The 2019 Rugby World Cup kicked off without any upsets nor fabulous performances, but quite a few intriguing matches. Japan did just about enough against Russia, New Zealand staved off South Africa, Australia put a slow start behind them against Fiji, and France almost let a comfortable lead slip away against Argentina. Almost.
Japan – Russia: 30-10
Not a brilliant performance by the hosts, but the lack of fitness for this level of Rugby on the Russian side made the difference in the end. Kotaro Matsushima scored a hat-trick of tries to help the Japanese side get a much-needed bonus point. However, this type of sloppiness early on will surely not be enough against Scotland and Ireland. Perhaps not Samoa as well.
New Zealand – South Africa: 23-13
A “true” final ended up going the All Blacks way. All the confidence and dominance from the Springboks’ Rugby Championship triumphs weren’t enough this time. South Africa started well, but at the first sign of mistakes the All Blacks soared for two quick tries by George Bridge and Scott Barrett, enabling them to keep control for the rest of the match. A Pieter-Steph du Toit try followed by Handre Pollard’s drop goal put some pressure on the All Blacks. However, Richard Mo’unga was clinical with his kicking, enough to fend off a comeback attempt.
France – Argentina: 23-21
England should be happy with this one. Not with the result, but the inconsistency both sides showed in a match eventually decided by a 69th minute drop goal by Camille Lopez. France looked fabulous through the first half, but the Pumas’ toughness and relentless pressure turned the tides in the second half. It wasn’t enough, and the 1 point for making it a close match in the end isn’t going to be much consolation if they don’t beat England.
Australia – Fiji: 39-21
Fiji always start off running and the Wallabies weren’t prepared. But in classic Fijian fashion, the unforced errors began, and Australia took over the match. Tolu Latu scored a couple of tries en route to claim player of the match. He’s also en route to become the undisputed best prop in the world with more of these performances. While Australia didn’t have as many good minutes in this match as they hoped for, turning a slightly complicated situation into a comfortable victory.
Day 3 Matches:
Ireland vs Scotland (Group A)
Italy vs Namibia (Group B)
England vs Tonga (Group C)