The importance of ending the year on a high will be in the minds of Romania and Canada when they meet in Bucharest on Saturday.
The importance of ending the year on a high will be in the minds of Romania and Canada when the two countries face off in Bucharest on Saturday.
Stadionul National Arcul de Triumf will be the setting for both team’s final Test of 2014 as the duo arrive on the back of respective Test losses.
Indeed, Romania have yet to win this month after home negatives were inflicted by the USA and Japan, so they enter this match a little desperate.
Canada meanwhile will have taken heart from their narrow defeat to Samoa, which followed a victory over Namibia at Eirias Park in Wales.
What will add further spice to this clash is the fact these two nations meet in the pool stage of next year’s World Cup, with that fixture taking place at Leicester City Stadium on October 6. Therefore any psychological edge gained on Saturday will be warmly welcomed by the victorious outfit.
Canada have made three changes to their XV for this game as captain Tyler Ardron, who has been unavailable throughout the November tour so far due to injury, leads from number eight, while Jon Phelan slots in at lock alongside Jamie Cudmore. Pat Parfrey starts at ten.
The rest of the side remains unchanged from last weekend.
Ardron and Harry Jones each scored tries during last year’s narrow defeat to the Romanians, with all 21 of their opponents’ points coming off the boot of inside centre Florin Vlaicu, who starts at fly-half this weekend. Valentin Calafeteanu completes the half-back pairing.
Romania also boast Saracens player Catalin Fercu, who will wear the number fifteen jersey alongside wings Dorin Manole and Ionut Botezatu. Meanwhile, there’s Top 14 power in the form of flank Valentin Ursache, whose battle with Nanyak Dala could prove key on Saturday.
Ones to Watch
For Romania: As mentioned, Saracens wing Catalin Fercu will be at full-back this weekend and it will be interesting to see how he fares after being involved in such a top class club environment. If he can help spark attacks from the back, Romania will be in business.
For Canada: The presence of Tyler Ardron at number eight is a welcome boost to Canada in this tour finale. The Ospreys man returns to action from injury and his size and speed will surely keep the hosts busy. Romania shouldn’t give Gordon McRorie easy shots at goal.
Head-to-head: Romania goal-kicker and fly-half Florin Vlaicu goes up against young Pat Parfrey in Bucharest, with the latter coming in for Connor Braid, who is now back with Glasgow on Pro12 duty. Much rests on Parfrey’s shoulders as he takes on Vlaicu.
2013: Romania won 22-20 in Bucharest
2005: Romania won 21-20 in Bucharest
1995: Canada won 34-3 in Port Elizabeth
1991: Canada won 19-11 in Toulouse
Prediction: The visitors to finish on a high. Canada by 10!
Romania: 15 Catalin Fercu, 14 Dorin Manole, 13 Csaba Gal, 12 Robert Dascalu, 11 Ionut Botezatu, 10 Florin Vlaicu, 9 Valentin Calafeteanu, 8 Stelian Burcea, 7 Valentin Ursache, 6 Mihai Macovei (capt), 5 Valentin Popirlan, 4 Alin Coste, 3 Horatiu Pungea, 2 Otar Turashvili, 1 Mihaita Lazar.
Replacements: 16 Andrei Radoi, 17 Andrei Ursache, 18 Paulica Ion, 19 Marius Antonescu, 20 Vlad Nistor, 21 Florin Surugiu, 22 Florin Ionita, 23 Robert Neagu.
Canada: 15 James Pritchard, 14 Jeff Hassler, 13 Conor Trainor, 12 Ciaran Hearn, 11 DTH van der Merwe, 10 Patrick Parfrey, 9 Gordon McRorie, 8 Tyler Ardron (capt), 7 Nanyak Dala, 6 Jebb Sinclair, 5 Jon Phelan, 4 Jamie Cudmore, 3 Jason Marshall, 2 Aaron Carpenter, 1 Hubert Buydens.
Replacements: 16 Ray Barkwill, 17 Andrew Tiedemann, 18 Doug Wooldridge, 19 Kyle Gilmour, 20 Richard Thorpe, 21 Sean White, 22 Jordan Wilson-Ross, 23 Nick Blevins.
Date: Saturday, November 22
Kick-off: 18:30 local, 16:30 GMT
Venue: Stadionul National Arcul de Triumf, Bucharest, Romania
Referee: Nick Briant (New Zealand)
Assistant referees: Andrew McMenemy (Scotland), Lloyd Linton (Scotland)
Television match official: Geoff Warren (England)