Rugby World Cup 2015: Italy 32-22 Romania
|Italy (22) 32|
|Tries: Sarto, Gori, Allan, Zanni Con: Allan 3 Pen: Allan 2|
|Romania (3) 22|
|Try: Apostol 2, Poparlan Con: Vlaicu 2 Pen: Vlaicu|
Italy secured a bonus-point win over Romania at Sandy Park to finish third in World Cup Pool D and book their place at the 2019 tournament.
Leonardo Sarto, Edoardo Gori and Tommaso Allan scored first-half tries for Italy after Florin Vlaicu's penalty had given Romania an early lead.
Alessandro Zanni went over for Italy soon after the restart.
But two tries from Adrian Apostol and one from Valentin Popirlan ensured Romania ended with their spirits high.
Italy show their class
The Azzuri showed how big the gap has become between Europe's top tier and second-tier nations.
When the World Cup began in 1987, Romania were the country tipped as the next big thing in Europe, but since then Italy have leapfrogged them to join the Six Nations, and that gap showed at Sandy Park.
While Romania might have taken an early lead through Vlaicu's 40-metre penalty, it just seemed to just spur Italy into action as they scored 22 unanswered points before the break.
Exeter-bound Michele Campagnaro's excellent run set up Sarto for Italy's first try, before Romanian second row Johann Van Heerden was sin-binned.
His side shipped 10 points while he was off as Gori sneaked in after Allan's penalty.
When back to 15 men on the field, Romania laid siege to the Italian try-line, but some outstanding defence stopped them before Allan's outstanding 40-metre run through the heart of the Romanian defence late in the half capped a solid Italian start.
Romania fight back
Italy got their bonus point soon after the restart as Zanni went over following a sustained period of pressure.
But as both sides emptied their benches, the Romanians ensured they would leave the World Cup with great memories as they scored three unanswered tries - the first time in World Cup history that they have scored a try in each of their pool games.
First, Apostal went over when he was fed the ball from close range after a powerful Romanian scrum pushed back the Italians.
Allan kicked a penalty for the Italians before the Romanian forwards pounded the Italian line again, and Popirlan dotted down after a review from the television match official.
With what was almost the final play of the game, Apostal then scored the try of the match as a long pass from Vlaicu set up the replacement to go over in the corner and send Sandy Park into raptures.
While he did not feature in the match, Mauro Bergamasco marked the end of an era in Italian rugby as he called time on his career.
The 36-year-old was carried off Sandy Park on the shoulders of his team-mates having become just the second player to play in five World Cups.
The former Stade Francais flanker, who made his World Cup debut in a 67-7 loss to England in 1999, ended his career with 106 Test caps - including 13 in the World Cup - and scoring 15 tries for Italy in the process.
What they said
Romania coach Lynn Howells: "I wasn't very happy. Every time we've been on the field against a tier-one nation, we've given away a yellow card, and it was another 10 points today. That was the difference between winning and losing.
"My disappointment is that we had the chance to win against a tier-one nation and we didn't take it."
Italy coach Jacques Brunel: "If we consider that our mission was to come out of this pool, then we nearly achieved our goal.
"We were efficient and scored two or three tries from the backs, but our goal was different and we didn't fully achieve our goal. We were close to coming out of the pool, but didn't manage it and for me that's a disappointment."
Italy: Luke McLean; Leonardo Sarto, Michele Capagnaro, Tommaso Benvenuti, Giovanbattista Venditti, Tommaso Allan, Edoardo Gori; Matias Aguero, Andrea Manici, Lorenzo Cittadini, Quintin Geldenhuys (captain), Josh Furno, Francesco Minto, Simone Favaro, Alessandro Zanni.
Replacements: Davide Giazzon, Alberto De Marchi, Dario Chistolini, Valerio Bernabo, Samuela Vunisa, Guglielmo Palazzani, Carlo Canna, Enrico Bacchin.
Romania: Catalin Fercu; Madalin Lemnaru, Paula Kinikinilau, Florin Vlaicu, Ionut Botezatu, Michael Wiringi, Valentin Calafeteanu; Mihaita Lazar, Otar Turashvili, Paulica Ion, Valentin Popirlan, Johannes van Heerden, Valentin Ursache (captain), Viorel Lucaci, Daniel Carpo.
Replacements: Andrei Radoi, Andrei Ursache, Horatiu Pungea, Marius Antonescu, Stelian Burcea, Tudorel Bratu, Adrian Apostol, Csaba Gal.