Invercargill, New Zealand. Scotland escaped suffering an embarrassing shock on the opening weekend of the World Cup to Romania but only thanks to two late Simon Danielli tries.
The powerful wing struck twice in the final five minutes to save Scotland from a disastrous defeat at Invercargill’s Rugby Park Stadium.
It was a cruel finale for Romania after The Oaks looked on course to secure an historic draw with the scores locked at 24-24 after 75 minutes.
Tries from Mihaita Lazar and Daniel Carpo either side of half-time even hinted at only a second World Cup victory for the eastern Europeans.
But after early tries by Mike Blair and Joe Ansbro, Max Evans twice broke free from defense to set up a brace of tries from distance for his fellow wing that clinched a bonus point victory for Scotland in Pool B.
“I am disappointed with some aspects of our game, but we got the win and we got the bonus point. We have an awful lot to work on, but we will get there,” said Scotland skipper Alastair Kellock.
There was little to suggest what was to come when Scotland took less than two minutes to open their World Cup account through the boot of Paterson, setting a national record with his appearance at a fourth finals.
Ansbro ensured the Scots capitalized on an impressive start when he combined with Danielli, before scrum-half Blair stepped past the last defender to score his team’s first try of the campaign in style.
Paterson scuffed the conversion after the ball toppled from the kicking tee as he connected with his right boot before opposite number Marin Dumbrava, who missed with his first attempt, cut the lead to Romania opening points of the tournament after 12 minutes.
Scotland showed ambition and Ansbro capped a lively display with a well-taken try on 20 minutes, converted by Paterson.
Dumbrava struck a second penalty to keep Romania in touch, as his forwards seized the initiative, but the fly-half failed to make the most of the possession with another miss.
Paterson looked to have steadied the ship with another penalty only for Aix-en-Provence prop Lazar to lift Romanian spirits, touching down from a driving lineout on the stroke of half-time.
That showed in their defense as Paterson and Dumbrava traded penalties, before Romania stepped up again up front to pin Scotland against the ropes.
Tiberius Dimofte kicked a penalty and added the conversion after No 8 Carpo drove off the back of a powerful scrum to hand Romania the lead in the 66th minute.
Paterson equalized moments later before Danielli’s late double denied the tournament an early shock.