Day three of Rugby World Cup 2011 came with just as much excitement and drama as the previous two. It saw the Springboks, Wallabies and Ireland all claim their first wins—as was to be expected—but as it transpired, the way these games were won was anything but what was expected.
South Africa 17 Wales 16
South Africa edged out Wales in a thriller that saw the favoured Springboks have to come from behind in a sticky situation to claim the narrowest of wins.
After an early try to Francois Steyn, it looked as though it would be plain sailing for the Springboks, but a determined Welsh team proved a much tougher nut to crack than first thought, holding the South Africans scoreless for the remainder of the first half and heading to the break trailing just 10-6.
The first 20 minutes of the second half saw Wales dominate both territory and possession. They played a patient game, holding onto possession for long periods of time while not necessarily going anywhere. Jamie Roberts was a threat in the midfield, hitting the ball well and putting his side on the front foot. And eventually it showed, with Wales kicking a penalty and then scoring a well worked try, taking the score to 16-10.
But it wasn't to be.
The Springboks were given a chance late in the game and they took, as replacement Francois Hougaard went straight through a gap to score the winning try under the posts.
The game wasn't without controversy, as a Welsh penalty goal that seemed to have gone over was deemed to be wide by the officials.
Australia 32 Italy 6
A strong second half saw the Wallabies take what was in the end a comfortable win over the Italians.
But the first half was far from what the Australians were expecting, as Italy met their more fancied opponents up front, giving them all sorts of problems and depriving their lethal backs of any good ball. It was a real scrap and the teams went to the break with the score at 6-all and the game very much in the balance.
But the pace of the game eventually caught up with the Italians, who were unable to save a second half onslaught from an Australian side who scored four quick tries to give them a bonus point win.
Ireland 22 USA 10
As expected, the Irish took the win over the USA, but it proved to be a much tougher battle than predicted, as they struggled to cross the USA line despite gaining dominance up front.
And that sums up how it went. The Irish pack was dominant at set piece time with the USA scrum in particular struggling to hold the weight of a far superior Irish pack.
The Eagles were then forced to make tackle after tackle if they were to stay in the game. And they did.
It was an unbelievable display of guts from one of the tournament's minnows.
But in the end the pressure told and Ireland were able to cross for three tries.
A last minute intercept saw that the USA didn't leave try-less, taking the final score to 22-10.
The World Cup now takes a break for two days, returning on Wednesday, with Samoa vs. Namibia, Tonga vs. Canada and Scotland vs. Georgia.