RWC 2023 R2: Fantastic Fiji, record points and Marler's header
Another exciting round of Rugby World Cup 2023 is behind us and with it brought plenty of intrigue, points, and funny moments. Hosts France survived a bit of a scare, New Zealand bounced back, Wales got the job done, and numbers one and two respectively, Ireland and South Africa, racked up massive scores. Again, the best for last was Fiji, as they picked up a historic win, setting the stage for a fascinating next few weeks.
France vs Uruguay 27-12
France got the job done but were fairly lacklustre at times. Coach Fabien Galthie’s decision to rest key players like Antoine Dupont and Mathieu Jalibert resulted in a spirited performance from Uruguay, who scored the first try. However, France then regained control, with Antoine Hastoy and Peato Mauvaka adding tries. In the end, young winger Louis Bielle-Biarrey sealed the victory. Despite the scare, Les Bleus secured the win and aim to top their pool for the first time in 20 years.
New Zealand vs Namibia 71-3
New Zealand bounced back from their opening Pool A loss to France with an impressive display against Namibia, scoring 11 tries in wet conditions. Cam Roigard notched up two tries, and the All Blacks ran in more scores before halftime. The tries kept coming in the second half, with standout performances from Damian McKenzie and Caleb Clarke. However, a late red card for Ethan de Groot marred an otherwise dominant showing. Roigard was named Player of the Match.
Samoa vs Chile 43-10
Samoa kicked off their Rugby World Cup journey in style with a commanding victory over Chile in Pool D at Stade de Bordeaux. Despite a temporary setback with a yellow card for Samoa’s Ulupano Junior Seuteni and a well-fought Chilean try, Samoa held a solid 19-10 lead at half-time, and then turned up the heat in the second half, scoring three more tries to seal the deal.
Wales vs Portugal 28-8
Wales clashed with a determined Portugal side in Pool C and scraped out a hard-earned win in Nice. The crucial tries, courtesy of Louis Rees-Zammit, Dewi Lake, Jac Morgan, and Taulupe Faletau, helped Warren Gatland’s team secure a valuable bonus point. Portugal, making their first World Cup appearance in 16 years, caught the eye with Nicolas Martins’ impressive try. Despite their best efforts, Wales struggled to find their groove, and a late red card for Vincent Pinto added to the intensity of the match. In the end, Wales clinched the bonus point with Faletau’s late try, bringing a challenging contest to a close.
Ireland vs Tonga 59-16
Ireland lived up to their world No.1 ranking with a commanding performance against a resilient but somewhat disjointed Tonga side. Under the leadership of Johnny Sexton, Ireland asserted their dominance in the first half, securing four tries and building a substantial 31-13 lead. Sexton achieved the historic milestone by becoming Ireland’s all-time leading point scorer. As the game progressed, strategic substitutions and tenacious Tongan defense slowed Ireland’s momentum, but late tries from James Lowe, Bundee Aki, and Rob Herring showcased their status as strong contenders for the tournament, pushing their score past the 50-point mark. They face the Springboks next.
South Africa vs Romania 76-0
South Africa’s Rugby World Cup 2023 journey continued with a 76-0 triumph over Romania at Stade de Bordeaux. The Springboks intensity led to a commanding 33-0 lead by halftime, thanks in large part to Cobus Reinach’s second RWC hat-trick of tries. In the second half, Makazole Mapimpi added three more, while Deon Fourie, Grant Williams (2), and Willie Le Roux also added to the Romanian misery. The Springboks now look ahead to their clash with powerful Ireland.
Australia vs Fiji 22-15
In a historic match, Fiji clinched a memorable 22-15 victory over the Wallabies, marking their first such win since 1954. Fiji capitalised on Australia’s disciplinary struggles, committing just seven penalties compared to Australia’s whopping 18. Simione Kuruvoli’s faultless kicking and a crafty try by Mark Nawaqanitawase did provide a glimmer of hope for Australia. However, Fiji’s 22-8 lead, fortified by an early second-half try from Josua Tuisova, proved insurmountable. The outcome left both teams tied at six points, with Fiji holding the upper hand in the head-to-head record.
England vs Japan 34-12
England took the lead in Pool D with an entertaining 34-12 win over Japan at Stade de Nice. England were ahead 13-9 at halftime thanks to Lewis Ludlam’s early try and George Ford’s accurate kicking. Courtney Lawes’ unconventional try, assisted by an unexpected bounce off Joe Marler’s head, stole the show. Freddie Steward and Joe Marchant added tries, securing the crucial bonus point. George Ford praised Japan’s spirited performance, while coach Steve Borthwick was overjoyed with the bonus point.
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