AUCKLAND, New Zealand (AP) — Italy defeated Russia with its highest score at the Rugby World Cup, and Samoan player Eliota Fuimaono-Sapolu escaped with a warning from organizers Tuesday after his Twitter rant about tournament scheduling.
Italy, a tournament regular since the first World Cup in 1987, soared to a 53-17 victory over Russia, a World Cup newcomer, in Nelson.
Italy's nine tries eclipsed the eight it totaled at the 2007 tournament. The team's six first-half tries were more than it scored in the whole tournament in 1987, 1999 and 2003.
The Italians had failed to score a try in an opening 32-6 loss to Australia. They wanted a bonus-point win to have any chance of qualifying from Pool C for the quarterfinals. They accomplished that quickly. Giulio Toniolatti scored his second try and the Italians' fourth in the 23rd minute. By halftime, they led 38-7.
Italy moved into third place, even with Australia at five points but behind on points differential. Ireland leads the pool.
Fuimaono-Sapolu had angered World Cup organizers when he described their treatment of Samoa as akin to the Holocaust, slavery and apartheid. The vent on Twitter came after Samoa lost to Wales 17-10 on Sunday. The posting has since been deleted.
He challenged the International Rugby Board to suspend him, saying it would be another injustice. But in a meeting with the organizers, Samoa officials apologized on their player's behalf and the England-based center drew only a warning.
In Wednesday's only match, Tonga and Japan, both winless, meet in Whangarei. On Thursday, neighbors South Africa and Namibia meet for only the second time when they play in Auckland.