Samoa were left to rue too many handling errors at a wet Stade Geoffroy Guichard as they slipped to a 19-10 defeat by Argentina in their Rugby World Cup Pool D fixture on Friday, a blow to their quarter-final hopes.
A try with five minutes to go from replacement hooker Sama Malolo gave Samoa some hope they could get a win.
But they lacked accuracy in difficult conditions and came away without even a losing bonus pointafter Argentina’s Nicolas Sanchez kicked a late penalty.
Wing Emiliano Boffelli scored 16 points for the South American side that proved the difference in a tight clash in which both defences put in some huge hits.
“We made too many mistakes and didn’t adapt to the conditions, particularly at the start of the game,” Samoa head coach Seilala Mapusua said. “I thought Argentina executed their gameplan really well and we weren’t able to adapt.
“We knew that with Boffelli in their team that they could slot them (penalties) from anywhere and getting that yellow card (for fullback Duncan Paia’aua) early on didn’t help us.”
In a pool where a top two place is still very much up for grabs, failure to secure the losing bonus-point could prove crucial in the end.
“We wanted to come away from this game with something,” Mapusua said. “Up until the last couple of minutes we at least had a bonus point and we are disappointed we could not hold onto it.”
He revealed this was only the third match for his side against a tier one nation since the last World Cup in Japan four years ago, and if Samoa and other smaller rugby nations are to progress, it is something that has to change.
“There is definitely a correlation between not just the amount of games we play but also the type of matches (if we are to improve),” he said.
“We have shown today we can be competitive against a team like Argentina that are playing in the Rugby Championship. And previously against Ireland (where Samoa lost 17-13 in a World Cup warm-up).
“The more games we play against tier one nations can only be a good thing for us. That is not making excuses and saying we are not here to play well, but it would make a big difference for us to play these games more regularly.”