Rotorua - Powerhouse wing Alesani Tuilagi claimed a hattrick of tries as
Samoa crunched Namibia 49-12 to spectacularly launch their World Cup
campaign at Rotorua on Wednesday.
The menacing Leicester Tigers wing gave a Jonah Lomu-like performance to headline Samoa's explosive opening to the tournament.
The Samoans clocked up six tries to two and the fastest first try of the tournament against the outgunned Africans.
thousands of Samoan supporters in the 13 000 crowd lapped it up in the
hot springs resort town, roaring and howling with delight as their team
ripped in with typical gusto.
But the Samoan victory came at a
cost with the loss through injury of goalkicking flyhalf Tusi Pisi and
flank Taiasina Tuifua with just a four-day turnaround to their
all-important Pool D game with Wales in Hamilton.
"We had been waiting the whole week and the boys were itchy to get out there," said Samoa skipper Mahonri Schwalger.
still got some room for improvement and we are looking forward to Wales
next week. We got a few injuries and hopefully they are not going to be
Namibia counterpart Jacques Burger said: "They hit you
hard and are a classy team and if you make mistakes against them they
are going to punish you and they did today."
Samoa are in arguably
the toughest pool at the World Cup - with South Africa, Wales, Fiji
and Namibia - where at least four teams boast credentials worthy of
filling one of the two quarter-final berths.
Samoa made the rugby
world sit up and take notice when they scored four tries in humbling the
Aussies 32-23 in Sydney, just prior to the Wallabies becoming
Tri-Nations champions for the first time in a decade.
rocked Namibia in the the opening 47 seconds when scrumhalf Kahn
Fotuali'i fielded a high kick and proceeded to swat off two tacklers to
score the fastest try so far at the World Cup.
Pisi kicked the
conversion and a penalty to have Samoa 10-0 ahead against the
shellshocked Namibians in the opening nine minutes.
wing Tuilaga crossed for his first try eight minutes later storming on
to a great George Stowers pass and barrelling his way over.
was in immaculate goalkicking form and landed the conversion from wide
out and added his second penalty to have Samoa steaming to a 20-0 lead.
But disaster struck for Samoa in the 28th minute when they lost Pisi and Tuifua with injuries.
injured his left hamstring and Tuifua had damaged ribs and it
temporarily threw Samoa out of their stride in the reshuffling of
Tuilagi powered over for his second try five minutes before half-time to swell Samoa's advantage to 25-0.
had fullback Paul Williams yellow carded in the final minute after
crunching high tackle on Theune Kotze which provoked a push and shove
between the players.
Key backs Seilala Mapusua and Fotuali'i were
brought off after 50 minutes uninjured to save them for Sunday's big
match with Wales.
Williams back from the sin bin kicked Samoa into a 28-0 lead with a penalty minutes later.
completed his hattrick - for his 15th try in 23 internationals -
after a smart break from replacement centre Eliota Sapolu Fuimaono to
Williams stepped past two tackles to push Samoa past 40
before Namibia got their first points in the 63rd minute when centre
Danie van Wyk raced 35m to finish off a neat chip and regather from
The Samoan scrum claimed a penalty try when they had the Namibians back-pedalling nine minutes from time.
Namibia, who remain winless after 13 matches at the World Cup, showed
great heart and had the final say with flyhalf Theuns Kotze scoring
under the crossbar two minutes from time.