Romania ended England’s World Team Championships campaign in the first knockout round in Busan, South Korea, early this morning.

It means hopes of team qualification for the Paris Olympics, as Great Britain, are now over and attention turns to the singles qualifying tournament in May.

Previous reports

England fall to USA defeat but beat Kazakhstan

Germany ease to victory over England

England through to knockouts after USA drama

Without Liam Pitchford, whose troublesome ankle injury had not recovered sufficiently, it needed a big performance from Paul Drinkhall, Tom Jarvis and Sam Walker to book a last-16 tie with China.

Jarvis led off against Eduard Ionescu and it was a tight first game, which the Romanian led 8-5 but saw Jarvis fight back to level at 9-9.

Ionescu saw one game point saved, but brought up another with a forehand winner and this time took it as Jarvis went long.

From 4-4 in the second, Ionescu took seven of the next eight points to extend his lead, as errors crept into Jarvis’ game.

The theme continued in the third, though Jarvis did fight back from 9-4 to 9-7 down to raise hopes, but two more errors sealed his fate.

Drinkhall lost the first point against Ovidiu Ionescu but then blitzed his way into an 8-1 lead and an 11-3 game victory in a barrage of winners off both flanks.

He continued his front-foot tactics as he looked to get in at the earliest opportunity in every rally and turn the pressure on an opponent whose body language betrayed an agitated state of mind.

Drinkhall took the second 11-8, though there were signs towards the end that Ionescu was finding his range.

Ionescu took the first two points of the third but then Drinkhall won three to force the Romanian timeout. They traded points from then on, neither able to build a lead of more than one until Ionescu won three in a row to take the game 11-8.

Drinkhall led most of the fourth but when a 7-3 advantage was whittled back to 7-6, he took his timeout. But the momentum was with Ionescu, who took belief from winning an incredible rally at 9-8 to go on and win the game.

Drinkhall probably had to get over the line if England were to have a realistic chance of moving through to the last 16, and when he led the decider 6-3 after four successive points, things looked positive. But Ionescu worked his way back, took the lead at 8-7 and soon brought up three match points, taking the second.

Hopes now rested on Sam Walker, and he saw his left-handed opponent Darius Movileanu get off to a blistering start, winning the first six points and later taking a run of five to win the first game 11-2.

Walker made the better start to game two but his opponent was in dynamic mood, never more exemplified than when he won a superb smashing and lobbing rally midway through the game.

Walker served into the net at 9-9 to present a game point to his opponent, but saved it with a lightning-fast backhand and then brought up a game point of his own, taking it to breath life into the match.

Movileanu took the third thanks largely to a run of five successive points from 4-4. When he led the fourth 3-1, England took their timeout. But it could not stem the tide and it was soon 8-1. When that became 8-5, it was Romania’s turn to take the timeout. And despite Walker fighting to the end, Movileanu closed it out.


Romania 3 England 0
Eduard Ionescu bt Tom Jarvis 3-0 (12-10, 11-5, 11-7)
Ovidiu Ionescu bt Paul Drinkhall 3-2 (3-11, 8-11, 11-8, 11-8, 11-9)
Darius Movileanu bt Sam Walker 3-1 (11-2, 10-12, 11-7, 11-7)