The Latest: Game of cards as Samoa opens with 34-9 win

Sports

TOKYO (AP)The Latest on Day 5 of the Rugby World Cup in Japan (all times local):

9:25 p.m.

Samoa accounted for Russia 34-9 in an incident-packed Rugby World Cup match that featured three yellow cards that could easily have been red.

The difference was in how they managed their yellows on a tropical evening that felt more like Apia than Moscow.

While down to 13 men for eight minutes in the first half, Samoa didn’t concede a point.

While Russia was down a man, it conceded 14.

Fielding the same squad which lost to Japan just four days ago, Russia simply ran out of energy. The Bears ended up missing 44 tackles as Manu Samoa ran free in the second half, scoring five of their six tries.

8:15 p.m.

Russia leads Samoa 6-5 at halftime in a Pool A game in Kumagaya.

Samoa played for eight minutes with 13 men after center Rey Lee-Lo and hooker Motu Matu’u were sin-binned for shoulder-led hits at the head of Russia fullback and captain Vasily Artemyev. They weren’t red cards because both times Artemyev ducked down to brace for impacts.

Samoa scored first with a try to right winger Alapati Leiua, and Russia replied with penalties to Yuri Kushnarev.

After defending stoutly with 13 men, Samoa almost conceded a try on halftime when it was back to 15, after Vladimir Ostroushko charged down Samoa flyhalf Tusi Pisi.

7: 40 p.m.

World Rugby is taking measures to improve the consistency of refereeing at its marquee tournament after conceding the standard has fallen below expectations.

The sport’s governing body released a statement Tuesday saying performances last weekend ”were not consistently of the standards set.”

The two main unsatisfactory factors involved ”challenges with the use of technology and team communication.”

World Rugby says it is working with the 23 match officials ”to enhance consistency.”

France’s dramatic 23-21 win against Argentina last Saturday saw both sides heavily critical of referee Angus Gardner.

Argentine coach Mario Ledesma penalties and yellow cards not issued to the French despite warnings from the referee.

France captain Guilhem Guirado was equally exasperated and backed Ledesma’s view of the overall decision-making; saying there was much ”nonsense” and a ”lack of coherence” in the scrums.

World Rugby says it is taking a tough stance on illegal tackles where contact is made to the head.

Australia winger Reece Hodge’s shoulder made contact with Peceli Yato head and neck area during a try-saving tackle. No action was taken by officials during the game, which Australia won, despite Yato leaving the field with symptoms of concussion. Hodge was subsequently cited and could be banned for up to 10 weeks.

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7:15 p.m.

Wales has sent home injured lock Cory Hill and replaced him with Bradley Davies.

Hill hasn’t played since February, when he suffered a stress fracture in his lower leg in a Six Nations game against England. Wales hoped he would be available to face Australia on Sunday in Pool D, but he has run out of time to prove his fitness.

Davies has 65 caps and played in the last two World Cups. He will arrive in Japan on Wednesday.

Fellow lock Adam Beard arrived in Japan only three days ago after having his appendix removed.

Captain Alun Wyn Jones and Jake Ball will likely continue as Wales’ second row against the Wallabies, with flanker Aaron Shingler providing cover.

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5:30 p.m.

Veteran prop Hubert Buydens and winger DTH Van Der Merwe have been selected in the starting lineup for Canada’s opening game against Italy.

They were both also in the team eight years ago when Canada beat Tonga 25-20 – which is Canada’s most recent World Cup win.

At 37 years, 264 days, Buydens is the third-oldest Canadian to feature at a Rugby World Cup after Mark Cardinal and Spencer McTavish.

The 33-year-old Van Der Merwe, meanwhile, will aim to add to his national-record tally of six World Cup tries.

Coach Kingsley Jones kept 11 of the 15 who played in the 20-15 loss to the United States earlier this month.

The four changes see locks Conor Keys and Josh Larsen coming in to the forward pack along with flanker Michael Sheppard.

Nick Blevins is picked at inside center, pushing Ciaran Hearn to the bench.

Backrower Tyler Ardron will lead a rugged pack from No. 8.

Canada: Patrick Parfrey, Jeff Hassler, Ben Lesage, Nick Blevins, DTH Van Der Merwe, Peter Nelson, Gordon McRorie; Tyler Ardron (captain), Lucas Rumball, Michael Sheppard, Josh Larsen, Conor Keys, Matt Tierney, Eric Howard, Hubert Buydens. Reserves: Benoit Piffero, Djustice Duru-Sears, Jake Ilnicki, Luke Campbell, Matt Heaton, Jamie Mackenzie, Ciaran Hearn, Andrew Coe.

4:45 p.m.

England head coach Eddie Jones made 10 changes to his starting lineup for the Rugby World Cup game against the United States, with the English having just a four-day turnaround following their tournament opener against Tonga.

George Ford captains the team in place of Owen Farrell and retains his place at flyhalf. There’s a new center combination in Piers Francis and Jonathan Joseph. Manu Tuilagi, who scored two tries and was England’s best player in the 35-3 win over Tonga on Sunday, is rested completely and Farrell is on the bench.

Joe Cokanasiga and Ruaridh McConnochie are the new wings. Elliot Daly was kept at fullback.

In the pack, hooker Luke Cowan-Dickie and prop Dan Cole come into the front row and Joe Launchbury and George Kruis provide fresh legs in the second row. Flanker Lewis Ludlam is the only change to the back row, coming in at No. 7 to work with Tom Curry and No. 8 Billy Vunipola.

Lineup: Elliot Daly, Ruaridh McConnochie, Jonathan Joseph, Piers Francis, Joe Cokanasiga, George Ford (captain), Willi Heinz; Billy Vunipola, Lewis Ludlam, Tom Curry, George Kruis, Joe Launchbury, Dan Cole, Luke Cowan-Dickie, Joe Marler.

Reserves: Jack Singleton, Ellis Genge, Kyle Sinckler, Courtney Lawes, Mark Wilson, Ben Youngs, Owen Farrell, Anthony Watson.

4:20 p.m.

Scotland has had another injury setback following its 27-3 opening loss to Ireland, with Henry Pyrgos drafted into the squad to replace the injured Ali Price for the remainder of the Rugby World Cup.

Price injured his foot in the Pool A game on the weekend when he went on as backup scrumhalf and medical scans confirmed he could play no further games in the tournament. His departure was confirmed a day after flanker Hamish Watson was ruled out because of a knee injury.

Pyrgos, who has earned 27 caps, including the upset win over Australia in 2017, is scheduled to arrive in Japan in time for Scotland’s game against Samoa at Kobe next Monday.

”Both Ali and Hamish had invested a lot of effort into being in their best physical shape for the World Cup and it’s a shame they’ve only been involved in one game,” head coach Gregor Townsend said. ”However, we have a lot of belief in our wider group and the two new players (Pyrgros and Magnus Bradbury) who have been given this opportunity.”

3:30 p.m.

Springboks lock Lood de Jager says there’s no move from the South Africans to panic – or even press a ”reset button” – after the opening loss to New Zealand at the Rugby World Cup.

But de Jager also notes the Springboks have no margin for error now in Japan and have to win every other game in Pool B, first against Namibia on Saturday, and then against Italy and Canada, to make sure of reaching the quarterfinals.

De Jager says the 23-13 score-line against the defending champion All Blacks didn’t reflect ”how tight the game really was.”

”We clawed our way back to 17-13 with 20 minutes to go,” he said. ”Just one or two big moments they handled better than us on the day.”

The Springboks took the southern hemisphere title from the All Blacks this year and were unbeaten before the Rugby World Cup and de Jager says ”one game, where the opposition were also good and you lost, it doesn’t make you all of a sudden panic.”

2:15 p.m.

Italy coach Conor O’Shea has revamped his team to take on Canada in a Pool B game at the Rugby World Cup, making 10 changes to the starting lineup that beat Namibia 47-22 on Sunday and keeping just two players in the same positions.

Flyhalf Tommaso Allan and hooker Luca Bigi will start back-to-back games within five days in the same positions, while Jayden Hayward will switch from fullback to make his first start in the midfield for Italy.

Tommaso Bevenuti and backrower Braam Steyn also started against Namibia. The game in Fukuoka on Thursday will be Canada’s first at the tournament.

Allan will combine with Callum Braley in what will be Italy’s 13th halves pairing since the 2015 World Cup.

The front row of Andrea Lovotti, Bigi and Simone Ferrari started six tests together in 2017 but have worked as a starting combination only once since – a loss to England in March. Sergio Parisse, who started his record-equaling 5th Rugby World Cup by leading Italy against Namibia, is not in the match-day 23.

Italy: Matteo Minozzi, Tommaso Benvenuti, Michele Campagnaro, Jayden Hayward, Giulio Bisegni, Tommaso Allan, Callum Braley; Braam Steyn, Jake Polledri, Sebastian Negri, Dean Budd (captain), David Sisi, Simone Ferrari, Luca Bigi, Andrea Lovotti. Reserves: Federico Zani, Nicola Quaglio, Marco Riccioni, Federico Ruzza, Maxime Mbanda, Guglielmo Palazzani, Carlo Canna, Mattia Bellini.

12:30 p.m.

Tonga flyhalf Kurt Morath and center Nafi Tuitavake have been ruled out of the Rugby World Cup after sustaining injuries in the 35-3 opening loss to England on Sunday.

Tonga assistant coach Pita Alatini told a news conference Tuesday that Morath was still in a hospital in Sapporo and may need surgery after hurting his throat while trying to tackle England center Manu Tuilagi in the second half. Tuitavake broke his left arm on the last play of the game.

”It is obviously desperately disappointing for Kurt and Nafi – they have worked so hard to be here – but it means there are opportunities for others now,” Alatini said.

James Faiva is likely to start at flyhalf against Argentina on Saturday as a replacement for Morath, who is Tonga’s all-time leading scorer.

”It’s disappointing to lose Kurt the way we have, but we’ve got to keep moving forward as a team and I want to take the chance that has been given to me,” Faiva said. ”It’s a great opportunity to show my talents.”

Alatini said Latiume Fositaa was being drafted into the broader squad to replace Morath, and Fetuli Paea was a likely replacement for Tuitavake.

12 p.m.

Russia is returning for its second game of the Rugby World Cup after just four days off. Samoa will be fresh and ready to go at Kumagaya.

Given only the short break, Russia surprisingly retained the same 23-man squad which lost 30-10 to host Japan in the tournament opener last Friday.

Kirill Golosnitskiy scored the first try of the tournament, but the opener went mostly Japan’s way after that.

The Samoans will be without captain Jack Lam on Tuesday but should have too much experience to be too troubled by Russia.

At 37 years, 268 days, flyhalf Tusi Pisi is set to surpass late captain Peter Fatialofa as the oldest Samoan to play at a Rugby World Cup.

It’s the only game on Day 5 of the tournament. Fiji will play its second game when it takes on Uruguay on Wednesday.

More AP Rugby World Cup: https://www.apnews.com/RugbyWorldCup and https://twitter.com/AP-Sports

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