EXETER: Italy produced their most polished performance of the Rugby World Cup by beating Romania 32-22 on Sunday to secure third place in Pool D.
Italy’s second win of the tournament condemned Romania to fourth place in the group, meaning the Oaks will have to qualify for the next World Cup in 2019.
Leonardo Sarto, Edoardo Gori and Tommaso Allan crossed for first-half tries and Alessandro Zanni added a fourth for Italy, who are the only top-tier nation never to have qualified for the knockout stage.
Romania, who produced the biggest comeback in World Cups when they recovered a 15-point deficit to beat Canada on Tuesday, produced a spirited rally from 29-3 down. Adrian Apostol went over for two tries and Valentin Poparlan scored in the last 14 minutes.
their captains, the injured Sergio Parisse missing for Italy and Romania’s Mihai Macovei serving a ban after losing an appeal against his suspension for a dangerous tackle in the win over Canada.
Romania’s forward power was again underlined in the opening minutes when they obliterated an Italian scrum and Florin Vlaicu nailed a long-range penalty.
Italy almost hit back immediately when scrumhalf Gori kicked ahead and got to the line first but could not ground the ball.
But they did not have long to wait to put points on the board, reaping the reward for zipping the ball wide for Michele Campagnaro to send winger Sarto over for an easy score.
Romania lock Johannes van Heerden went to the sin bin for cynical play, which Allan punished with three points, then Gori capped a sustained spell of pressure against 14 men to scamper over for Italy’s second try.
The Italians, were also in unforgiving mood when called on defensively, again showing the resilience that frustrated Ireland for long periods as they repelled phase after phase of Romanian possession close to their line before the break.
Having relieved the pressure, Italy struck again when Allan exploited a huge gap in the Romanian defence to cross for a third try, which he converted to put his side 22-3 up at halftime.
Number eight Zanni popped out of a scrum to dive over to extend the lead further but Romania again showed that one thing they do not lack is spirit, finishing with a flourish as they attacked right to the final whistle.- [Agencies]