Samoa kicked off their Rugby World Cup campaign with a resounding 43-10 victory over Chile in a Pool D clash held at the Stade de Bordeaux.
Despite a yellow card for outside-center Ulupano Junior Seuteni and a try from Chile’s prop Matias Dittus, Samoa led 19-10 at halftime, courtesy of four penalties by former Australian fly-half Christian Leali’ifano and a try from full-back Duncan Paia’aua.
Samoa continued their dominance in the second half, scoring three tries, two of which came from a driving maul, and another from scrum-half Jonathan Taumateine. The game saw its fair share of yellow cards, with Chile’s replacement second-row Alfonso Escobar and replacement prop Esteban Inostroza, as well as Samoa’s replacement scrum-half Ereatara Enari, all spending time in the sin-bin. Replacement prop Sama Malolo sealed the victory with his second try just before the final whistle.
“The first half was a bit sloppy, but in the second half, the boys really stepped up, and we’re delighted to come away with a win,” commented Theo McFarland, named Mastercard Player of the Match. “It’s always an honor to represent Samoa.”
Chile’s captain, Martin Sigren, expressed his excitement about the enthusiastic support in Bordeaux, saying, “I feel so alive being in the midst of all this, with this amazing Chilean crowd cheering you on. I’ve got my family here as well, so it’s incredibly special. It was a really tough game. In the first half, we had high hopes. We genuinely believed we could pull it off. They maintained their pace in the second half, and it was challenging to keep up.”
Samoa’s captain, Michael Alaalatoa, acknowledged the strong start from Chile, saying, “The first half was just as we expected; we knew Chile would come out strong. After last week’s game, we knew how physical their forwards could be, and they lived up to that in the first half. Judging by the support here, it feels like all of Chile has flown over, which is fantastic; it’s what you want.”
Chile’s head coach, Pablo Lemoine, highlighted the positive transformation in Chilean rugby, stating, “We anticipated a great game. We missed some opportunities, but there’s no doubt that Chilean rugby has evolved, and that’s a positive.”
Samoa’s head coach, Seilala Mapusua, expressed his satisfaction with the campaign’s start, saying, “It’s fantastic to kick off our campaign. There’s a lot we can take away from this game, and we’ll review it thoroughly. Credit to Chile; they really challenged us today and applied pressure, which is precisely what we needed.”
When asked about the inspiration for his team’s second-half performance, Mapusua added, “Perhaps a few words exchanged [at halftime] that I can’t share on live TV, all about trusting our structures and processes and executing our combinations. It was great to see the boys come out and deliver.”