Preview: England v Romania

Date published: September 24 2011

England are safe in the knowledge that victory over Romania in Dunedin will guarantee their progress into the last eight of RWC 2011.

England are safe in the knowledge that victory over Romania at Otago Stadium will assure their progress through to the last eight of RWC 2011.

After overcoming the Pumas and Georgia, the Oaks now stand in their path in what should be a simple task for such a well prepared outfit.

But much like their soccer equivalents, it seems that some media are swaying towards the 'build the players up, then chop them down' approach.

“Let's try + help/push our England rugby team not ruin them!” said Mark Cueto during the week.

And Cueto said it was only footballers in Premier League who could truly understand the scrutiny facing Martin Johnson's outfit at the World Cup.

“Over here it is a massive goldfish bowl and you do get a bit of a feel for what it's like for those Premiership boys in England, when you can't walk the street without people asking for photos and autographs and everything else,” the 31-year-old Cueto, capped 53 times, added.

“It is nice — but to be experiencing it every time you walk out the hotel is difficult.

“We know we are where we are in a World Cup in New Zealand which is the biggest rugby nation in the world. So you've got to accept it to a degree and we know it probably won't be as bad when we get home.”

Meanwhile, Romania coach Romeo Gontineac has denied that his eleven personnel changes, and three positional, were made with a view to saving players to face Georgia.

“Risky would be to keep the same team because for two games we have played almost the same team,” Gontineac said.

“We trusted these players before the World Cup and we trust them for this match on Saturday.”

Lock Cristian Petre is the only player to start in the same position he began against Argentina and will lead the side, with Marius Tincu dropping to the bench. Tincu is replaced at hooker by Bogdan Zebega, with Silviu Florea and Nicolae Nere propping either side. Ionel Cazan moves from left wing to outside centre in a reshuffled backline, Ovidiu Tonita switches from openside to eight and Iulian Dumitras moves up to number twelve.

England's Tom Palmer identified Dumitras as a threat after facing him in the Top 14.

“He's got a massive kick,” Palmer said.

“He can kick the ball about 70 yards. We'd be in his 22 and he's kicking the ball back into your 22, so it's quite hard playing against that.”

Not hard enough though for Romania as England have a back-three that'll hurt Dumitras and the Oaks in what should turn into a simple five points for Martin Johnson's men.

Players to watch:

For England: Despite making his debut shortly before the start of the tournament, young Manu Tuilagi has set the World Cup alight with some fine efforts. His try against Georgia showed how devastating he can be with ball in hand and he's also made his presence felt with some big hits on defence.

For Romania: Romania fly-half Marin Danut Dumbrava returns to the starting XV this week after missing a couple of vital penalties during the Oaks' opening 34-24 loss against Scotland. Dumbrava will have to improve considerably on that performance as goal-kicking could be the only way his nation will be able to score points against their stronger rivals.

Head-to-head: The clash in the front-row between hookers Steve Thompson and Bogdan Zebega Suman should be an intense one. Thompson is one of the most experienced hookers in world rugby who is usually not shy to challenge his opposite number directly. Suman starts his first tournament match after replacing regular skipper Marius Tincu, who has been relegated to the bench. Therefore, don't be surprised if Thompson dominates.

Recent results:

2001: England won 134-0 at Twickenham
1994: England won 54-3 at Twickenham
1989: England won 58-3 in Bucharest
1985: England won 22-15 at Twickenham

Prediction: Romania's defence will open up as the game progresses. England by 65!

England: 15 Ben Foden, 14 Chris Ashton, 13 Manu Tuilagi, 12 Mike Tindall, 11 Mark Cueto, 10 Jonny Wilkinson, 9 Ben Youngs, 8 James Haskell, 7 Lewis Moody (c), 6 Tom Croft, 5 Tom Palmer, 4 Louis Deacon, 3 Dan Cole, 2 Steve Thompson, 1 Alex Corbisiero.
Replacements: 16 Lee Mears, 17 David Wilson, 18 Simon Shaw, 19 Tom Wood, 20 Richard Wigglesworth, 21 Toby Flood, 22 Delon Armitage.

Romania: 15 Florin Adrian Vlaicu, 14 Stefan Eugen Ciuntu, 13 Ionel Cazan, 12 Iulian Dumitras, 11 Adrian Marian Apostol, 10 Marin Danut Dumbrava, 9 Lucian Mihai Sirbu, 8 Ovidiu Tonita, 7 Cosmin Aurel Ratiu, 6 Sandu Stelian Burcea, 5 Cristian Constantin Petre (capt), 4 Valentin Poparlan, 3 Silviu Florea, 2 Bogdan Zebega Suman, 1 Nicolae Nere.
Replacements: 16 Marius Tincu, 17 Paulica Ion, 18 Mihai Macovei, 19 Daniel Gabriel Ianus, 20 Valentin Nicolae Calafeteanu, 21 Csaba Minya Gal, 22 Catalin Marius Nicolae.

Date: Saturday, September 24
Kick-off: 18:00 (06:00 GMT
Venue: Otago Stadium, Dunedin
Referee: Romain Poite (France)
Assistant referees: Jonathan Kaplan (South Africa), Simon McDowell (Ireland)
Television match official: Shaun Veldsman (South Africa)