Tagata Pasifika

The Pacific voice on
New Zealand television
since 1987

Tagata Pasifika

The Pacific voice on
New Zealand television
since 1987

Close margins and heartbreak: RWC Round One Preview

Public Interest Journalism funded through NZ On Air

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Neueli Mauafu | Reporter

The Rugby World Cup officially kicked off in the weekend and delivered a mixed bag of emotions.

Just like that, round one of the Rugby World Cup comes to an end. A lot of expectation and pressure was in the air in the lead up to the opening week, especially with a mouthwatering lineup of pool clashes on schedule.

FRANCE: 27 NEW ZEALAND: 13 The opening match saw hosts France take on All Blacks, who have come into the tournament ranked 4th on the world placings. Despite a double from newcomer Mark Telea, France were too good, defeating their New Zealand rivals 27-13.

Mark Telea scores his second try against France. Photo: World Rugby.

“It was a battle. It was going back and forth, back and forth and in that last 20 [minutes] our discipline let us down and we weren’t clinical enough in our own half and they punished us” replacement captain Ardie Savea said.

Savea was a late change as captain, as Sam Cane had to sit out the match due to a back injury. The late changes however was not an excuse for their loss as Savea stated.

“It’s tough when you lose your skip but I thought the boys that came in filled the job right. It’s unfortunate we didn’t get the win tonight.”

“We lost the battle tonight but we’ve still got a war to win.”

ITALY: 52 NAMIBIA: 8 In the same pool group, Italy opened their world cup account in style with a total blowout of Namibia 52-8.

The Italians proved too strong for their African opponents, running a total of seven tries to Namibia’s one. 

Hooker Hame Faiva was one of the seven try scorers for Italy who showed superb skills for his team throughout the match. 

Faiva who is of Tongan descent is part of the new younger crop of players that Italy head coach Kieran Crowley has introduced to the international stage over the past year or so.

Hinckley Vaovasa tackles James Lowe of Ireland. Photo: World Rugby.

IRELAND: 82 ROMANIA: 8 It was a very different storyline in Pool B, as favourites Ireland sent a strong statement to the rest of the teams with a convincing 74 point win over Romania.

Romanian fullback and Samoan born New Zealander Hinckley Vaovasa opened up the point scoring with a try in the third minute. It was to be the only try for Vaovasa and his team as the Irish crossed over the tryline 12 times.

Midfielder Bundee Aki was part of the try scoring recipients for Ireland, as he dotted down a five pointer for himself in the first half. Despite the big margin win, Ireland flanker Peter O Mahony credited Romania for their efforts.

“It was difficult. Credit to Romania. You saw the way they rocked up. In the first two or three minutes they put us under the sticks. It was a wake-up call for us – ‘Welcome to World Cup 2023’.

“Every team are here to play their very best and Romania were absolutely that today”

Jordan Petaia in action for Wallabies vs Georgia. Photo: World Rugby.

AUSTRALIA: 35 GEORGIA: 15 The pool C opener between Australia and Georgia was a hard fought battle with Australia escaping with a scrappy 35-15 win.

Captained by Samoan Will Skelton, the Australians win was the first under new coach Eddie Jones and was also a well needed moment for the team having struggled in the Rugby Championship and Bledisloe series.

Early tries for centre Jordan Petaia and wing Mark Nawaqanitawase helped the Wallabies with their road to victory. Prop Taniela Tupou was also instrumental in setting up a try of his intercept. The match also marked Tupou’s 50th test match for Australia.

“Eddie [Jones, head coach] asked us at the start of the week to have a fast start. We prepared really well for this game and I’m happy with the result.” Skelton said.

“Hopefully this is just the start and we can roll on and get some momentum”

England’s Manu Tuilagi smiles after helping his team get a turnover during the Rugby World Cup Pool D match between England and Argentina in the Stade de Marseille. Photo: Planet Rugby.

ENGLAND: 27 ARGENTINA: 10 A hat-trick of drop goals from England first five eight George Ford guided his team to a win over strong opponents Argentina.

Despite a yellow card to flanker Tom Curry that was later upgraded to red, England managed to hold out a strong Argentinian attack wave and scrape over for the win.

Midfielder and veteran Manusamoa Tuilagi was key for England, and had provided cover on the flanker role in Currys absence. 

JAPAN: 42 CHILE: 12 2019 quarterfinalists Japan kicked off their campaign in style with a comfortable 42:!2 win over Chile. Being the second match of pool d, the brave blossoms showed their style and flair and were too strong for Chile.

Second row Amato Fakatava scored two tries helping his team in securing a bonus point win at Stadium Toulouse. Fakatava was also awarded the man of the match and admitted that it was a “pretty rough” start to their campaign against Chile.

“We expected Chile to come out strong. It’s pretty hot but I was happy to be out there with the boys. My first World Cup…unbelievable. I don’t know how I made it here.”

Kurt-Lee Arendse of South Africa scores his team’s second try ahead of Blair Kinghorn of Scotland. Photo: Michael Steele/World Rugby/Getty Images.

SOUTH AFRICA: 18 SCOTLAND: 3 Defending champions South Africa got their Rugby World Cup 2023 campaign off to a winning start by beating Scotland 18-3 at Stade de Marseille on Sunday.

The teams went into the break with the Springboks only 6-3 ahead after two Manie Libbok penalties and one from Scotland fly-half Finn Russell.

Sione Tuipulotu who is of Tongan descent donned the 12 jersey for Scotland and was paired with Huw Jones in the midfield. Scotland have a 10 day restto prepare for their next fixture against Tonga.

Fiji vs Wales. Photo: World Rugby.

WALES: 32 FIJI: 26 Rounding off the opening round of the Rugby World Cup was Fiji clashing with powerhouse Wales.

In a nail biting finish, Wales managed to just sneak away with a win after a great comeback surge from the Fijians. Captain Waisea Nayacalevu who scored Fiji’s first try said that although they lost he was proud of the boys efforts.

We are really disappointed because we put a massive amount of effort in and credit to the boys, we worked hard until the end.

“That last pass, man…it’s quite hard but we have got to learn from that and move on 

Flying Fijians head coach Simon Raiwalui said his side made “too many mistakes”.  “We were just not clinical enough,” he added. “We had two or three try-scoring opportunities and we had two disallowed – we have got to take our chances next week.”

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