minutes, and with it the chance to complete a century of points in the thistled jersey. But Logan made no mistake in reaching his milestone after Peter Walton spearheaded a powerful drive and popped a delightful pass to the supporting Alan Tait who crossed to the right of the posts. Logan converted and Scotland, so it seemed, were on their way.

Romania were finding it difficult to thread a way through the home defence, their only means of scoring coming through the boot of Petre Mitu, or his half-back partner Roland Vusec. They each missed a penalty before Mitu was successful.

Meanwhile Logan had slotted two more penalties, before Romania decided that the kicking responsibilities should remain with Mitu; the busy little scrum-half hauling Romania ack to 13-6 with his second penalty on the half-hour.

Until that point the visitors' defence had looked pretty solid, but another whopping forward drive ended with Stuart Grimes being awarded a try. Logan converted and then showed the Scotland backs the way to the line by clinging on to a sharp pass from Duncan Hodge and converting to take the Scots to 27-6 at the break.

Although they had scored three tries without reply, Scotland appeared unable to dispose of a resolute if limited Romania without the kind of inspiration the injured Gregor Townsend or the unavailable John Leslie bring to their midfield. Even so Scotland began the second half with a bang to hint that better things were no more than a swift passage of play away.

Mitu lifted Romania's spirits with the third of his four penalties and had the consolation of scoring Romania's only try. As so often in their recent history, time was to run out for them. James McLaren crossed for a debut try which the imperturbable Logan converted. Amid the flurry of replacements, Scotland scored four more tries through Martin Leslie, Logan and Tom Smith, plus a penalty try.

Scotland: G Metcalfe ; S Longstaff (both Glasgow), A Tait (Edinburgh), J McLaren (Bourgoin), K Logan (Wasps); D Hodge (Edinburgh), G Armstrong (Newcastle, capt); T Smith (Glasgow), R Russell (Edinburgh), G Graham (Newcastle), S Murray (Saracens), S Grimes (Glasgow), P Walton (Newcastle), M Leslie (Edinburgh), G Simpson (Glasgow). Replacements: C Joiner (Leicester) for McLaren, 74; B Redpath (Narbonne) for Armstrong, 63; C Mather (Glasgow) for Walton, 63; D Weir (Newcastle) for Simpson, 80; D Hilton (Glasgow) for Graham, 69.

Romania: M Vioreanu (Timisoara Univ); R Fugigi (Caen), G Brezoianu (Timisoara Univ), R Gontineac (Aurillac), C Sauan (Cluj Univ); R Vusec (Strasbourg), P Mitu (Steaua Bucharest); D Niculae (Aurillac), P Balan, C Stan (Dinamo Bucharest), C Draguceanu (Steaua Bucharest), D Chiriac (Farul Constanta), F Corodeanu (Steaua Bucharest), E Septar (Farul Constanta), A Petrache (Steaua Bucharest, capt). Replacements: G Solomie (Aurillac) for Brezoianu, 54; V Cerces (Cluij Univ) for Niculae, 75; O Slusariuc (Dinamo Bucharest) for Chiriac, 54; D Tudosa (Steaua Bucharest) for Stan, 78.

Referee: C White (England).