After an opening round loss to defending champions South Africa, Scotland, ranked fifth in the World Rugby Men’s Rankings powered by Capgemini, got their tournament going with a bonus-point win over Tonga, last weekend.
A repeat performance against Romania will set up an enthralling final pool challenge for Gregor Townsend’s side, against world number one outfit Ireland at Stade de France next Saturday.
With one eye on that match next week, Townsend will give a first test start to tight-head prop Javan Sebastian as part of an entirely fresh pack in a much-changed team. Jamie Bhatti, Luke Crosbie, Hamish Watson and Ben Healy will also make their tournament bow, while Johnny Matthews is set to make his Scotland debut off the bench having been called into the squad as a replacement for Stuart McInally.
Romania haven’t enjoyed the best of tournaments so far. They have conceded 158 points and scored just eight in their first two games - and face Tonga in the penultimate match of the pool phase next Sunday. But coach Eugen Apjok will make sure they won’t go down without a fight here.
Apjok has rung the changes - with only five players remain in Romania’s starting line-up from the team beaten 76-0 by South Africa, while Taliauli Sikuea will make his Rugby World Cup debut on the wing.
FIXTURE: Scotland v Romania
GROUND: Stade Pierre-Mauroy, Lille (50,096)
KICK-OFF: 21:00 local time (GMT+2)
These two sides have played one another 13 times in tests over the years. Scotland have won 11 of them - their two defeats coming in matches seven years apart, in 1984 and 1991.
This is the fourth time Scotland and Romania have played each other at a Rugby World Cup, with Scotland boasting a perfect three from three record to date. Sometimes it was a close-run thing, however. Simon Danielli scored two late tries - in the 75th and 78th minutes - to snatch a bonus-point 34-24 victory from the jaws of a possible defeat when the two sides met at RWC 2011 in Invercargill.
KEY TALKING POINT
Whether Scotland can come up on the rails and take one of Pool B’s quarter-final slots that some have provisionally - prematurely? - handed to the Springboks and the Irish. Gregor Townsend’s side first need to focus on this match before preparing for the decider against Ireland.
Javan Sebastian v Alexandru Savin. Scotland’s Sebastian, on his first-ever test start, packs down opposite against Romania’s Savin, a player making his first Rugby World Cup start after two outings off the bench - but who has a reputation as a powerful and destructive scrummager.
Romania were involved in the first-ever test played in Tasmania, at Rugby World Cup 2003. The Oaks scored five tries in their final pool match there against Namibia, winning 37-7.
Wayne Barnes (England). In his two matches to date at Rugby World Cup 2023 in France, Barnes has awarded 50 penalties - only Ben O’Keeffe has blown for more (51).
SCOTLAND Ollie Smith; Darcy Graham, Chris Harris, Cameron Redpath, Kyle Steyn; Ben Healy, Ali Price; Jamie Bhatti, Ewan Ashman, Javan Sebastian; Sam Skinner, Grant Gilchrist (captain); Luke Crosbie, Hamish Watson, Matt Fagerson
Replacements: Johnny Matthews, Rory Sutherland, WP Nel, Scott Cummings, Rory Darge, George Horne, Blair Kinghorn, Huw Jones
ROMANIA Marius Simionescu; Sioeli Lama, Jason Tomane, Fonovai Tangimana, Taliauli Sikuea; Alin Conache, Gabriel Rupanu; Alexandru Savin, Robert Irimescu, Gheorghe Gajion; Adrian Motoc, Stefan Iancu; Florian Rosu, Dragos Ser, Cristian Chirica (captain)
Replacements: Florin Bardasu, Iulian Hartig, Costel Burtila, Marius Iftimiciuc, Damian Stratila, Florin Surugiu, Tudor Boldor, Nicholas Onutu