Rugby Union: Telfer's men tell no tall tales

Click to follow
The Independent Online
Scotland 60 Romania 19

JIM TELFER is the sort of man who insists his players wear kilts to after-match functions, so he can see they have still got their feet firmly on the ground. Not until he is called to join the other good men of border rugby on that great pitch in the sky will Telfer, Scotland's coach and arch-pragmatist, eventually get carried away.

Judged solely on the scoreline, this was an emphatic victory for sure, but there was very little for anyone to get carried away by, unless there is an acknowledgement that Scotland's performance showed some improvement after their lame defeat by Argentina a week earlier. Although he did not say as much afterwards, Telfer knows that until John Leslie and Gregor Townsend renew their partnership in midfield, Scotland remain bereft of two of their three most incisive runners. Along with Alan Tait, Townsend and Leslie are capable of penetrating defences considerably more tightly- locked than Romania's was at a sparsely-attended Hampden Park on Saturday evening.

Those three names - with that of Kenny Logan, who looked sharp and back to somewhere near his best, scoring two tries in a personal haul of 26 points - will be first on the sheet when Telfer names his chosen 30 to do duty in the World Cup. In the hard-yards department there was praise for some who should also figure in Telfer's Cup plans. "I thought Tom Smith was outstanding," said Telfer. "Scott Murray caught well and Robert Russell was technically very good. Gordon Simpson took the ball up effectively, while overall the players stuck to the game plan, even if it took us longer than expected to break the Romanians down."

First to the break was Tait, who latched on to Peter Walton's deft pass for the opening try. Logan converted to reach his century of points for Scotland and, before the half was out, the Wasps' winger had banged over two penalties and converted a couple of tries, including his own.

Little was seen of Romania, except some determined tackling and a willingness to kill the ball at every opportunity. In this respect they were well marshalled by their captain, Alin Petrache, who was at the heart of their defence. There was no sign of the strong running that had brought them five tries in a World Cup qualifier against Ireland in Dublin last November. They looked competent enough at half-back, with Petre Mitu kicking two penalties. But there had been no hint of a Romanian try and they were 27-6 adrift at the interval.

With only 6,802 in the re-built stadium, there was no more chance of hearing the Hampden roar any more than there was of cheering a Romanian victory. But the noise rose above a whisper as Scotland went about their business with more vigour. And there was genuine applause for Mitu, who got a consolation try and conversion, plus two more penalties.

Yet, while never fully convincing, the Scots scored another 33 points thanks to Logan, James McLaren, Smith, Martin Leslie and Hodge.

Scotland: Tries Logan 2, Grimes, M Leslie, McLaren, penalty, T Smith, Tait. Conversion Logan 5, Hodge 2. Penalties Logan 2. Romania: Tries Mitu. Conversion Mitu. Penalties Mitu 4.

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 Mtu (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 (Cluj Univ) for Niculae, 75; O Slusariuc (Dinamo Bucharest) for Chiriac, 54; D. Tudosa (Steaua Bucharest) for Stan, 78.

Referee: C. White (England).

Comments