England scores 10 tries to beat Romania 67-3
Updated: September 24, 2011, 04:11
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DUNEDIN, New Zealand(AP) England ran in 10 tries Saturday to beat Romania 67-3 at the Rugby World Cup and take full control of Pool B.
Mark Cueto scored a hat trick in his first World Cup appearance since the 2007 final and fellow wing Chris Ashton also crossed three times to take his tally to 14 in 16 internationals.
England never threatened to match the 134-0 win it racked up against the same opponent a decade ago, but avoided being pulled into an arm wrestle with the Romanian forwards and cut out most of the breakdown infringements that marred its wins over Argentina and Georgia.
Ben Youngs, Ben Foden, Manu Tuilagi and Tom Croft added second-half scores to wrap up England's biggest win since Martin Johnson took over as manager three years ago.
England still threw the sort of hurried loose pass that infuriated Johnson in the final quarter of last week's 41-10 win over Georgia but overall produced a far more coherent attacking display, with Jonny Wilkinson to the fore until he was replaced at halftime.
"We looked at our performances last week and we had a lot to improve on and we did that today,'' captain Lewis Moody said. "We still have areas to work on, but the performance across the board was a lot better. That's what happens when we keep hold of the ball and do the basics right.''
A series of replacements disrupted England for a 10-minute spell early in the second half and Romania pounded the line in search of a consolation try, but the 2003 World Cup winners rallied on the hour mark when Tuilagi made another linebreak and ran in unchallenged to score.
"Keeping them out of our tryline was obviously very pleasing,'' Moody said. "They put up a very physical challenge as ever, full credit to Romania. But we had a point to prove to ourselves today and we've gone some way to doing that.''
With England's backs running riot, Croft claimed the first try by an England forward in five matches and Ashton added to his two first-half tries to round off the scoring with a hat trick.
Wilkinson succeeded with three of five conversions and scored a penalty for a nine-point haul, while Toby Flood sent over four of his five conversions.
Cueto, who had scored just once in his previous 25 tests, scored his second international hat trick within 26 minutes. Ashton's third try of the tournament secured a bonus point six minutes later and the former league wing scored again to give his side a 34-3 halftime lead.
Wilkinson had already struck a penalty when he set up the first try with a sharp pass across two teammates to Ashton down the left. Ashton spotted a gap, sprinted through and released Cueto for the corner and his 17th try in 55 appearances, but only his second since March 2009.
A quick tapped penalty on the right by Youngs laid the platform for Cueto's next try, with Tindall passing to the wing, who stepped calmly inside his man to touch down.
A loose forward pass when England had time to recycle and space to attack wasted another opportunity but, with half the Romanian upfield following a turnover, Youngs and Ashton broke and Cueto was on hand to round off on the opposite side for 20-0.
Wilkinson's inside pass laid on Ashton's first score before good work in the loose by Louis Deacon and Steve Thompson down the right sent Ashton in for another try, which he scored with his trademark swan dive. The conversion made it 34-0, with Wilkinson improving on his poor kicking against Argentina two weeks ago, before Danut Dumbrava struck a penalty for Romania.
Mike Tindall took out Lewis Moody with an aerial challenge but his captain was fit to continue after lengthy on-field treatment.
"I took a bit of a blow to the crown jewels,'' Moody said. "It was a little bit sore but it wore off, thankfully.''
Having made 11 changes following a heavy loss to Argentina - seemingly in an effort to rest players for an apparently winnable final match against Georgia - Romania failed to add to its points, with Iulian Dumitras missing a subsequent first-half kick and Dumbrava striking the post just before the interval.
Straight from the restart, Ben Youngs broke, exchanged passes with Tuilagi and touched down for his second tournament try just 21 seconds into the second half.
A linebreak by Tuilagi set up Foden for his try but England waited 12 minutes and withstood Romanian pressure before the Samoan-born center smashed his way through to score himself.
Croft and Ashton then made sure England racked up the second biggest win of this year's tournament - with only New Zealand's 83-7 demolition of Japan exceeding it.
England 67 (Mark Cueto 3, Chris Ashton 3, Ben Youngs, Ben Foden, Manu Tuilagi, Tom Croft tries; Toby Flood 4 conversions, Jonny Wilkinson 3 conversions, penalty) def. Romania 3 (Darit Dumbrava penalty). HT: 34-3.