Samoa captain Schwalger slams Welsh ref Owens

Frustrated Samoa captain Mahonri Schwalger slammed Welsh referee Nigel Owens after his team lost 13-5 to South Africa almost certainly ensuring that Wales will progress to the quarter finals.

Whilst South Africa were leading Pool D the battle for second place was between Wales and Samoa but the IRB felt that selecting a Welsh referee would be fine but Samoan centre Eliota Sapolu was immediately concerned about the appointement and said on Twitter, “There is a blatant conflict of interest that could have been easily avoided.”

Speaking after the match Schwalger said of the Welsh referee, “I think the ref was pretty hard on us.”

Samoa played most of the rugby but finished the match with 14 men after fullback Paul Williams was given a direct red card for retaliating to several punches from Springbok fetcher Heinrich Brussow.

Williams’ sending off was just one of several decisions by Owens that irked the Samoans, who almost added the prestige scalp of the Springboks to the one of Tri-Nations champions Australia in Sydney last July.

“I thought the ref was pretty hard on us,” skipper Mahroni Schwalger said.

“There was a lot of times when they were slowing our ball down and for me it’s got to be fair on us as well and make sure he gives us a chance as well.”

“I felt like it was one way, but we can’t change the result, it’s done.”

Schwalger said “acting” was involved in the red-carding of Williams.

Brussow instigated the incident when he wildly thrashed out at Williams to get release from a maul and the Samoan fullback got off the ground and retailiated by striking him in the face.

“There was a little bit of acting out there, there was nothing in that, but the referee gave him a red card and that was a little bit harsh.”

Schwalger said his Samoa team was excited by the prospect of testing themselves against the world champion Springboks on the World Cup stage.

“The boys knew they had a special occasion like this to get a chance to play the world champs and you might as well make the most of it,” he said.

Owens handed out 19 penalties, 10 against and nine to Samoa. But some decisions
rankled the Samoans, especially when quicksilver wing David Lemi broke into
open field in the 56th and was just dragged down by South Africa fullback Pat

Lemi was penalized for not releasing the ball, despite the fact he clearly
wasn’t held.

Schwalger and Owens kept up a running chatter as the skipper tried to understand
the calls. At one point, Owens told him, “I’ll never make a hooker and
you’ll never make a referee. Let me do my job.”

Lock Kane Thompson was fortunate not to be yellow-carded in the first half
for throwing a punch, not long after he’d been wrongly penalized for infringing
in a maul. Regardless, the resulting penalty sent South Africa to a 13-0 lead.

Twice Owens had to overturn calls after receiving advice from touchline officials
after incorrectly giving South Africa the advantage for knock-ons in general
play that he should have ruled in Samoa’s favor.

The Samoans wore armbands to honor the second anniversary of the deadly 2009
tsunami, which made them even more conscious of the people they were playing
for. They were emotional when they walked out before more than 29,000-plus crowd
in North Harbour Stadium, and bitterly disappointed afterwards.

“Lots of guys are shedding tears,” prop Census Johnston said. “They’re
not ready to go home.”

Schwalger added: “This is the end of the road for us. The thing is, the
team is going to do well in the next couple of years if they get a chance to
play bigger teams. We’d give them a go. I hope we get a chance.”

Samoa has proved that already, having beaten eventual Tri-Nations champion
Australia in Sydney in July. At the World Cup, they narrowly missed a

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