MATCH REPORT: Emiliano Boffelli steered Argentina to a 19-10 victory over Samoa after scoring 16 points in their Pool D match at Stade Geoffroy-Guichard in Saint-Étienne on Saturday.
It was a tough and physical battle in difficult rainy conditions and it was not very attractive rugby, but it was winning rugby.
Boffelli scored a try, a conversion and three penalties goals while he also made a try saving tackle as the clock struck one hour mere centimetres from the Los Pumas tryline.
Boffelli scored his side’s try in the eighth minute of the game after Samoa was left with 14 players Duncan Paia’aua was sent off after taking out a player in the air.
Argentina took the early lead and Samoa had an opportunity to get on the scoreboard through a penalty at goal, but Christian Leali’ifano missed it.
As the pressure mounted on Samoa, combined with the slippery conditions in the rain, their discipline dwindled. Referee Nic Berry had multiple discussions with Samoan captain Chris Vui.
Just before halftime Leali’ifano had another opportunity to close the gap but in the bad weather, the kick was hooked.
Another penalty followed and the Samoans decided to kick for the corner, but the Los Pumas stole the ball in the line-out just to lose possession as the scrumhalf got caught in the in-goal area.
On the stroke of half-time Samoa had a scrum – a fiery one at that – but the scrum was turned and Jonathan Taumateine lost the ball forward and another scoring opportunity was thwarted.
The Los Pumas were in the face of Samoa with some ferocious tackling causing the Polynesians to get rattled.
Samoa were made to defend for their lives as Argentina asked questions from every area of the field.
Argentina’s attack had been a bit blunt in the build-up to the World Cup, and against Samoa their backs also struggled to get going, clearly to the disappointment of their coach Michael Cheika, who slammed the desk in the coaches box a few times.
Samoa’s handling was suspect, fumbling at the rare opportunities they had the ball and trying to slice through the Los Pumas defence.
In the 74th minute Samoa finally got their try when Sama Malolo forced his way over with a strong leg drive and after the conversion, the gap closed to 10-16.
Nicholas Sanchez sealed the fate of Samoa, kicking a beauty to stretch their lead to 19-10, taking away any fighting chance Samoa had of fighting back.
Man of the Match: Emiliano Boffelli for scoring 16 points in his side’s victory, but also for the try saving tackle close to the end of the game.
Pens: Boffelli 3, Sanchez
Yellow card: Duncan Paia’aua (Samoa, 00:25’ – taken out in air),
Argentina: 15 Juan Cruz Mallia; 14 Emiliano Boffelli, 13 Matias Moroni, 12 Santiago Chocobares, 11 Mateo Carreras; 10 Santiago Carreras, 9 Gonzalo Bertranou; 8 Juan Martin Gonzalez, 7 Marcos Kremer, 6 Pablo Matera; 5 Matias Alemanno, 4 Guido Petti; 3 Eduardo Bello, 2 Julian Montoya (captain), 1 Thomas Gallo
Replacements: Agustin Creevy, Mayco Vivas, Francisco Gomez Kodela, Pedro Rubiolo, Rodrigo Bruni, Tomas Cubelli, Nicolas Sanchez, Lucio Cinti
Samoa: 15 Duncan Paia’aua; 14 Nigel Ah Wong, 13 UJ Seuteni, 12 Tumua Manu, 11 Ben Lam; 10 Christian Leali’ifano, 9 Jonathan Taumateine; 8 Steven Luatua, 7 Fritz Lee, 6 Theo McFarland; 5 Chris Vui (captain), 4 Brian Alainu’u’ese; 3 Paul Alo-Emile, 2 Seilala Lam, 1 James Lay
Replacements: 16 Sama Malolo, 17 Charlie Faumuina, 18 Michael Alaalatoa, 19 Taleni Seu, 20 Sa Jordan Taufua, 21 Melani Matavao, 22 D’Angelo Leuila, 23 Danny Toala
Referee: Nic Berry (Australia)
Assistant Referees: Nika Amashukeli (Georgia), Jordan Way (Australia)
TMO: Brett Cronan (Australia)