Discipline ultimately costs Chile as second-half performance sees Samoa surge to 43-10 victory

Samoa burst into life in the second half to open their Pool D account against Chile
©(Photo by Adam Pretty - World Rugby/World Rugby via Getty Images)

First Uruguay on Thursday and then Chile on Saturday.

While hosts France were given a bit of a scare in Lille earlier in the week, it was Samoa who had to battle against another South American outfit before eventually racing clear to open their World Cup campaign with a 43-10 victory.

A superb break from the fleet-footed Rodrigo Fernandez lit the fuse for Chile's only try of the game - which was touched down by Matias Dittus after just six minutes - before Samoa produced a much-needed response through Duncan Paia'aua on the stroke of half-time.

Despite Christian Leali'ifano's accuracy from the tee - the former Wallaby kicking 14 points in the first period - the Pacific Islanders only really clicked into gear after the interval as scores from Jonathan Taumateine, Fritz Lee and Sama Malolo (2) saw Samoa take the game away from Los Cóndores.

The effort from Chile in the first 40 had to be admired but their overall penalty count of 17 proved to be a decisive factor in Bordeaux. 

"We could see a clear difference between the first half and the second half," said Chile captain Martin Sigren. "In the second half, they had other intentions. They started to destroy what we had built and we started to have some doubts. We made too many mistakes and that really cost us the game. Too many individual mistakes have an effect on the whole team. We finally paid the price physically.

"That's what I take from the game - a lack of tactical and technical discipline.

"We were playing against a high-level team, we were really eager to win. The victory has escaped us and it's difficult to endure. We still have two matches to go."

The opening 40 minutes was certainly an advert for why these experiences on the biggest of stages are so valuable to 'smaller nations' like Chile and after six minutes, no one could argue they weren't taking their opportunity.

After debutant Leali'ifano had pinged over his first three-pointer, the lively Fernandez - who also plays his club rugby in Santiago for Selknam - found a gap in the Samoa defence and surged through. He had a couple of opportunities to find a teammate but went alone. The chance may have gone, but Chile's patience was rewarded with prop Dittus burrowing over.

Referee Paul Williams then went to the TMO to review a late shot from Samoa centre Ulupano Seuteni. His punishment was a yellow card, and it remained at a yellow but the Pacific Islanders now found themselves down to 14.

It wasn't a surprise Fernandez had sparked the game into life after playing such a major role in the South Americans qualifying for France 2023 - scoring a wonderful try v USA in qualifying -  but even though they were a man down, Samoa kept things ticking over through the boot of Leali'ifano.

Whilst Chile were very much holding their own, their indiscipline was starting to cost them. In the first period, they conceded eight penalties and even when Matias Gaurafulic landed three points to put Chile 10-9 in front, they gave Samoa a route back into the game.

After Bristol Bears' Steven Luatau had fumbled an opportunity five metres out, Samoa almost instantly won a penalty - and recognising they were in a fight - nudged over three more before the best move of the half.

From an attacking scrum, and a neat grubber from Tumua Manu, Toulon's Paia'aua raced through to score to give Samoa some much-needed daylight even though it didn't tell the full story.

After a disjointed first 40, Samoa - who had waited eight days to begin their World Cup campaign - flew out of the blocks with Saracens' Theo McFarland flicking the ball up for scrum-half Taumateine who flew over in the corner for a 24-10 lead.

Clermont's Lee - as well as Malolo - profited from more Chile indiscipline to stretch Samoa's advantage from close range.

Even though the game had slipped away from them, the swathes of Los Cóndores fans continued to back their team superbly. Scrum-half Marcelo Torrealba tried to make something happen for the South Americans but Samoa were now beginning to shut down the space. 

However, Chile's discipline problems were in the spotlight once again just after the hour when replacement Alfonso Escobar was shown a yellow card for making contact with the head of Lee.

It was then quickly 14 men apiece with Ereatara Enari also sin-binned for clearing out Diego Escobar, which caused some debate between the officials.

Alfonso Escobar's card stayed as a yellow - as did Enari's - but Chile found themselves a man down again when Esteban Inostroza was sent to the cooler just minutes after coming off the bench.

It meant Los Cóndores ended the game - which began with so much promise - a man down. 

For Samoa, they were able to grab a fifth try right at the death with Maolo dotting down from a driving maul. 

So job done for the Pacific Islanders after a testing opening half. With a bonus-point victory in the bag, they will now look to Argentina, Japan and then England to see what mark they can leave on this World Cup.