Tuilagi, Samoa trample Namibia at Rugby World Cup
Samoa made its delayed start to the Rugby World Cup worth waiting for, with an impressive 49-12 win over Namibia in Rotorua, New Zealand, on Wednesday.
The Samoans, the 17th of the 20 teams to play, posted the first of their six tries in just the first minute, and were at point-a-minute pace through the first quarter at Rotorua International Stadium.
Just four days after Namibia gave up four tries to Fiji winger Vereniki Goneva, Samoa star Alesana Tuilagi scored three and had another rubbed out. Kahn Fotuali'i and Paul Williams, after time in the sin-bin, added tries while the pack was rewarded for a relentless effort with a penalty try against a six-man Namibia scrum.
"We've been watching a lot of rugby the past couple of days, the boys were pretty edgy to get out there," Samoa captain Mahonri Schwalger said. "I was pretty happy with the way the boys played today.
We've still got a lot of rugby to improve, so we're looking forward to Wales."
This was the same Samoa side which shocked Australia in July, but it was disrupted by first-half injuries to flyhalf Tusi Pisi, who had kicked four goals, and flanker Taiasina Tuifua. Both are in doubt for the big Pool D match against Wales on Sunday in Hamilton.
Namibia feared its largely amateur players would struggle to give two top performances in four days against two of rugby's most bruising national teams, but the tournament's lowest-ranked side gave another good account against the odds to notch second-half tries to backs Danie Van Wyk and Theuns Kotze.
"We were not going to outskill a team like Samoa, we were not going to outpace them, but we can out-work them," Namibia captain Jacques Burger said. "We made a lot of mistakes, but we showed a lot of heart at the end.
"You can see the guys wanted to come back and they fought hard and I'm very proud of my team."
Namibia made the worst possible start, when an attempted clearance kick into the wind hung in the air and was caught on the run in front of the grandstand by Fotuali'i. The scrumhalf shrugged off a high tackle and bowled through a low one to scamper 30 metres to the line barely a minute into the game.
Pisi added the conversion from the touchline, then a penalty in the 10th to make it 10-0.
Namibia then enjoyed being on top, but conceded ruck ball in front of the Samoa posts and lost a lineout throw in its own half, which ended with Tuilagi receiving an overlap pass from Tuifua to cross untouched in the 18th.
Pisi converted, added a penalty and it was 20-0 in as many minutes.
Pisi then blew a certain try when he was 10 steps from the right corner flag. Instead of carrying on, he cut inside and hurt his left leg when he was swallowed up. He had to be replaced by Tasesa Lavea. Tuifua also came off cradling his left arm.
The changes slowed things down, a little. From a free kick, snappy handling by No. 8 George Stowers and Lavea put the ball in the hands of Tuilagi, who crashed through three defenders in the left corner for his second try.
Williams couldn't convert, and neither could the fullback tackle. He was sin-binned just before the break for a shoulder tackle on Kotze which dropped the Namibia flyhalf like a stone and caused a brief all-in melee.
The only question at halftime was how Samoa would fare playing into the wind. It fared fine.
A Faasavalu break and Tuilagi "try" were dismissed, but Williams came out of the sin-bin in time to land a penalty. Tuilagi didn't have to wait long for his third try, with another poor Namibia clearance kick ending with the ball in his hands crossing the line.
Another Faasavalu breakout saw Williams jink through to near the posts and he converted his own try for 42-0.
Namibia replied in style. A catch off his own chip by left winger Llewellyn Winkler set up Van Wyk, then Namibia's second try saw Kotze stretch out between the posts.
But in between, Namibia flanker Rohan Kitshoff was yellow-carded, and his short-handed scrum gave up the penalty try to Samoa.
Namibia next plays big neighbour South Africa in Auckland on Sept. 22.