England scored 10 tries in their 67-3 drubbing over a weakened Romanian side in Dunedin.
This was England’s most convincing performance of the tournament. They ran riot on attack with wings Mark Cueto and Christ Ashton the chief assaulters as they grabbed a hat-trick each. On defence, they managed to keep Romania tryless as the minnows could muster three points in the whole game through a first-half penalty via flyhalf Marin Dumbrava. However, in fairness, this victory shouldn’t be celebrated too much.
Effectively, this was Romania’s ‘B’ team as they made 11 changes, including another 14 positional changes, from their strongest team that faced Argentina in their previous game. England also rung the changes as Martin Johnson made seven adjustments, but they were far from a weakened team. It was always going to be a comprehensive victory for the 2003 champions.
And that was how it panned out. England’s forwards were dominant up front against their hapless opponents, with loose forwards James Haskell and Tom Croft thriving with the regular front foot ball. The backline also flourished with the forwards’ ascendancy, and exposed a frail defence that met them.
Cueto scored England’s first three tries in the opening 27 minutes. However, it won’t be counted as the fastest World Cup hat-trick as Wallabies speedster Adam Ashley-Cooper scored a second-half hat-trick inside seven minutes against America on Friday. Ashton continued the first-half rout, dotting down twice for a 34-3 lead at the break.
Scrumhalf Ben Youngs, fullback Ben Foden, outside centre Manu Tuilagi and Croft all crossed the chalk in the second stanza before Ashton dived over for the final try to complete his hat-trick and seal a resounding win.
By Gareth Duncan