Kumagaya — Marauding winger Ed Fidow bagged a quickfire double as Samoa beat Russia 34-9 in a bruising Rugby World Cup encounter yesterday.
Fidow provided the spark in a tempestuous Pool A clash after the Pacific islanders were reduced to 13 men in the first half for two reckless tackles in steamy Kumagaya.
“To lose two players, go down to 13 men and we didn’t lose on the score, (I’m) really proud of the effort,” Samoa coach Steve Jackson said.
“We knew we would come out after half-time and the boys were still fresh. I’m just glad we got over the line.”
Russia coach Lyn Jones bemoaned his team’s short, four-day turnaround after his team lost 30-10 to Japan in the tournament-opener on Saturday.
“It’s very disappointing. The performance wasn’t what we expected. However, the short turnaround has affected us tactically and mentally,” the Welshman said.
“I thought we could play the same tactics as Japan, but it wasn’t going to be tonight. We needed more time to prepare. It’s not the physical deterioration, it was the mental. We just weren’t there tonight.”
Samoa, World Cup quarter-finalists in 1991 and 1995, began the game pumped up after a passionate performance of their “siva tau” war dance.
And they went ahead after 15 minutes when a superb pass from Tim Nanai-Williams — cousin of All Black star Sonny Bill — found Alapati Leiua to crash over for the first of his brace.
But Russia flyhalf Yury Kushnarev, making a record-extending 111th appearance for the Bears, kicked a pair of penalties to give the Bears a 6-5 half-time lead which should have been more after Samoa played almost 10 minutes with 13 men.
Centre Rey Lee-Lo was lucky to escape with a yellow card for a high tackle on Russia captain Vasily Artemyev before hooker Motu Matu’u followed him to the sin bin after another dangerous challenge on Artemyev.
But Russia let Samoa off the hook as they failed to capitalise on their numerical advantage.
Pisi, who at 37 became the oldest player to represent Samoa at a World Cup, had a kicking game to forget, missing four of six attempts with the boot.
However Samoa, playing their first game of the tournament, ultimately had too much firepower for the Russians, who were blowing hard after their short recovery time.