Samoan success marred by injuries
September 14, 2011
Samoa scrum-half Kahn Fotuali'i celebrates his early try against Namibia
© Getty Images
Samoa kicked off their Rugby World Cup 2011 campaign with a facile 49-12 win over Namibia in Rotorua but their victory came at a cost as both Tusi Pisiata and Taiasina Tu'ifua were forced off injured during the first half.
The Samoans, who defeat the Wallabies in Sydney in July, enjoyed a dream start, with scrum-half Kahn Fotuali'i touching down after less than 60 seconds of play, and they pulled further clear when imposing Leicester Tigers wing Alesana Tuilagi charged over on 16 minutes.
Their momentum was slowed by the loss of fly-half Pisiata and blindside flanker Tu'ifua to injury midway through the opening period but Tuilagi helped himself to a second try four minutes before the break. Samoa did lose fullback Paul Williams to the sin bin right at the end of the first half for a high tackle but he made amends for his indiscretion by crossing for Samoa's fifth try just moments after Tuilagi had completed his hat-trick to seal the bonus point.
Namibia battled right until the end and were rewarded for their resilience with tries from Danie van Wyk and Theuns Kotze in the final quarter but the game belonged to the Samoans, who also forced a penalty try in the closing stages as they set themselves up nicely for Sunday's crunch clash with Wales. The big question, though, is whether either Pisiata or Tu'ifua will be available for that encounter, with the former departing with a hamstring injury and the latter forced off with rib damage.
The injuries were the one downside for the Samoans after a game in which they wasted little time in making their mark, Fotuali'i, who will join Welsh regional side the Ospreys later this season, sprinting over for a try after just 49 seconds.
Fotuali'i smashed through the attemped tackle of wing Llewellyn Winkler to claim a score that George Pisi converted, and then Tuilagi crossed twice in 18 minutes to underpin a 25-0 interval advantage.
The only blot on Samoa's copybook during the first 40 minutes was the yellow card for fullback Paul Williams. However, the polynesians coped quite comfortably whilst down to 14 and when Williams returned to the fray, he slotted a penalty after taking over the kicking duties from Pisi, while Tuilagi effortlessly completed his hat-trick just five minutes after he saw a try disallowed when touch judge Wayne Barnes called a forward pass.
Williams added the conversion and Samoa had achieved their try-scoring bonus point with 25 minutes of the contest still remaining.
Samoa, spurred by a mighty performance from Harlequins flanker Maurie Fa'asavalu, claimed another score when Williams converted his own try.
And although Namibia centre Van Wyk and fly-half Kotze collected consolation touchdowns, with Kotze landing one conversion, Samoa's relentless scrum pressure had already told as their opponents conceded a penalty try that Williams improved.
Namibia, beaten 49-25 by Fiji in their group opener last weekend, have now conceded 98 points in two games, with matches against Wales and South Africa still to play.
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
Following the passing of Jack Kyle, Huw Richards pays tribute to arguably the finest player Ireland has produced
"When Mike Burton was sent off I thought the world had gone crazy - just Pommy bashing, hitting anyone." Behind the Rose heads back to 1975
The time for tinkering is over - England must nail their colours to the mast in key positions, writes Phil Vickery
"New Zealand-born Joe Schmidt has forged the Irish into a street-smart, well- prepared side," John Mitchell on the Irish renaissance