Samoa, Canada Open Rugby World Cup Campaigns With Wins; Scots Beat Georgia
Dan Parks scored all of Scotland’s points as the team struggled to defeat Georgia 15-6 in a Rugby World Cup pool game. Samoa opened its campaign by beating Namibia 49-12 as Canada rallied to defeat Tonga 25-20.
Parks had four penalties and a drop goal in the Pool B match in rainy Invercargill, New Zealand. It was the first tryless game in the tournament, and the sixth in Rugby World Cup history. Merab Kvirikashvili scored two penalties for Georgia.
Scotland had more than half of the possession in the game, but had 11 handling errors to Georgia’s 5 as downpours made passing difficult.
“We could blame the conditions but actually I’m disappointed we couldn’t hold on to the ball more,” Scotland coach Andy Robinson said. “We were not accurate and that’s why it became close.”
In Pool D, Samoa’s 267-pound winger, Alesana Tuilagi, became the first player to score a hat trick for the team at the four-yearly championship as the 10th-ranked Samoans outscored Namibia by six tries to two in Rotorua.
“We’ve been waiting the whole week, we’ve been watching a lot of rugby the last couple of days and the boys were pretty itchy to get out there,” Samoa captain Mahonri Schwalger said in a televised interview. “I’m pleased with the way the boys performed but we’ve still got more room to improve.”
Two-time quarterfinalist Samoa joined Fiji atop Pool D, which includes defending champion South Africa and sixth-ranked Wales, with five points after collecting a bonus point for scoring at least four tries. Namibia is in last place after losing 49-25 to the Fijians in its opening match.
Canada got two tries in the last 13 minutes in Whangarei to beat a Tonga team rated two spots above it in the International Rugby Board’s rankings. Winger Phil Mackenzie scored the match- winner in the 73rd-minute and James Pritchard converted to preserve Canada’s 100 percent World Cup record against Tonga.
“I’m so proud of the boys in the way they played and the guts they showed,” Canada captain Pat Riordan said in a televised interview. “That was awesome.”
Russia is the only one of the 20 teams in the tournament not to have played at least one match. The Bears face the U.S. in their tournament debut tomorrow.
Samoa’s Tuilagi got three tries at Rotorua International Stadium after scrum-half Kahn Fotuali’i grabbed the fastest try of the tournament on 49 seconds. After Tuilagi sprinted over for his third in the 53rd minute, full-back Paul Williams sliced through Namibia’s defense and converted his try to make it 42-0.
Namibia’s Danie van Wyk touched down to make it 42-5 before Samoa was awarded a penalty try when Namibia illegally stopped an attempted pushover. Williams converted to take his personal haul to 14 points before Namibia fly-half Theuns Kotze scored and converted a try to complete the scoring and move atop the tournament’s points-scoring list.
“It’s a good way to start the tournament,” Williams said in comments distributed by tournament organizers. “This is our moment. All hands on deck.”
Canada handed Tonga, which lost to the All Blacks in the opening game last week, its second loss in five days after coming back from 20-13 down with 13 minutes remaining at the Northland Events Centre, the tournament’s most northerly venue.
No. 8 Aaron Carpenter powered over for a 67th minute try to get the 14th-ranked Canadians within two points. Six minutes later, Mackenzie picked the ball up off the back of a ruck and sped through a gap to seal Canada’s third victory over Tonga in as many World Cup meetings.
A try in each half from center Siale Piutau had helped Tonga take a seven-point lead after Canada, which made 100 tackles in the match to 74 from Tonga, had gone 10-0 up through a Jebb Sinclair converted try and James Pritchard penalty. Pritchard finished with 10 points.
“They just gutted it out so well in the second half to come back,” Canada coach Kieran Crowley said. “We had to make a hell of a lot of tackles and that takes it out of you.”
In Pool C, Ireland hooker Jerry Flannery is set to miss the rest of the tournament after tearing his left calf in training. He’ll be out for four to six weeks, the Irish Rugby Football Union said in a statement.
Sean Cronin will move on to the replacements bench for the match with table-topping Australia in three days. Damien Varley of Munster has been called into the squad.
Ireland beat the U.S. 22-10 in its opening game and Australia defeated Italy 32-6. The tournament final is on Oct 23.
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