What Lessons Can Japan Take From The Argentina vs Samoa Pool D RWC 2023 Match
With Argentina beating Samoa in the Pool D Rugby World Cup 2023 clash on Friday night, the 19-10 victory at the Stade Geoffroy-Guichard means Japan has had another good look at their last two remaining opponents at RWC 2023, and the Brave Blossoms will need to win both matches to ensure quarterfinal qualification.
Feature Credit: SAINT-ETIENNE, FRANCE – SEPTEMBER 22: Julian Montoya of Argentina embraces members of the crowd at full-time following the Rugby World Cup France 2023 match between Argentina and Samoa at Stade Geoffroy-Guichard on September 22, 2023 in Saint-Etienne, France. (Photo by Adam Pretty – World Rugby/World Rugby via Getty Images).
Japan play Samoa on September 28th 2023 in Toulouse before their final pool fixture against Argentina on October 8th in Nantes – so what did the match in Japan’s bye week teach them about their opposition?
The Physical Samoan Challenge
If Japan felt they had to be at their physical best in their loss against England, both Argentina and Samoa will test their limits once again.
Although the rain-soaked Pool D match between Samoa and the Pumas meant there was a high handling error rate, there were big collisions too.
The Pumas prepared knowing the Samoan midfield would be something they would need to counter. Santiago Chocobares, the Argentine centre said: “If we give their players space, it will be a long afternoon. Their centres are very strong and when they have the ball in their hands, they put their team on the front foot. Our challenge is to have a good defence and generate attacking opportunities.”
The Samoans will be disappointed with the loss, caused by ill-discipline and poor handling skills in wet conditions; they conceded 13 penalties, but alarmingly missed 36 tackles. Much like Japan in the first half against England, the Pacific islanders failed to convert pressure into points against Argentina.
Michael Ala’alatoa said after the loss that the squad was, “Disappointed with the loss, but we’ll take a lot out of it in terms of learnings and what it takes to win tight test matches.” They have two more games and will target two wins “We have an awesome opportunity to come up for the next two games and that’s all we’re worried about.”
The Samoans have only six days to prepare for the Japan match in Toulouse, while the Brave Blossoms will have had a long rest.
Sa Jordan Taufua, the Samoan hooker was looking forward to the match with Japan saying “Japan are a quality team. We know what they can do when it’s their day. Going into Japan we are looking at as a final. Today was Argentina’s final and they showed up. Every game from here is a final.”
More threatening words came from Alai D’Angelo Leuila, the Samoan fly-half who said, “The world’s not yet seen the best of Samoa. Hopefully, we have a good week next week and come out and put on a good performance for everyone to see.”
The Argentine Threat
Argentina’s Head Coach Michael Cheika said after Friday night’s win against Samoa in Saint-Ettiene that “this is a World Cup and everyone is here to play their best game.” He singled out improvements in the Pumas defence and maul adding, “It’s something we want to build on for the next game. Be better in those situations.”
In attack, he felt the side was better in phase play and the rucks (they had twice the number of rucks  compared to Samoa). “There are times when we can have the ball a little faster and with continuity. It wasn’t good in the first game, it was better today, but not at the level we want it to be. There were many things I liked and others I didn’t.”
Julián Montoya, the South American captain and hooker also felt the forwards stepped up after a poor performance from the team in their opener against England. He said post-game “We took a step forward as a pack. We improved the lineout, the scrum, the maul. We had several maul defences that were good. This is the key for everything that follows.”
Emiliano Boffelli was the Mastercard Player of the Match in the win, and was as always powerful with the ball and under the high ball as well as kicking well – he will be a threat to the Brave Blossoms aerially.
What Is The Tiebreaker In The RWC 2023 Pools?
Even though we are not yet halfway through the RWC 2023 pools, fans (and the media) are already having to work out the mathematics if there was a three-way tie in an RWC 2023 pool.
If three teams are tied, the below criteria are used to determine the first team and then these criteria restart from criterion 1 to determine the difference between the next two teams:
- Head-to-head result.
- Points Difference.
- Tries Difference.
- Points For.
- Tries For.
- World Rugby Ranking.
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