Thursday, 13 March 2014

Did Vlaicu choke vs Georgia in 2013?


How costly will Romania's missed chances in last year’s drawn ENC decider against Georgia in Bucharest end up being? Here is a look at the moments of the match that cost the Oaks last year’s ENC and may also cost them the easier pool draw at next year's World Cup in England.

Before last year's head to head match between Romania and Georgia, the Lelos came into the game horribly off form, they coughed and spluttered past sides they would expect to beat easily like Belgium, Portugal and Russia. Romania meanwhile had got through the opening four games with no thrills but with the job more safely done.
Georgia just managed to
escape Bucharest with
their ENC crown last year

With the Georgians' form stuttering so much and with the Romanians more simple but efficient gameplan under the guidance of Lynn Howells settling in quickly, it was a great opportunity for the Oaks to record their first ENC Grand Slam for 11 years and put themselves in the driving seat to get the easier pool at the World Cup.

Sadly for the Oaks, it was an opportunity they let slip. The sides had been exchanging penalties with each other in an even match, but after Georgia took a penalty to go 9-6 up at 43 minutes Romania upped their game and launching a spell of about 15 minutes pressure in the Lelos half.  Romania soon levelled the scores in this dominant period, and then again from a maul created another penalty chance for goal kicker Florin Vlaicu.

Vlaicu missed two other penalties in the match but they were from over 50 metres out in his own half, this was one that most top kickers would expect to get but it swerved to the left. It might seem a bit harsh to criticise just one missed kick, but in such a tight game poised at 9-9 it was crucial and could be filed under the category labelled "choke".
GIF: Vlaicu's crucial missed penalty against Georgia as
Romania fail to capitalise on a period of pressure.
After the penalty, there was one more moment that could have led to Romania getting the 3 points. The Oaks scrum had been on top all game and were shunting the Georgians back in the shadow of their own posts, but the referee just reset the scrum and Georgia escaped to the crowd's displeasure.
GIF: Romania's scrum won 6 of their 9 points and this
dominant scrum might have won the match had the
referee decided to award a penalty.
As the game drew to a close both teams got more nervous just not to lose and the game ended up in a draw, which meant Georgia won the ENC on points difference (largely thanks to thrashing Spain). The Georgians are now on better form in 2014 head into the decider with home advantage and with no strings attached to the win they need. Georgia got away with their poor form unscathed this time last year, if they had lost this game then they would have had to win this weekend by over 7 points to get the easier pool draw.

Despite missing the pressure kick against Georgia, Vlaicu did manage to achieve some redemption later in the year. In the last minute against Tonga from roughly the exactly the same spot on the Arcul de Triumf turf, Vlaicu stroked a penalty sweetly through the posts to secure an upset and one of Romania's most notable victories in recent years. He also again kept his cool under pressure to repeat a last minute match winning penalty the following week against Canada.
GIF: Vlaicu achieved redemption for his choke
against Georgia by sealing Romania's biggest
win of recent years vs Tonga later in the year.


  1. ultravioletu13/3/14 3:05 pm

    I believe that the result from 2012 (13-19) hurt equally. The six points difference were caused by two very stupid penalties conceded in front of the posts by Vlaicu (Am-Football-like hit, only shoulder, no arms around) and Lucaci (tripping, what the heck was he thinking?). And the very last play was a scrum at Georgian 5m line (chosen instead of a penalty), which was simply reset a couple of times, despite the Lelos being consistently on the back step - similar to the examply above...

  2. Decent article. But I have some objections :D
    I think that both teams had chance to win. The author may remember, that Kvirikashvili dropped the ball in a situation where the try was almost inevitable and Georgia could gain 7 points advantage (Georgia was playing advantage and after this forward play, Meko converted the penalty. it was in second half). Morover, there were cases, when Georgian backs broke line and could not make right decision in simple situation. I remember Khmaladze had such episode in second half. Hence, both teams had chance for win.

  3. In 2012 Romania gained last minute pressure at the expense of Vito Kolelishvili's episode. I think that it was not fair to sent off only Vito. Tincu was equally guilty. Hence, it was deserved win for Georgia. The point difference could be even bigger without Tincu's provocation or if they would be sent off together (which would be the fair decision).