Tournament hosts England, kicked off against Fiji who gave them a good battle, but England overcame the test and secured an important win 34-16. England need to play better to ensure victory against Wales and Australia.
The first Saturday of the tournament saw two shocks, firstly Georgia beat the Tongans, who many thought would do well at this tournament, and secondly one of the greatest sporting shocks of all time, Japan beat the powerhouse of South Africa with a last try in Brighton. The South Africans have been complimentary about their opposition’s achievement, but I suspect they will be licking their wounds privately and fear being potentially eliminated in the group stages, something no South African rugby fan wants to contemplate.
France and Samoa opened with victories against Italy and the USA. Wales and Ireland also secured decent victories of lesser opposition, however Wales suffered another injury setback when their hat trick hero from Saturday, Cory Allen tore his hamstring and will play no further part in the tournament. Full back Liam Williams is also nursing an injury and doubt hangs over him. The list of injuries could be music to the Wallabies ears.
New Zealand started their campaign with a hard fought victory over Argentina who pushed them all the way and gave them a bit of a scare. Discipline was a big talking point with both Richie McCaw and Conrad Smith being sent to the sin bin. The All Blacks will need to play better than that if they are to progress to the latter stages of the tournament and with no real injury worries and lots of players getting game time, there is time for the All Black’s machine to step up into full gear.
Australia open their campaign tomorrow in Cardiff against Fiji, a victory is essential to keep the pressure on Wales and England. Coach Michael Cheika has named a strong starting XV with both David Pocock and Michael Hooper selected. With their next game coming 4 days later against Uruguay, Cheika knows he is going to have to use the depth of the squad, he said “It’s important to give everyone an opportunity early on and we’ve done that throughout our lead-up to this tournament.”