Preview: Romania v USA

Date published: November 7 2014

From the fanfare of last week’s contest in Chicago the USA travel to Europe, taking on Romania in Bucharest.

From the fanfare of last week’s contest in Chicago the USA travel to Europe, taking on Romania in Bucharest.

Last week’s match was an overwhelming success in terms of raising the profile of the sport in the United States, especially given the national television broadcast and that a record 61,000 crowd were in attendance.

Matters on the scoreboard were less successful, but that was to be expected.

What can’t be questioned is the attitude of the USA’s leading players despite the deficit on the scoreboard, especially from Leicester’s Blaine Scully and captain Todd Clever.

Crucially, neither player is available for Saturday’s contest – Clever through injury. Other big players such as Northampton’s Samu Manoa and Saracens lock Hayden Smith similarly are not available.

Losing those top players back to their clubs was part of the release deal made with Premiership Rugby to have the likes of Scully and Manoa available for the All Blacks clash last week.

It does mean however that they will be shorn of a number of high-profile stars after the game against Romania, when the USA face Tonga and Fiji.

That situation gives them a chance for the depth in their squad to shine through. Tim Stanfill wins his 50th cap in Bucharest while speedster Taku Ngewnya returns on the wing.

As for Romania, predominantly made up of players from the domestic league save for a handful from the Top 14 and Cătălin Fercu from Saracens, they will be hungry to capitalise on their home advantage.

Lynn Howells, the former Wales assistant coach under Graham Henry, believes success isn’t too far away.

“We’ve recently beaten Tonga and Canada and I think we’ll surprise a few people at the World Cup. Our big goal is to win two games, which would mean automatic qualification for the 2019 competition – that would be huge for Romania,” Howells told the Guardian.

“The level of the top players is good. The difficulty is that our best players are all forwards.

“The backs have some way to go, to be honest.”

Prediction: Romania’s pack and some passionate support should swing this one their way. Romania by six.

Previous results:
2012: USA won 34-3 in Bucharest
2005: USA won 28-22 in Tokyo
1999: Romania won 27-25 at Lansdowne Rd, Dublin
1924: United States won 37-0 at Stade Colombes, Paris

The teams:

Romania: 15 Cătălin Fercu, 14 Adrian Apostol, 13 Csaba Gal, 12 Florin Vlaicu, 11 Robert Neagu, 10 Dorin Manole, 9 Valentin Calafeteanu, 8 Daniel Carpo, 7 Ovidiu Tonita, 6 Mihai Macovei, 5 Alin Coste, 4 Marius Sirbe, 3 Ion Paulica, 2 Otar Turashvili, 1 Mihaita Lazar.
Replacements: 16 Andrei Radoi, 17 Andrei Ursache, 18 Horatiu Pungea, 19 Valentin Popirlan, 20 Vlad Nistor, 21 Florin Surugiu, 22 Robert Dascalu, 23 Florin Ionita

USA: 15 Folau Niua, 14 Taku Ngwenya, 13 Seamus Kelly, 12 Andrew Suniula, 11 Tim Stanfill, 10 Adam Siddall, 9 Mike Petri, 8 Matt Trouville, 7 John Quill, 6 Todd Clever (coffee) 5 Louis Stanfill, 4 Tai Tuisamoa, 3 Olive Kilifi, 2 Phil Thiel, 1 Nick Wallace.
Replacements: 16 Tom Coolican, 17 Benjamin Tarr, 18 Mate Moeakiola, 19 Greg Peterson, 20 John Cullen, 21 Kyle Sumsion, 22 Shalom Suniula, 23 Roland Suniula.

Date: Saturday, November 8
Kick-off: 18:30 local (16:30 GMT)
Venue: Stadionul National Arcul de Triumf, Bucharest
Referee: Leighton Hodges (Wales)
Assistant Referees: Ian Davies (Wales), Neil Hennessy (Wales)
TMO: Marshall Kilgore (Ireland)