Preview: Samoa v Russia
WORLD CUP POOL MATCH: When Russia and Samoa take to the field on Tuesday it will be the first time these two teams meet.
For Samoa, this is their first match at the tournament. The Pacific Islanders start the chase for a first Rugby World Cup quarter-final appearance since 1995.
Samoa coach Steve Jackson has selected eight World Cup debutants for Tuesday’s showdown.
“It’s a huge opportunity for us,” said New Zealander Jackson.
“What is a better stage to put Samoan rugby back on the map than at a Rugby World Cup?
“We are here to make our own legacy. We want people to remember the Samoan team at this Rugby World Cup as we have done in 1991 and 1995 with those teams that have reached the quarter-final and done extremely well.”
Russia will be a handful, after their shocked Japan with the fastest RWC opening-match try in the fifth minute of their first Pool A match on Friday
The host nation came back to win 30-10, but Jackson was impressed by the strong Russian start.
“I think they’ve got a good kicking game,” Jackson said.
“They’ve got a big pack but they don’t rely on that, they rely on the set pieces that they carry hard, and they play with passion. This is not just a rugby team, this is their country and we are just the same, we play with passion and it’ll be an exciting match.”
Russia, ranked 20th in the world, hope to bring back their kicking game against Samoa, who are four places higher in the rankings.
“The game will be tougher than against Japan,” said Kirill Golosnitskiy, who scored Russia’s record-breaking and only try in the opener.
“We should stick to the same tactics, play a more kicking game and expect errors from opponents.”
The Bears’ Welsh coach Lyn Jones has selected the same starting XV as in the opening match. Ten of the players who started as Samoa lost 34-15 to Australia in their last match, feature again. Dwayne Polataivao was on the bench then but earned his spot as scrum-half after he came on to score two tries in the second half against the Wallabies. Since his Manu Samoa debut in 2016, however, Polataivao has never been on a winning side outside the country’s capital of Apia.
Eight of Samoa’s starters are making their World Cup debuts, including prop Mike Alaalatoa who only has one previous cap to his name, and Chris Vui, who has taken over as match-day captain because of injury to Jack Lam.
“A lot of players in this team are good leaders but it is obviously a huge honour for me to be captain in our first game,” said Vui.
“I got a photo sent to me two days ago, when the World Cup started, of me at the World Cup in 2011. I wasn’t playing rugby at all and I was just hanging out with my cousin. It was in New Zealand but I wasn’t even thinking about rugby. Now I’m at the World Cup and it’s a big honour.”
At the same time, Samoa’s most experienced player, Tusi Pisi, above, starts his third World Cup campaign. At 37 years and 268 days the fly-half surpasses Peter Fatialofa (36 years 45 days) as the oldest Samoa player at a World Cup. He is also 10 points from overtaking Silao Laega as the Pacific Island nation’s leading RWC points scorer.
Both teams will be hoping to improve their recent World Cup results. Samoa have lost their past seven encounters against European teams and Russia have been beaten in all their five matches at the World Cup.
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For Samoa: In their last warm-up match against Australia, a 34-15 defeat, Samoa had problems with the lineouts. Having flank Chris Vui back as captain should add more stability against Russia. Fullback Tim Nanai-Williams is also one to cause havoc from the back.
For Russia: Captain Vasily Artemyev is one of the players to looks out for. Flyhalf Yury Kushnarev, who makes a team record-extending 111th career appearance for the Bears, needs to be in fine form. Sale Sharks prop Valery Morozov and Grenoble lock Andrey Ostrikov are the foreign-based players that could help the side.
Head to head: The two teams know very little of each other. It is going to be interesting to see how Tim Nanai-Williams fair against Russia’s captain Vasily Artemyev. The set-piece will be vital Kane Le’aupepe, Teofilo Paulo, Michael Alaalatoa, Motu Matu’u and Logovii Mulipola against Russia’s Bogdan Fedotko, Andrey Ostrikov, Kirill Gotovtsev, Stanislav Selskii and Valery Morozov.
Prediction: A very intriguing encounter and Russia will put up a valiant effort however Samoa will take this by 10 points or more.
📸 Masha Anderson pic.twitter.com/Ry3aPe8qBm
— Rugby Union Russia (@russiarugby) September 23, 2019
Samoa: 15 Tim Nanai-Williams, 14 Ah See Tuala, 13 Alapati Leiua, 12 Rey Lee-Lo, 11 Ed Fidow, 10 Tusi Pisi, 9 Dwayne Polataivao, 8 Afaesetiti Amosa, 7 Thomas Ioane, 6 Chris Vui (captain), 5 Kane Le’aupepe, 4 Teofilo Paulo, 3 Michael Alaalatoa, 2 Motu Matu’u, 1 Logovii Mulipola.
Replacements: 16 Ray Niuia, 17 Paul Alo-Emile, 18 Jordan Lay, 19 Senio Toleafoa, 20 Josh Tyrell, 21 Melani Matavao, 22 AJ Alatimu, 23 Henry Taefu.
Russia: 15 Vasily Artemyev (captain), 14 German Davydov, 13 Vladimir Ostroushko, 12 Dmitry Gerasimov, 11 Kirill Golosnitskiy, 10 Yury Kushnarev, 9 Vasily Dorofeev, 8 Nikita Vavilin, 7 Tagir Gadzhiev, 6 Vitaly Zhivatov, 5 Bogdan Fedotko, 4 Andrey Ostrikov, 3 Kirill Gotovtsev, 2 Stanislav Selskii, 1 Valery Morozov.
Replacements: 16 Evgeny Matveev, 17 Andrei Polivalov, 18 Azamat Bitiev, 19 Andrey Garbuzov, 20 Anton Sychev, 21 Dmitry Perov, 22 Ramil Gaisin, 23 Vladislav Sozonov.
Date: Tuesday, September 24
Venue: Kumagaya Rugby Stadium, Saitama Prefecture, Kumagaya City
Kick-off: 19.15 (23.15 Samoan time; 13.15 Moscow time; 10.15 GMT)
Referee: Romain Poite (France)
Assistant referees: Jérôme Garcès (France), Brendon Pickerill (New Zealand)
TMO: Graham Hughes (England)