The Islanders turn the screw in the second half to win 43-10 in Bordeaux
Another lively crowd in Bordeaux saw Samoa power to victory over Chile to get their Rugby World Cup up and running. A five-try win against the lowly-ranked Chileans brought a precious bonus point – an outcome demanded of them if they are to have any chance of progressing from Pool D.
Head coach Seilala Mapusua’s side didn’t have it easy, trailing Chile after 30 minutes and looking disjointed. But four tries in 12 minutes either side of half-time took them out of sight of a Chile side that couldn’t stop leaking penalties.
The narrative of the World Cup has surrounded high tackles and what constitutes a challenge worthy of a red card or yellow card or mere penalty. Happily, no one was permanently banished by referee Paul Williams but the match did see four men spend time in the sin-bin.
Chile’s Alfonso Escobar can have no complaints after a shoulder-to-head challenge. But fans will have been justly mystified by the yellow issued to replacement Samoa scrum-half Ereatara Enari for a ruck clearout. You can judge for yourself.
The incident was brought to Williams’s attention by TMO Brett Cronan and brought scathing criticism on social media. “Utterly, utterly ridiculous,” read one comment.
When Chile prop Esteban Inostroza was carded within a minute of entering the fray, banging a water bottle on his head in frustration, the match had become 14 v 13.
The first half failed to do justice to the noise and passion emanating from the stands. It was a scrappy affair notable for injury breaks and reset scrums.
It did, however, get off to a dramatic start as Chile half-backs Rodrigo Fernandez and Marcelo Torrealba carved Samoa apart and from the ensuing ruck, tighthead Matias Dittus plunged over for the opening try. Santiago Videla converted.
Christian Leali’ifano had already netted the first points from the boot. And the former Wallaby – Australia’s top scorer at Japan 2019 – kicked three further penalties as Chile conceded a string of penalties, a number of them for offside.
It represented a healthy return for Samoa, who had to manage a ten-minute period without Ulupano Seuteni. The centre was given a yellow card for a late tackle on Domingo Saavedra, who later turned the tables with a thumping low hit on Leali’ifano. The best tackle of the day.
Chile, with the energetic Torrealba calling the shots, were right in it. They nudged ahead on the half-hour with a penalty by Matias Garafulic, Videla having gone off injured.
The South Americans would doubtless have felt aggrieved to go in nine points down after a try on half-time. It began with a scrum deep in Samoan territory. Centre Tumua Manu eased a perfectly weighted grubber kick through the onrushing line for Seuteni to collect. The 13 fed Duncan Paia’aua and the full-back stretched his legs to score stylishly in the corner.
Leali’ifano converted from the touchline for a 19-10 lead at the break.
If Chile were sensing a famous upset they were soon disavailed of that notion as Samoa flicked the switch. A beautiful wrap-around training ground move saw Dan McFarland offload for scrum-half Jonathan Taumateine to score. Then back-row Fritz Lee and hooker Sama Malolo got on the board from powerful driving mauls.
At 36-10, the match was gone for Chile, whose coach Pablo Lemoine didn’t hide his dismay.
So began the rash of yellow cards in a stop-start contest that even included the referee losing his communications.
Malolo scored his second try from another drive in the final minute.
Samoa have played only 11 Tests since the 2019 World Cup, and only two against Tier One nations – Italy last year and Ireland last month. Their lack of cohesion was evident but they will get stronger with each match at this tournament. Are they a threat to England and Argentina in this pool? They certainly need to be treated with maximum respect.
Chile’s problems revolve around ill-discipline and conditioning. Not that we have a right to expect any different from a side desperately trying to come up to speed against the biggest rugby nations. As last weekend, they lost by around 30 points but there is no denying their courage and attacking acumen. They have won hearts and minds in France.
Samoa Duncan Paia’aua; Danny Toala, Ulupano Junior Seuteni, Tumua Manu, Nigel Ah-Wong; Christian Leali’ifano, Jonathan Taumateine; James Lay, Seilala Lam, Michael Alaalatoa (capt), Chris Vui, Theo McFarland, Taleni Junior Agaese Seu, Fritz Lee, Steven Luatua.
Replacements 16 Sama Malolo, 17 Jordan Lay, 18 Paul Alo-Emile, 19 Sam Slade, 20 Sa Jordan Taufua, 21 Ereatara Enari, 22 Lima Sopoaga, 23 Ed Fidow.
Chile Inaki Ayarza; Santiago Videla, Domingo Saavedra, Matias Garafulic, José Ignacio Larenas; Rodrigo Fernandez, Marcelo Torrealba; Javier Carrasco, Tomas Dussaillant, Matias Dittus, Pablo Huete, Santiago Pedrero, Martín Sigren (capt), Clemente Saavedra, Raimundo Martínez.
Replacements 16 Diego Escobar, 17 Salvador Lues, 18 Esteban Inostroza, 19 Javier Eissmann, 20 Alfonso Escobar, 21 Ignacio Silva, 22 Benjamin Videla, 23 Pablo Casas.
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