Day six saw Samoa launch their campaign with a eventful 34-9 victory over Russia in Kumagaya.
Here, the PA news agency wraps up Tuesday’s action and takes a look ahead to Fiji’s showdown with Uruguay on Wednesday.
Samoa far, so good
On the face of it, Samoa’s bonus-point win over Russia in Pool A was comfortable, but the final scoreline does not begin to tell the story of a brutal encounter.
Russia led 6-5 at the break courtesy of two Yury Kushnarev penalties, but Samoa were reduced to 13 men after centre Rey Lee-lo and hooker Motu Matu’u both received yellow cards for high tackles on Russian full-back Vasily Artemyev with referee Romain Poite initially deciding to send off Lee-lo before being talked out of it by TMO Graham Hughes.
However, second-half tries from Afaesetiti Amosa, two from Ed Fidow and one each for Lee-lo and Alapati Leiua, who had crossed before the break, completed the job with Kirill Gotovtsev’s yellow card for a high tackle on Amosa aiding their cause.
Officials under fire
Referee Romain Poite shows Samoa’s Rey Lee-lo (centre) a yellow card (Jae Hong/AP)
World Rugby had already expressed its disappointment with the standard of refereeing during the opening days of the tournament before Poite’s handling of the Russia v Samoa game was thrust into the spotlight.
A statement said: “Following the usual review of matches, the match officials team recognise that performances over the opening weekend were not consistently of the standards set by World Rugby and themselves,” the statement read.
“But World Rugby is confident of the highest standards of officiating moving forward.
“Elite match officials are required to make decisions in complex, high-pressure situations and there have been initial challenges with the use of technology and team communication, which have impacted decision-making.
“These are already being addressed by the team of 23 match officials to enhance consistency.
“Given this proactive approach, a strong team ethic and a superb support structure, World Rugby has every confidence in the team to ensure that Rugby World Cup 2019 delivers the highest levels of accurate, clear and consistent decision-making.”
No beef for Billy
England head coach Eddie Jones found himself having to defend his decision to select number eight Billy Vunipola for Thursday’s Pool C clash with the United States.
The only man to start all four of the nation’s warm-up games has been on the field 761 of the last 800 minutes his team has played, but is one of just five men to have been retained for a game which comes only four days after a bruising 35-3 win over Tonga.
Vunipola, who spent much of last season recovering from three separate arm fractures, is happy to plough on and his coach is in no mood to stop him.
Asked if was a risk to play him, Jones said: “It’s a risk Billy going out and eating Kobe beef! It’s much better he plays rugby than goes out and eats beef.”
Samoa winger Alapati Leiua left the pitch in Kumagaya with two tries to his name, five points safely banked and the Player of the Match award.
However, he did so having set a new high for the number of yards gained in the tournament to date having carried for a total of 163 metres.
Team-mate Ed Fidow was the only man to come anywhere near him with 96 metres.
Fiji fliers ready to go
Fiji coach John McKee is ready to unleash his speed merchants on Uruguay as the pair go head-to-head in Pool D on Wednesday.
McKee is wary of the South American side’s power in the tight and at the maul, but is confident his backs will cause problems.
He told a press conference: “We are very aware of the threats they can bring to the game in those areas and we will have to be on top of our game to defend there.
“In terms of our game, we want to try to play our Fijian style and we do have good speed in the outside backs, talents that we hope to utilise.”
Pool D – Fiji v Uruguay, 6.15am
– Press Association
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