Johnson finally has something to smile about
With 20 minutes remaining at Otago Stadium, some poor unfortunate decided it would be a grand idea to stamp his authority on the game.
The pitch intruder in question may live to regret his moment in the sun - you can get three months' porridge in this part of the world for that kind of behaviour - but he did achieve the almost impossible and get a smile out of Martin Johnson.
A few minutes later, when Chris Ashton went over for his hat-trick, the England manager's shoulders were fairly rolling. "I always look pretty angry," said Johnson at Thursday's pre-match media conference, "even on a good day." So those rolling shoulders spoke volumes.
Chris Ashton and Mark Cueto celebrate after both scored hat-tricks against Romania. Picture: Getty
However, Johnson was not about to get too carried away.
"You get hyped up [by the press], you get knocked down," said Johnson after the game. "Things get sensationalised - but often the truth lies somewhere in the middle."
And so it was on Saturday: at the end of a week when many of international rugby's puffed-up minnows became deflated again, England ran in 10 tries and gave a much-improved display - albeit against a largely second-string Romania.
The most heartening aspect of England's victory was the fluency and the accuracy, especially from England's back-line.
Centre Manu Tuilagi did what he does best, running angles and barrelling through tackles, while Northampton wing Ashton, seemingly never at home on the right wing, snapped and crackled and was so pumped up he looked ready to pop.
Mark Cueto, meanwhile, scored more tries in 12 first-half minutes than he had in his previous 28 internationals - what you might call a rust-busting performance.
With Jonny Wilkinson getting his midfield playing on the gain line with some perfectly-pitched flat passes, much of England's back-play before the break was crisp and clinical. Support runners on shoulders, linking between backs and forwards, knowing when to take it to ground or when to offload, retention of the ball - realism allied with adventure.
The breakdown, an area of much concern in England's first two games against Argentina and Georgia, was also improved, creating a platform for attacking waves. Skipper Lewis Moody, England's man of glass, looked almost back to full fitness, while his fellow back-rowers, James Haskell and Tom Croft, also showed well in the loose.
If last week, against Georgia, England looked like a side still shrouded in scaffolding, perhaps this was the week when the scaffolding started to be removed. And not a moment too soon. "We tried to start next week at half-time," said Johnson. "That's when [this World Cup] really starts in a way, against Scotland. We'll see what happens on Sunday [when Scotland play Argentina in Wellington] - hopefully it's an incredibly physical game."
While Johnson declared himself happy with his side's improved discipline, England still managed to leak 12 penalties, and with a kicker of the quality of Chris Paterson in the Scotland line-up, that is a few too many. And against the Scots, a few too many penalties could condemn England to a quarter-final clash against New Zealand in Auckland.
As I wrote this blog, the All Blacks were demonstrating exactly how big the difference between finishing first or second in Pool B could prove. While England appear to be heading in the right direction, the gap in class between Johnson's men and the hosts looks to be an insurmountable one.
Against Marc Lievremont's flaky French, however, England would stand much more than a fighting chance of reaching the semi-finals.
So credit where credit is due - England needed to raise their game against Romania and they did so. And while not exactly giggling himself to sleep tonight, perhaps Johnson will lie back, reflect on a deeply frustrating few weeks and come over all Churchillian: now is not the end, it is not even the beginning of the end, but it is, perhaps, the end of the beginning.