Rugby World Cup 2011: England, Scotland, Fiji and France Winners on Day 2
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England, Scotland, Fiji and France have all run out winners in their first pool matches of their campaigns in the 2011 Rugby World Cup. The latter three of the four were expected to be easy wins for the favoured sides, but this proved to be far from true as the minnows showed that they are indeed capable of causing an upset.
England 13, Argentina 9
In the feature match of the weekend, England won a tight game against Argentina to gain dominance in Pool B. It was a tight affair that saw both teams bring a physical game and look to crash it up around the fringes.
Both sides were guilty of ill-discipline, with Argentina conceding 15 penalties and England conceding 11. However, neither was able to capitalise on this, both putting on atrocious kicking displays in what were perfect conditions in Dunedin's new indoor stadium, with Argentina landing just three from nine and England landing two from seven.
The decisive moment came when substitute Ben Youngs found a gap in the defence with 15 minutes to go, crossing the line to give England the lead.
It was a game that could have gone either way, but given England score one try to none, it's hard to begrudge them their victory.
Scotland 34, Romania 24
The early game of the day saw Scotland take on the final team to qualify for the World Cup, Romania. Few gave the minnows any chance, with Scotland expected to be far too good across the field. And it certainly started out that way as the Scotland backs broke tackle after tackle and held a handy 12-point lead midway through the first half.
It looked like it was going to be a runaway win for the Scots, but what transpired was a very different story.
The Romanian forwards began to gain dominance and saw that Romania made all the play during the late first half and early second half. They were rewarded with two tries and a handful of penalties, holding the lead at 24-21 with just 10 minutes to play.
But it was too much to ask of the minnows, as momentum swung and Scotland scored 13 late points to take the win, 34-24.
The standout player was Romanian hooker Marius Tincu who led from the front, effecting multiple turnovers and was very strong on the pick and go.
Fiji 49, Namibia 25
The flair of Fiji was too good in the end for Namibia, but the men from Africa were much more competitive than many had expected.
It was Namibia who gained early ascendancy, after conceding an early try, first five-eighth Theuns Kotze kicked a penalty and three dropped goals to give his side a slightly unexpected 12-7 lead.
But this was all Namibia seemed capable of in the first half and Fiji proved too much for them to handle, running from everywhere to score four tries in the first half, taking the score to 32-15 at the break.
But it was a different Namibia side who came out for the second half, scoring two very good tries and showing that they can indeed play rugby.
However, Fiji would go on to score another two tries and ran out comfortable winners in the end.
Special mention must go to Vereniki Goneva, who scored four tries.
France 47, Japan 21
Despite a furious fight from Japan, France were able to avoid an early upset and defeated the Brave Blossoms in a game that was much closer than the score would indicate.
And brave certainly sums up the Japanese performance, who after trailing 20-3 30 minutes in, fought their way back to a competitive position.
James Arlidge was the key player, scoring both tries and overcoming his early goal kicking woes to get the score back to 25-21.
But again, the win alluded the minnow, and France ran in three tries in the final 10 minutes to make the win look convincing.
Tomorrow sees Australia take on Italy, Ireland play USA and South Africa do battle with Wales. If today was anything to go by, we are in for a very exciting World Cup.
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