Rugby Union: Thomas stakes claim for No 10

Robert Cole reports from Wrexham
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The Independent Online
Wales re-wrote the record books, and received a huge compliment from the Romanian coach Mircea Paraschiv, yet still Kevin Bowring was not happy.

The Wales coach, delighted that his side has now strung four consecutive wins together, knows only too well that the mini-revival will be put to the ultimate test at Wembley on 29 November against the All Blacks.

Trouncing Romania is one thing - the 70 points and 11 tries comfortably eclipsed the previous highs for a home international of 55 and nine against Japan in 1993 - but the rampant New Zealanders are a completely different proposition.

No wonder, then, that Bowring's post-match comments were somewhat tempered. "We should have scored more points and we have got to become more ruthless when we find ourselves in a situation like we did in the second half with such a big lead," he said. "We relaxed in the second half when we need to increase the tempo once again. We have only got ourselves to blame for that.

"We will never be satisfied until we find a perfect performance, but it is good that we are building on a winning habit. We are improving and the game against the All Blacks will show us where we really rank."

With Ieuan Evans, Neil Jenkins, Scott Gibbs, Scott Quinnell and Mike Voyle to come into the side, and others banging on the door, Bowring now has the greatest strength in depth during his tenure as coach.

The 23 points provided by Arwel Thomas, one short of Jenkins' national record, illustrated the point as he turned up the heat in the battle for the No 10 jersey.

With the Pontypridd youngster Kevin Morgan settling in well at full-back, it appears to be a straight fight between the Jenkins and Thomas for the pivotal role.

The Swansea stand-off blew hotter than he did cold in the first international staged by Wales in the north. He scored two tries, made a couple of others and kicked reasonably well. Yet still there are question marks about his ability to nurse his forwards and his judgement under pressure. Jenkins, ruled out through injury, is likely to get his chance against Tonga on 16 November.

The 10,300 fans at Wrexham's Racecourse Ground saw the Romanian defence started to leak tries as early as the second minute. By half-time they had conceded six.

In the end their coach had to admit that Wales "were among the best sides we have played in the last five years." Praise indeed, and it got better. "Wales are playing a new game which is the closest to the rugby being played in the southern hemisphere," Paraschiv added.

Just how close everyone will be able to judge at Wembley next month.

Wales: Tries Davies 2, A Thomas 2, Bateman 2, B Williams, Morgan, S Williams, John, Walker; Conversions A Thomas 5, Jarvis; Penalty A Thomas. Romania: Tries Rotaru, Draguceanu; Conversion Guranescu; Penalties Guranescu 3.

Wales: K Morgan (Pontypridd); W Proctor (Llanelli), A Bateman (Richmond), L Davies (Cardiff), G Thomas (Bridgend); A Thomas (Swansea) P John (Pontypridd); C Loader (Swansea), B Williams (Richmond), D Young (Cardiff), S Moore (Swansea), M Rowley (Pontypridd), R Appleyard (Swansea), N Thomas (Bath), G Jones (Cardiff, capt). Replacements: L Mustoe (Cardiff) for Young, h- t; N Walker (Cardiff) for Proctor, 66; S Williams (Cardiff) for Rowley, 68; L Jarvis (Cardiff) for A Thomas, 78.

Romania: V Maftei (Cluj University); L Colceriu (Steaua Bucharest), R Gontineac (Pau), G Solomie (Timisoara University), I Rotaru (Dinamo Bucharest); S Guranescu (Dinamo Bucharest), M Iacob (Dinamo Bucharest); G Vlad (Narbonne), M Radoi (Dinamo Bucharest), A Salageanu (Dinamo Bucharest), T Branza (Narbonne, capt), V Nedelcu (Dinamo Bucharest), F Corodeanu (Steaua Bucharest), C Draguceanu (Steaua Bucharest), E Septar (Farul Constanta). Replacements: C Stan (Dinamo Bucharest) for Salageanu, 48; P Mitu (Steaua Bucharest) for Maftei, 51; I Ruxanda (Farul Constanta) for Septar, 76.

Referee: I Ramage (Scotland).