South Africa registers their first win as Wales prevent a potential Rugby World Cup upset against Fiji

In Paris, South Africa commenced their Rugby World Cup title defense with a victory over Scotland, and Manie Libbok, the fly-half, earned the man-of-the-match award. Meanwhile, Wales managed to withstand a spirited comeback from Fiji.

Libbok’s standout moment came when he provided a no-look assist to Kurt-Lee Arendse in the second half, showcasing South Africa’s clinical performance in the Marseille heat as they secured an 18-3 win. Pieter-Steph Du Toit, a former World Player of the Year, had earlier scored a try for Jacques Nienaber’s team in Pool B.

Their next significant challenge on the path to the quarter-finals will be against the top-ranked team in the world, Ireland, on September 23, followed by a match against Romania six days later.

Nienaber commented, “I believe it could have been a tricky match. Scotland is a formidable team, and their fifth-place ranking in the world is well-deserved,” in an interview with the BBC.

“I believed we had a degree of control in the first half, but we had to work hard to secure the win.”

In an earlier phase of the match, Springboks center Jesse Kriel escaped a yellow card despite making contact with the head of Scotland No. 8 Jack Dempsey during a tackle. This incident resembled the one that led to Tom Curry receiving a red card in England’s victory over Argentina on Saturday, raising concerns about the consistency of refereeing decisions just three days into the tournament.

Scotland head coach Gregor Townsend commented, “It appeared to be a head-to-head collision, and I was expecting the television match official (TMO) to intervene.”

Fiji late comeback

Wales initiated their campaign with a 32-26 victory over Fiji in Bordeaux, successfully avoiding a loss to the highest-ranked team in Pool C.

Winger Josh Adams scored one of the four tries for Wales, while experienced fly-half Dan Biggar surpassed the 100-point mark for his country in World Cups, surpassing Neil Jenkins’ previous record of 98 points.

“You can never underestimate Fiji. They could have won the game right at the end,” Adams mentioned in an interview with S4C. Despite leading by 18 points with less than 15 minutes left to play, he added, “We don’t want another game like that,” looking ahead to next Saturday’s match against Portugal.

Fiji, coached by former Newport lock Simon Raiwalui, staged a late comeback with tries from Josua Tuisova and Mesake Doge in the final seven minutes. However, they couldn’t replicate their historic 2007 World Cup victory over Wales.

Before the match, the Pacific islanders were brimming with confidence, especially after achieving their first-ever win against England the previous month. They may have been frustrated by referee Matthew Carley’s reluctance to show yellow cards to the ill-disciplined Welsh team.

Fiji’s chances of reaching the quarter-finals for the first time in 16 years now hinge on their upcoming game against Australia on the following Sunday.

Early Chile surprise

On the same day, Japan, the hosts of the 2019 World Cup, defeated debutants Chile 42-12 in Toulouse in Pool D, although they conceded a try just six minutes into the match.

Amato Fakatava, a Brave Blossoms lock, scored two tries during the game. However, there was a controversial tackling incident that drew parallels to Curry’s red card.

Shortly before halftime, Los Condores’ captain, Martin Sigren, received a yellow card for a high tackle on Japan’s Kotaro Matsushima, during which their heads made contact.

An additional positive note for Japan is that captain Kazuki Himeno is expected to return from a calf injury in time for their match against the 2003 champions, England, scheduled for next Sunday.

Following a three-day break, Thursday will see the host nation, France, play their second match of the competition against Uruguay in Lille. Les Bleus achieved an impressive opening victory over New Zealand on Friday.

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