Written by Staff Writer
20 Sep, 2015 | 8:10 am
Japan pulled off perhaps the biggest upset in Rugby World Cup history on Saturday, September 19, defeating two-time World Cup champions South Africa 34-32 in a ferocious encounter at Brighton Community Stadium. Replacement Karne Hesketh raced in at the corner in the 84th minute to snatch victory from a pulsating contest in the Pool B opener.
Georgia held out for a surprise 17-10 win over Tonga in a bruising and scrappy game at Gloucester’s Kingsholm Stadium on Saturday, September 19.
The opening match of Pool C saw Georgia take a 10-3 lead into halftime with a try from their captain Mamuka Gorgodze and a penalty from veteran fullback Merab Kvirikashvili. Handling errors plagued both teams in the second half, but flanker Giorgi Tkhilaishvili managed to touch down for Georgia’s second try with the Tongan defence stretched after a meandering run from Kvirikashvili.
Tonga, who are ranked four places above Georgia, snatched a late consolation try through winger Fetu’u Vainikolo after they had two previous efforts disallowed.
Also at the Millennium stadium the slick Ireland team put an underwhelming warm-up campaign firmly behind them by crushing Canada 50-7 in their Rugby World Cup Pool D opener.
The Six Nations champions, recently ranked second in the world behind New Zealand and looking to go beyond the quarter-finals for the first time, were out of sight after scoring four first-half tries. Ireland took full advantage of Canada skipper Jamie Cudmore’s yellow card, with Sean O’Brien, Iain Henderson and Johnny Sexton.
In Twickenham, France made light work of an indisciplined Italy to begin their Rugby World Cup campaign with a straightforward 32-10 Pool D victory. Second-half tries from Rabah Slimani and Nicolas Mas added gloss to the scoreline after the boot of Frederic Michalak had punished the Italians in the first half.
France made the most of Italian errors to kick five first-half penalties and take a 15-3 lead into the interval and extended their advantage to 25-3 swiftly after the restart with Slimani’s try and another penalty from Michalak.
The result gave France a solid platform to make it out of a pool that also includes Romania, Canada and Ireland, who opened their campaign on Saturday with a crushing 50-7 victory over the Canadians.
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