The Rugby World Cup was brought to life on day two of the tournament, as the mighty Springboks were humbled by the up and coming Japanese 34-32! Georgia created a similar shock by blunting a powerful Tongan side, as the underdogs showed that there was bite as well as heart to their displays over the weekend. Not that it was all bad news for the so-called big nations at the weekend though, with convincing victories for France, Ireland and Wales.
Shock for South Africa
After England had ultimately run out comfortable winners against Fiji to open the competition on Friday evening, South Africa were expected to do likewise despite being faced by a Japanese side with aspirations of their own to qualify from Pool B.
The see-saw battle was in the balance at half-time as the Boks were relieved to go in 12-10 ahead. It seemed that their concerns were being eased as the two-time world champions surged into a convincing advantage thanks to tries from Lood de Jager and Adriaan Strauss. Yet a superb move from the Japanese swept Ayumu Goromaru in to bring the game back into the balance, before one final attack clinched the outcome in the dying seconds. Utilising their man advantage at the time, it was Karne Hesketh who became an instant hero for Japan.
Pool B qualification up for grabs
Former coach of the Australian national side, Eddie Jones appears to have galvanised Japan into a formidable force of late. Utilising an array of imports and home talents placed at his disposal, they showed the tenacity and heart that typifies their nation. Their win ensures that there are now probably four teams with legitimate hopes of reaching the quarter-finals from the group, with Samoa and Scotland added to the mix. Samoa defeated the United States 25-16 on Sunday.
Surprise victory for Georgia
Georgia claimed a surprise 17-10 win in Pool C against Tonga to further bolster the hopes of the lesser-fancied countries. Seventeen thousand people were at Kingsholm to witness what could be a landmark result in the development of the game in the country. Tries from Mamuka Gorgodze and Giorgi Tkhilaishvili put them in command of the match, until Tonga’s Fetu'u Vainikolo narrowed the gap. Despite having Merab Kvirikashvili yellow-carded with eight minutes remaining, Georgia held on for a famous success. Irish and French delight
The heavyweights in Pool D established their early credentials, as both Ireland and France had convincing victories. The Irish are many people’s dark horses for the trophy and showed their class with a 50-7 demolition of Canada. France were made to work slightly harder for their success over fellow Six Nations’ side Italy, but a 32-10 win enhanced their qualification hopes.
Wales joined England at the top
Wales as expected defeated Uruguay 54-9 on Sunday to join England on maximum points at the head of the group. Their eight-try success was earned at a cost though, with centre Cory Allen bagging three tries but then going off the pitch through injury. Fresh injury concerns also raised themselves over the fitness of Liam Williams, Paul James and Samson Lee after the match.
New Zealand class overcomes Argentina
The final game of the weekend saw the pre-tournament favourites New Zealand come strong in the last quarter to overcome a hard-working Argentina. Trailing narrowly at the break, the Kiwis poured forward after the interval to run out 26-16 winners at the end, as the likely qualifiers from Pool C battled it out at Wembley. #Rugby