BORDEAUX, France (AP) — Samoa started its Rugby World Cup campaign by slowly but surely overwhelming debutant Chile 43-10 in a game drawn out by penalties and referrals on Saturday.
After conceding an early try and leading only 19-10 at the interval, Samoa pulled away after the break with three tries from rolling mauls.
Samoa's tries went to fullback Duncan Paia’aua right on the first-half buzzer. Blond-mulleted scrumhalf Jonathan Taumateine, flanker Fritz Lee and hooker Sama Malolo, twice, all dotted down in the second half.
Chile, as it did in its World Cup match against Japan, led early thanks to a sixth-minute try by prop Matias Dittus.
Former Australia international Christian Leali’ifano started at flyhalf for Samoa and kicked 16 points, having top-scored for the Wallabies at the 2019 tournament. Leali’ifano qualified for Samoa on ancestry and switched last year thanks to the international eligibility law change.
He put Samoa ahead with his first of four penalty kicks but Chile caught Samoa napping in defense. Flyhalf Rodrigo Fernandez sold a dummy and break with support from scrumhalf Marcelo Torrealba. The forwards hammered the line and Dittus burrowed over. Santiago Videla expertly converted from wide left.
Another consequence for Samoa was a yellow card for center Ulupano Seuteni, who late-tackled the dummy runner. But Chile did not make the most of the extra man, and Samoa moved 9-7 ahead with two more penalties from Leali’ifano.
With Videla off injured, Matias Garafulic took over the kicking duties and put Los Cóndores ahead 10-9 after 30 minutes.
Only briefly though, because Chile gave away its eighth penalty and Leali’ifano booted Samoa back in front, then converted Paia’aua‘s try on the stroke of halftime. Tumua Manu grubber- kicked, Seuteni picked up and Paia’aua raced clear.
The 19-10 scoreline flattered Samoa at halftime, but with first-game nerves settled and breathing room on the scoreboard, it took control in the second half as Chile's discipline deteriorated.
A charge by lock Theo McFarland finished with Taumateine leaping for the line in the 42nd.
A few minutes later, Lee was driven over from a lineout maul to make it 29-10. Leali’ifano hit the right post with his conversion attempt, but converted the bonus-point fourth try in the 52nd when replacement hooker Malolo scored following another lineout maul.
Yellow cards marked play for the next 20 minutes. Chile flanker Alfonso Escobar was sin-binned for a shoulder into Lee’s face, then Samoa replacement scrumhalf Ereatara Enari was sin-binned for injuring a jackalling Diego Escobar by falling on him.
Referee Paul Williams got the yellow out for a fourth time when he sin-binned replacement prop Esteban Inostroza, who'd only just come on. Inostroza whacked his head with a plastic water bottle when he sat down.
Samoa's maul gave Malolo an easy second try and Samoa's fifth in the closing seconds, converted by former New Zealand flyhalf Lima Sopoaga.
South American rugby continues to impress at this tournament, after Uruguay's battling performance against France and Chile's rousing debut against Japan. Chile and Uruguay lost those matches but won new fans.
Next up for Samoa is Argentina next Friday, while Chile faces 2003 champion England the next day.
AP rugby: https://apnews.com/hub/rugby