Tuilagi hat-trick seals deal for Samoa
Powerhouse winger Alesani Tuilagi claimed a hat-trick of tries as Samoa crunched Namibia 49-12 to spectacularly launch their 2011 World Cup campaign in Rotorua on Wednesday.
The menacing Leicester Tigers strongman 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 team from the South-West corner of Africa.
The 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 goal-kicking 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.
"We 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 serious."
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 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.
The Samoans rocked Namibia in 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.
Explosive wing Tuilagi crossed for his first try eight minutes later storming on to a great George Stowers pass and barrelling his way over.
Pisi 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.
Pisi injured his left hamstring and Tuifua had damaged ribs and it temporarily threw Samoa out of their stride in the reshuffling of replacements.
Tuilagi powered over for his second try five minutes before half-time to swell Samoa's advantage to 25-0.
Samoa had fullback Paul Williams yellow carded in the final minute after crunching high tackle on Theuns 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.
Tuilagi completed his hat-trick - for his 15th try in 23 internationals - after a smart break from replacement centre Eliota Sapolu Fuimaono to lead 35-0.
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 35 metres to finish off a neat chip and regather from Llewellyn Winkler.
The Samoan scrum claimed a penalty try when they had the Namibians back-pedalling nine minutes from time.
But 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.
Man of the Match: You could go for Samoan wing Alesana Tuilagi and his hat-trick, but we feel this one must go to brave Namibian captain Jacques Burger - who for most part seemed to be fighting a lone battle against the blue Samoan wave.
Moment of the Match: It goes to the penalty try in the 70th min - it summed up Samoa's dominance.
Villain of the Match: Our award goes to Samoan fullback Paul Williams, who was yellow-carded for a typical Samoan high hit - an action that was far more cynical than what Namibian flank Rohan Kitshoff did (repeated infringements at the breakdown) to earn his stint in the sin bin.
Tries: Fotuali'i, Tuilagi 3, Williams, Penalty try
Cons: Pisi 2, Williams 3
Pens: Pisi 2, Williams
Tries: Van Wyk, Kotze
Yellow card(s): Paul Williams (Samoa, 40 - foul play, dangerous tackle), Rohan Kitshoff (Namibia, 66 - repeated infringements at the breakdown).
Samoa: 15 Paul Williams, 14 Sailosi Tagicakibau, 13 George Pisi, 12 Seilala Mapusua, 11 Alesana Tuilagi, 10 Tusi Pisi, 9 Kahn Fotuali'i, 8 George Stowers, 7 Maurie Fa'asavalu, 6 Taiasina Tuifua, 5 Kane Thompson, 4 Daniel Leo, 3 Anthony Perenise, 2 Mahonri Schwalger (captain), 1 Sakaria Taulafo.
Replacements: 16 Ti'i Paulo, 17 Census Johnston, 18 Joe Tekori, 19 Ofisa Treviranus, 20 Junior Poluleuligaga, 21 Eliota Sapolu Fuimaono, 22 Tasesa Lavea.
Namibia: 15 Chrysander Botha, 14 Danie Dames, 13 Danie van Wyk, 12 Piet van Zyl, 11 Llewellyn Winkler, 10 Theuns Kotze, 9 Eugene Jantjies, 8 Pieter Jan van Lill, 7 Jacques Burger (captain), 6 Rohan Kitshoff, 5 Henk Franken, 4 Heinz Koll, 3 Raoul Larson, 2 Hugo Horn, 1 Johnnie Redelinghuys.
Replacements: 16 Bertus O'Callaghan, 17 Jane du Toit, 18 Nico Esterhuyse, 19 Renaud van Neel, 20 Ryan de la Harpe, 21 Darryl de la Harpe, 22 TC Losper.
AFP & rugby365.com