Sun, Oct 19, 2003 - Page 24 News List

Australia gets 13 tries on Romania

RUGBY WORLD CUP Mat Rogers crossed for three tries, Matt Burke and Stephen Larkham scored two each and Elton Flatley scored in only 18 seconds


Australian winger Wendell Sailor, left, and centre Elton Flatley, bottom, tackle Romanian fullback Danut Dumbrava during their Pool A Rugby World Cup 2003 in Brisbane, Australia, Saturday.


Elton Flatley recorded the fastest opening try in a Rugby World Cup match and Australia raced to its biggest winning total in internationals with 13 tries in Saturday's 90-8 win over Romania.

Fullback Mat Rogers crossed for three tries, center Matt Burke and flyhalf Stephen Larkham scored two apiece and Flatley landed 11 conversions and a penalty to go with his touchdown -- after 18 seconds -- for a haul of 30 points.

The win eclipsed Australia's previous best international win, a 76-0 win over England at the same stadium in 1998, and its previous best in a World Cup, a 57-9 win over Romania in 1999.

"It was a good effort," said Australia captain George Gregan, who missed out the second half.

"Everyone expects you to win by a big score. We had to work hard. We adapted pretty well in the second half."

Looking ahead to another high-scoring victory over Group A minnow Namibia in a week's time, he said: "We can't wait to get to Adelaide."

Larkham admitted he and his teammates were guilty of some sloppy ball-handling in the first half.

"It was a little disappointing with a few dropped balls," he said. "It was a bit slippery but we ran away with it in the end. I think the reserves made a big impact. Our fitness really showed."

Tries had been scored in the opening minute of World Cup matches from 1987-1995, but organizers believed none was as fast as Flatley's five-pointer in Brisbane.

Springboks scrumhalf Joost van der Westhuizen had the fastest previous try of this tournament, crossing after 66 seconds in South Africa's 72-6 win over Uruguay last week.

Flatley took the opening kick-off and lock Nathan Sharpe regained possession with a leap over the Romanian pack.


* Australia 90 (Tries -- Mat Rogers (3) 13th, 29th, 64th, Matt Burke (2) 25th, 38th, Stephen Larkham (2) 48th, 62nd, Elton Flatley 1st, Stirling Mortlock 58th, Joe Roff 60th, Matt Giteau 67th, Lote Tuqiri 74th, George Smith 77th; conversions -- Elton Flatley (11) 2nd, 13th, 26th, 30th, 39th, 49th, 61st, 63rd, 67th, 75th, 78th; Penalties -- Elton Flatley 8th)

* Romania 8 (Tries -- Petrisor Toderasc 20th; Penalties -- Ionut Tofan 32nd)

* Halftime 38-8

Hooker Brendan Cannon crashed through three tackles on the subsequent phase and then Flatley took a pass from Larkham on the quarterline, broke two tackles and touched down under the posts after 18 seconds.

He converted to make it 7-0 and added a penalty goal in the 8th minute before setting up Australia's second try, palming off two defenders out wide on the 40m line, drawing the cover and unloading to give Rogers an unopposed run to the line in the 13th.

Romania hit back after No. 8 George Chiriac snatched a lineout ball against the throw and barged to within a meter, then prop Petrisor Toderasc lunged over in the 20th minute for Romania's first ever try against Australia.

Larkham put Burke into a gap and the outside center scored to the right of the posts in the 25th. And the Wallabies earned a bonus point for their fourth try four minutes later after Rogers scored following a 40m charge from Burke.

Flatley made it four from four conversions to make the score 31-5 after a half hour and then converted Burke's second try two minutes before halftime as the Wallabies took a 38-8 lead at the break. Romania's only other points were via a Ionut Tofan penalty in the 32nd minute.

After a slow start to the second half, Larkham scored from a quick tap and burrowed in under the posts.

Stirling Mortlock replaced Burke in the 50th minute for his first test appearance in 12 months and crossed for a strong try eight minutes later, which opened a scoring spree.

Joe Roff scored his fifth try in World Cups against the Romanians -- having figured in the wins in 1995 and 1999 -- on the hour. Larkham sliced through in the 62nd minute for his second of the match and then put Rogers into the clear and the fullback raced 60 meters for his third.

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