Day two at the Rugby World Cup: New Zealand edge South Africa
The 2019 Rugby World Cup’s opening ‘Super Saturday’ lived up to its billing.
Defending champions New Zealand produced a determined win over South Africa in Yokohama, while Australia survived a scare to beat Fiji and France held off a rousing second-half fightback from Argentina.
Here, the PA news agency wraps up all the action from September 21 and takes a look at the next set of games.
All Blacks up and running
New Zealand laid down a marker in the hunt for a record third straight World Cup crown by grinding past South Africa 23-13 in Yokohama.
The Springboks had made the most of a bright start to take an early lead through Handre Pollard’s penalty.
However, the All Blacks were soon on level terms, before two quick tries from George Bridge and Scott Barrett, converted by Richie Mo’unga, saw them 17-3 in front.
South Africa rallied with an early second-half score from Pieter-Steph du Toit and Pollard’s drop goal, but New Zealand comfortably closed out the final stages.
Wallabies bounce back
Australia, beaten finalists four years ago, survived a scare to eventually dispatch Fiji 39-21 in their World Cup Pool D opener at the Sapporo Dome.
The two-time champions trailed by nine points until they seized the lead for the first time in the 62nd minute before then galloping out of sight, the Islanders unable to absorb unrelenting set-piece pressure.
Hooker Silatolu Latu was twice driven over to help swing the game before the Wallabies then ran amok against the deflated Pacific Islanders who knew the mighty World Cup upset they had threatened was gone.
Les Bleus hold on – just
France fended off a spirited second-half comeback from Argentina to win their opening Pool C fixture 23-21 at the Tokyo Stadium.
Les Bleus looked in total control at 20-3 after tries from Gael Fickou and Antoine Dupont, with 20-year-old fly-half Romain Ntamack converting both before kicking two penalties.
However, the Pumas hit back soon after the restart when Guido Petti Pagadizavalgh bundled over from a line-out before Argentina replacement hooker Julian Montoya touched down.
Penalties from Benjamin Urdapilleta then put Argentina ahead, before Camille Lopez’s drop goal saw France edge through the closing stages.
Having weathered early South Africa pressure, New Zealand turned on the style to open their account after 23 minutes.
Sevu Reece sprinted clear, before Beauden Barrett then produced another quick break to maintain the forward momentum.
The ball was eventually cycled across for George Bridge to touch down for an impressive first All Blacks try of the tournament.
Argentina have now lost 10 Test matches in a row but will gain the confidence they can cause England some problems in Pool C.
The Pumas came so close to pulling off what would have been the biggest second-half comeback in Rugby World Cup history – which they had previously achieved when winning against Samoa in 1999 from 16-3 behind.
England v Tonga (Pool C, Sapporo)
All eyes will be on the Sapporo Dome when England kick off their World Cup campaign against Tonga.
Australian head coach Eddie Jones knows his side carry the weight of an expectant nation, everyone determined to make up for the failures on home soil four years ago.
Tonga are ranked 15th in the world and are expected to be swept aside with ease – but as Japan showed with Jones then at the helm, in a World Cup tournament, anything is possible.
Ireland v Scotland (Pool A, Yokohama)
Before England’s opener, Ireland will be out to show their intent against Scotland in Yokohama.
Joe Schmidt’s side enter this tournament as the world’s number one ranked team and looking to peak at exactly the right time.
After losing 57-15 to England at Twickenham last month, Ireland rebounded with back-to-back victories over Wales.
Scotland, meanwhile, came to Japan with more questions than answers – but there is no better stage for Gregor Townsend’s side to finally come good.
Italy v Namibia (Pool B, Higashiosaka)
Any early risers on Sunday will be able to take in Italy’s opening Pool B match against Namibia in Higashiosaka.
The Azzurri have yet to progress to the quarter-finals of a World Cup – and given the calibre of the other teams in their pool, victory against the second-tier African nation is a must.
Namibia, meanwhile, have been hit by injuries, with Ospreys winger Lesley Klim joining captain Johan Deysel on the sidelines.