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Lee-Lo scores in eventful performance as Samoa win RWC opener

International | 24th September 2019

Rey Lee-Lo crossed the whitewash in an eventful performance as Samoa opened their Rugby World Cup account with bonus point win over Russia in Kumagaya.

The centre was typically influential in both attack and defence, with trademark carries proving a handful for the Russians.

However, the Cardiff Blues star was sent to the sin bin in the first half for a controversial high tackle, with mitigating circumstance the reason given for avoiding a red card as an outcome.

Samoa struggled in the opening 40, but drew away from Russia with a strong second half outing, with Lee-Lo touching down for his side’s fifth try of the evening.

It was a scrappy and cagey opening 15 minutes in Kumagaya, but the Cardiff Blues centre led from the front, getting over the gain-line with his carries and keeping the ball alive with his offloading abilities.

Samoa finally opened the scoring as a timely pass from Tim Nanai Williams - brother of Cardiff Blues number eight Nick Williams - opened the space for man of the match Alapati Leiua to dot down in the corner.

Lee-Lo continued to be an influential figure in both attack and defence, but an overzealous challenge saw the centre sent to the sin bin for a high tackle.

However, Russia clawed their way into the lead with two penalties courtesy of Yury Kushnarev.

Lee-Lo was sent to the sin bin mid-way through the first half after the TMO had spotted a high tackle from the centre, and he escaped a red card due to mitigating circumstances.

Manu Samoa were reduced to 13-men as hooker Motu Matu’u was also shown a yellow card for a high tackle.

The Russians took an unlikely lead into the break, but Samoa struck early in the second half to regain the advantage on the scoreboard. Powerful number eight Afaesetiti Amosa eventually crashed over from close range following a period of sustained pressure.

Kushnarev reduced the deficit to a single point with a sweetly struck drop goal, but Samoa drew clear thanks to a brace of scores from Worcester Warriors wing Ed Fidow, securing a bonus point in the process.

Lee-Lo’s efforts were rewarded as he squeezed over for a try in the corner - for his second Rugby World Cup try, having crossed the whitewash against Scotland four years earlier.

Russia were held-up on the line with 10 minutes remaining, but were unable to add a try to their name, with Leiua bookending the scoring with an impressive solo effort in the final play.