Sorin ready to Soc it to the Scots at Murrayfield

WHILE millions of Scots were glued to events in Paris on Wednesday night, Frank Hadden's attention was solely focused on events 500 miles south in Marseilles.

As our football team were beating France in their Euro 2008 qualifier, Italy edged past Romania - Scotland's next opponents - 24-18, in one of the drabbest contests of the World Cup so far.

The positive of another faltering Italian display was undermined by the negative of a battling, if ill-disciplined, Romanian performance.

Tries by Alexandru Manta and Marius Tincu put Romania ahead in the second half but they proved their own worst enemies after giving away 16 penalties.

Certainly, Hadden saw enough evidence to realise the Oaks have vastly improved since their last Murrayfield outing saw Scotland rain in seven tries.

The Romanians, ranked 16th in the world, have targeted a third-placed finish in the group and skipper Sorin Socol insists they can add to a World Cup full of shocks by grabbing a result at Murrayfield on Tuesday.

He said: "We could and should have beaten Italy, so now our focus is on Scotland.

"We were just as good as Italy but we did not get the decisions we needed. It seems the little countries still seem to be treated differently to the big ones. We were committing fouls and so were Italy but we were not getting the decisions our way like in the penalty try.

"We are not happy with the result but we have to pick ourselves up for the Scotland game.

"If we are good enough to beat Italy, then we can beat Scotland.

"They will have the home advantage which will be like an extra man for them but we are not going to fear them.

"We have made huge progress since the last few years and we need to show that with a big result.

"In the past, we have managed to beat Scotland but to beat them in the World Cup would be our greatest result."

Those with long memories may recall the 1984 Grand Slam winners falling to a 24-6 defeat in Romania while in 1991 Ian McGeechan's side lost 18-12.

And, despite slipping in the world rankings since then, few would argue their minnow status applies to their monstrous pack.

The Italians' much-vaunted front row was twisted, turned and shoved backwards by Bogdan Balan, Marius Tincu and Petrisor Toderasc.

All three play their club rugby in France while Perpignan's powerful No.8 Ovidiu Tonita is perhaps their one world-class player.

Although that talent does not extend behind the scrum, Hadden would do well to order some extra supplies of Deep Heat for the Murrayfield clash.

And lock Socol believes his side have all the raw ingredients for the Oaks to reignite past glories.

He added: "When rugby was amateur, the gap was not so big between the smaller and bigger nations. Since professionalism the bigger nations have had more money and organisation while we have been left behind. We are playing catch-up but we are getting there.

"We are used to playing at this level of competition and nothing frightens us.

"If we finish third then we automatically for the next World Cup which is very important to us.

"It is a massive incentive and we know we have to get a result at Murrayfield to get there now."

Rory Lamont feels the tight scoreline in Romania's clash with Italy proves Daniel Santamans' men have to be respected.

"I wasn't really surprised [with the Romania-Italy scoreline] because Romania are a physical team and they can do some damage," said the younger of the Lamont brothers, who will play for Sale Sharks in the Guinness Premiership next season.

"The last time we played them [48-6 to Scotland at Murrayfield last November], they were missing a lot of their players who play in the French league so we know it will be a lot tougher when we play them next week.

"Italy have some great forwards, and for them to struggle like they did shows that Romania are a strong team. We obviously know about their pack and their scrum but they have other good players.

"And having watched a lot of the games in this tournament, it is only New Zealand, Australia and South Africa who are really hammering teams.

"Everywhere else it is pretty tight."

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