Samoa eventually dominated this match in Kumagaya, amidst refereeing controversy

2019 Rugby World Cup: Russia 9-34 Samoa

Head-to-head

Played – 1

Samoa wins – 1

Russia wins – 0

Did You Know?

  • Vasily Artemyev, Vladimir Ostroushko and Andrey Garbuzov have appeared in all five of Russia’s Rugby World Cup matches to date – four in 2011 and then Friday’s match against Russia.
  • At 37 years and 268 days, Tusi Pisi became the oldest Samoan to play at a Rugby World Cup when he took the field against Russia, surpassing Peter Fatialofa’s previous record of 36 years and 45 days.

Related: Rugby World Cup Fixtures

In a nutshell

The choice to give yellow cards rather than reds for high tackles will dominate the discussions after a game Samoa eventually ran away with.

On the day that World Rugby issued a statement saying that match officials in the opening rounds “were not consistently of the standards set by World Rugby and themselves”, Romain Poite found himself in the centre of a referee’s nightmare.

What could have been had Poite given red cards to sledgehammer Samoans Rey Lee-Lo and Motu Matu’u in the first half?

In the first instance, Poite was discussing with his officiating team that the law framework suggested he should give a red for Lee-Lo’s thump into Vasily Artemyev – before an intervention from TMO Graham Hughes made Poite consider a slight dip as a “mitigating circumstance”. He gave a yellow.

In the next instance, despite a head-on-head collision meaning Motu’u would not come back on due to concussion, he still only gave a yellow to the Samoan hooker for his high shot.

The Samoans had scored after quarter of an hour through Alapati Leiua but they had slipped behind by a point to 6-5, following two Yuri Kushnarev penalties. Then the illegal hits started thundering in.

Russia were wasteful with their two-man advantage, though, and half-time came with the score unchanged. To make matters worst, after the break Samoa scored through Afaesetiti Amosa (who then went off injured) while prop Kirill Gotovtsev also saw yellow for grabbing at the No 8’s neck – which will be discussed as a potential red card too!

Kushnarev got a drop-goal to his name but, injury aside, Samoa made the most of their good fortune. They began to open up against the tiring Russians while they were a man down.

Ed Fidow found space and romped in for two scores and that man Lee-Lo got a five-pointer to his name too. Samoa had secured a bonus-point win in a match that could have been so different, while Russia exhausted themselves looking in vain for a try that would not come.

As Leiua romped home for his second score at the very end, the Russians looked shattered.

Related: What is the TMO?

Star man

The Samoan back three always looked a handful, and Leiua bookended the game with big scores and finished with 163m with ball in hand and ten defenders beaten.

Fidow on the other wing stood out too as he gobbled up scoring opportunities in Gotovtsev’s absence.

Sure Samoa were lucky to have a full contingent in the second half, but when the game opened up they were greedy – they had made 466m with ball in hand before Lieu galloped in for a second score at the death.

In opposition, Tagir Gadzhiev was once again tigerish in contact and centre Vladimir Ostroushko had the calm head this Bears side needs. But they were left grasping air by the end.

2019 Rugby World Cup: Russia v Samoa

Holding on: Tagir Gadzhiev in defence (Getty Images)

The Teams

Russia: Vasily Artemyev (capt); German Davydov, Vladimir Ostroushko, Dmitry Gerasimov (Vladislav Sozonov 64), Kirill Golosnitskiy; Yury Kushnarev (Ramil Gaisin 54), Vasily Dorofeev (Dmitry Perov 54); Valery Morozov (Andrei Polivalov 59), Stanislav Selskii (Evgeny Matveev 56), Kirill Gotovtsev (Azamat Bitiev 71), Andrey Ostrikov (Andrey Garbuzov 65), Bogdan Fedotko, Vitaly Zhivatov, Tagir Gadzhiev, Nikita Vavilin (Anton Sychev 54).

Pen: Kushnarev 19, 25. Drop-goal: Kushnarev 48.

Yellow card: Gotovtsev 44.

Samoa: Tim Nanai-Williams (Ulupano Seuteni 64); Alapati Leiua, Rey Lee-Lo, Henry Taefu, Ed Fidow; Tusi Pisi (AJ Alatimu 65), Dwayne Polataivao (Melani Matavao 40); Logovii Mulipola (Jordan Lay 50), Motu Matu’u (Ray Niuia 31), Michael Alaalatoa (Paul Alo-Emile 55), Teofilo Paulo (Senio Toleafoa 64), Kane Le’aupepe, Chris Vui (capt), TJ Ioane, Afaesetiti Amosa (Josh Tyrell 45).

Tries: Leiua 16, 79, Amosa 44, Fidow 49, 53, Lee-lo 63. Con: Pisi 50, 53.

Yellow cards: Lee-Lo 28, Matu’u 29.

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