Joe Schmidt allayed injury fears over Johnny Sexton following Ireland's commanding Rugby World Cup win over Scotland but Bundee Aki and Peter O'Mahony are in a race against time to face hosts Japan.

Sexton, the reigning World Rugby Player of the Year, required treatment on his right thigh in the first half of the 27-3 victory in rainy Yokohama and headed to the bench just before the hour.

The star fly-half gave up kicking duties to Conor Murray to spark concerns of a muscle problem but Ireland coach Schmidt assured the change was purely a precaution.

"He was able to kick. That's us being super cautious," Schmidt told RTE Sport.

"Because we got such a good start we felt we could cover him up a little bit.

"We got him and Conor off reasonably early. I thought they were really big for us in the pivot area today with their kicking game and their game sense.

"I think they controlled things really well for us in that first half, got us through the first 15 minutes of the second half and then I felt we were probably far enough in front and close enough to that last quarter that we could bring them off and get them ready for a six-day turnaround, which is going to be tight with Japan having an eight-day turnaround."

There is less certainty over Aki and O'Mahony, who both failed head injury assessments (HIA) and are now in doubt for Saturday's second Pool A game.

Schimidt added: "They're both fine now, which is reassuring. But we'll have to wait. They have to go through the protocol of HIA 2 and HIA 3 to determine whether or not they've suffered a concussion.

"For us, six days to turn around is the minimum after a concussion.

"We'll see how they are symptomatically. But right here, right now there is a bit of reassurance over those two."

Injuries proved to be Ireland's only problems in their tournament opener as the world's top-ranked nation scored four unanswered tries to secure a comfortable bonus-point win, much to the satisfaction of captain Rory Best.

"Obviously with the [wet] conditions in the second half it can become a bit more of an arm-wrestle but we know how good of a team [Scotland] are and we're delighted with that win," Best said.

"We're under no illusions, that was a good start for us but we know and Joe and the rest of the management will show us tomorrow how much we need to improve going forward."

Conor O'Shea was left frustrated by Italy's display against Namibia, despite his side starting their Rugby World Cup campaign with a 47-22 victory in Osaka.

Italy started a World Cup campaign with a win for the first time since 1991, with the Azzurri scoring seven tries in their encounter with the Pool B minnows.

It was not all plain sailing as Namibia struck first before O'Shea's side sparked into life.

A brilliant offload from Federico Ruzza's teed up Tito Tebaldi to burst clear and put Italy in control before half-time, and they tightened their grip after the interval.

However, with matches against South Africa and defending champions New Zealand still to come, O'Shea was not impressed with what he saw.

"We'll have to move on from that pretty quickly," he said. "It wasn't very pretty. There were too many errors in it and it was difficult conditions at times in the second half, which doesn't excuse it.

"We're disappointed with the way we played. We have a job to do in these first two games and you know that's not the true version of us, but we'll improve massively by the time we come to Thursday.

"It's a quick turnaround and you make lots of changes when you have the game in the bag that sometimes you shouldn't but you lose the continuity you might have started to build up.

"We just didn't get the pace into the game that we wanted. It was difficult out there and credit to Namibia anyway, but we'll take five points and we'll move on quickly."

Player of the match Ruzza, meanwhile, believes Italy deserved the win, having managed to overcome some turbulent weather conditions in Osaka.

"It was a tough match, the first of the World Cup, so everybody wants to put in a good performance. It was a very tough first half," Ruzza said.

"But we stayed in the game, respected the game plan and managed to get the points.

"We managed the conditions well, played well in the line outs. Now we turn the page for a tough match with Canada."

Ireland have never made it past the quarter-final stage of a Rugby World Cup, but on Sunday Joe Schmidt's side proved they should not be discounted this time around.

A blistering first-half display was enough to topple Scotland 27-3, arguably Ireland's toughest rivals in Pool A, though hosts Japan will be no pushovers.

Heading into the tournament as the world's number one side seemed somewhat undeserved based on Ireland's performances, with Schmidt's side having failed to impress in a poor Six Nations campaign, while they were hammered by England - among the favourites to challenge holders New Zealand - in a warm-up match last month.

Successive victories over Six Nations champions Wales showed the talent was still there, even if this World Cup may have come a year too late for the men in green.

But with Schmidt determined to end his tenure on a high and the quality in his squad evident, Ireland - inspired by brilliant performances from stalwarts Johnny Sexton and Rory Best - made their case in emphatic fashion in a rainswept Yokohama.

SEXTON REIGNS SUPREME

Sexton's injury at World Cup 2015 ultimately proved a decisive blow, with the fly-half missing the quarter-final defeat to Argentina in Cardiff.

He has struggled with injuries throughout 2019, having been taken off with a head injury in Ireland's Six Nations clash with Scotland in January before missing much of the World Cup preparation due to a thumb injury.

Assistant coach Matt Taylor promised the press Scotland would "smash" the World Rugby Player of the year, but Sexton showed no signs that warning had got to him, putting in a superb display, organising Ireland's defence and entrusting the forwards to do the rest.

The 34-year-old did, however, sustain a thigh injury, with Conor Murray taking over kicking duties and - should Ireland manage to beat Japan - Schmidt may be tempted to wrap his star man, who was subbed off before the hour, in cotton wool for the rest of the pool stage.

RORY BACK AT HIS BEST

Rory Best's captaincy has come under scrutiny in the build-up to the World Cup, though the 37-year-old - who will retire after the tournament - proved that there is still plenty of life in this old dog.

His 12th-minute try, a typically powerful drive following a lineout, cast aside any doubts over Ireland's approach and the skipper, aided by Sexton, led by example throughout at the International Stadium.

He became the fourth Irish captain to score in a World Cup match, while Best is also the fourth oldest player, behind Diego Ormaechea, Fakahau Valu and Nick Easter, to go over in the history in the tournament.

NEW BLOOD AT THE BACK

"Their enthusiasm is something that's contagious, their ability to get themselves into the game," Schmidt said of Jordan Larmour, Andrew Conway and Jacob Stockdale, who were selected to make their World Cup debuts.

Without experienced duo Keith Earls and Rob Kearney, who were not risked as they recover from injuries, Schmidt had no doubt over the ability of his new-look back-line and his confidence was not misplaced.

All three players were composed in possession and in the ruck, with Conway adding further gloss when he raced over for a bonus-point securing try just before the hour.

Ireland eased to a 27-3 Pool A win over Scotland in Yokohama on Sunday after a dominant first half in their Rugby World Cup opener.

With both sides looking for a strong start to surely avoid a quarter-final against New Zealand by topping the group, it was Joe Schmidt's top-ranked side who quickly accelerated out of sight.

James Ryan, Rory Best and Tadhg Furlong all crossed inside the opening 25 minutes and there was no way back for Scotland, who also had Hamish Watson carted off with a concerning knee injury before the break.

A scrappy second half was hampered by wet weather but Ireland claimed the bonus point with Andrew Conway's try shortly before the hour-mark.

It took Ireland just six minutes to take control, with Iain Henderson charging through a series of tackles to get his side to within touching distance of the try line, allowing Ryan to finally power over.

That lead was soon stretched further as Best drove Ireland forward at the back of a relentless maul following a lineout and, even with Ryan Wilson also able to get hands on the ball, twisted his body to touch down.

Greig Laidlaw dispatched a penalty to at least get Scotland on the scoreboard, but there was no stopping Ireland and they too easily found space following a scrum under the posts for Furlong to get the third.

Significant rainfall early in the second half added another dimension to the contest and slowed the attempted Scottish response.

Instead, Conway challenged for a high kick from the excellent Conor Murray and ultimately profited, with the wing found free on the right to dance inside one challenge and score.

Jack Carty, on for Johnny Sexton, added further gloss to the scoreline with a penalty, as even a yellow card for Tadhg Beirne - for failing to release - did not allow Scotland to belatedly reply.
 

Irish power too much

Scotland were largely able to match Ireland in terms of possession, but each and every error in the midfield was preyed upon. CJ Stander was particularly proficient at finding gaps and Schmidt's men were simply too strong for their opponents once within sight of the try line.

Sexton suffering?

Scotland assistant coach Matt Taylor had suggested they were going to "smash" Sexton, as they had in the Six Nations. In truth, they struggled to get close enough to the World Rugby Player of the Year, yet there was still concern for Ireland. The fly-half twice received treatment to his right thigh in the first half.

Murray was handed kicking duties before Carty later replaced Sexton.

What's next?

Ireland face a potential banana skin against hosts Japan next Saturday, while Scotland have to wait an extra two days to face Samoa in their second pool match.

Italy had plenty to celebrate as Sergio Parisse and his team opened their Rugby World Cup campaign with a 47-22 victory over Namibia on Sunday.

Not since 1991 against the United States had Italy started a World Cup with a win but that changed against minnows Namibia in Osaka, where the Azzurri scored seven tries to three in the Group B clash.

Italy captain Parisse also earned a share of history, joining Mauro Bergamasco and Samoa's Brian Lima as only the third player to feature at five World Cups

Eyeing their first World Cup win at the 20th attempt, Namibia struck first in the fifth minute. A sensational passage of play featuring pace and slick hands seeing the speedy Damian Stevens emphatically cross over, and Cliven Loubser added the extras in a memorable moment.

However, Italy responded six minutes later courtesy of a penalty try and it sparked Conor O'Shea's men.

A mix of desperation and determination kept Namibia on level terms until Tommaso Allan scored underneath the posts and converted his own try approaching the half-hour mark after a move that started in Italy's own half.

Italy moved clear 21-7 on the stroke of half-time after Federico Ruzza's brilliant no-look offload allowed Tito Tebaldi to burst clear as Allan added another two points.

Greeted by sunny skies in the first half, the second 40 minutes started with rain lashing the stadium and it benefited Italy, who scored two tries within seven minutes of the restart via Edoardo Padovani and Carlo Canna.

There was another enjoyable moment for Namibia approaching the hour mark after J.C. Greyling charged into the far corner and Chad Plato also had the crowd on their feet at the death, after Italy pair Jake Polledri and Matteo Minozzi had crossed over.

 

Italy show glimpses in pursuit of knockout round

The Azzurri have never progressed beyond the group stage of a World Cup, but Italy impressed at times in mixed conditions. If not for some sloppy hands, the margin of victory could have been greater. It was, however, the second most points Italy have scored, behind the 53 managed against Russia in 2011.

Namibia no pushovers

Namibia enjoyable a memorable opening to the match and while they walked away emptyhanded, there was a lot to like about this team, who displayed plenty of grit and skill.

What's next?

Italy will face Canada in Fukuoka on Thursday, while Namibia take on South Africa two days later in Toyota.

Assistant coach Matt Taylor says Scotland intend to "smash" Ireland icon Johnny Sexton in the sides' Rugby World Cup opener on Sunday. 

World Rugby Player of the Year Sexton was taken off in the first half of Ireland's clash with Scotland in the Six Nations in January. The 34-year-old did not return following a head injury assessment. 

Ireland ran out winners on that occasion, but Taylor believes Scotland's aggressive tactics against the fly-half were effective and suggested Sexton should expect more of the same. 

However, Taylor believes top-ranked Ireland will also look to get physical with Finn Russell, Scotland's star man. 

"We did a good a job on [Sexton in February] and I think a lot of teams took a leaf out of our book in terms of getting up and trying to smash him," the coach told reporters. 

"He's a brave player, he plays it right to the line. But if he plays right to the line, you tend to smash people and that is what we intend to do. 

"They've kept him a bit wrapped in cotton wool over the last period because he has taken a lot of hits and knocks. 

"We will certainly be trying to do that to him and they will be trying to do that to Finn as well. 

"I love Finn as a player - although Sexton is a very good player. They're quite different types of players. Finn plays things as he sees them, I'd say, while Johnny is a bit more regimented in the way [Ireland coach] Joe Schmidt likes to play. 

"We're looking to put a lot of pressure on him like we did last time we played. That's going to be an objective again for us."

Wales coach Warren Gatland hopes Alun Wyn Jones can earn more plaudits with a fine performance in his record-equalling 129th Test appearance against Georgia.

The Six Nations Grand Slam champions will be the last of the big hitters to kick-off their Rugby World Cup campaign when they take to the field in Toyota on Monday.

As expected, Gatland has named Jones in his line-up and that means the veteran lock will tie Gethin Jenkins' Wales appearance record.

Jones will be key to Wales' hopes of following up their Six Nations success with worldwide domination in Japan and Gatland is keen to see his star man deliver once again in a red shirt.

If he comes through that challege unscathed, the 34-year-old would then be able to claim the record outright in a huge Pool D clash against Australia.

"He has been absolutely outstanding in his services to Welsh rugby," Gatland said of Jones. "He's got better with age - he is like a good wine.

"Hopefully, he comes out of Monday night's game fit and available and, if selected, as he always says, against Australia, he will get that chance to break that Welsh record.

"He doesn't like me talking about these things, but he deserves all the accolades.

"He has been just such a great servant to Welsh rugby and the pleasing thing for me in the last couple of years is that recognition hasn't been just from Wales, it has been worldwide, too.

"People have realised what a contribution he has given to world rugby in terms of his performances and leadership.

"That's pleasing to see, that someone from Wales is recognised as one of the best players in the world in his position."

While Wales have their captain fit and available, opponents Georgia are missing skipper Merab Sharikadze, who is still recovering from injury.

Gatland is not taking them lightly, though, adding: "With Georgia, we know how strong they are up front and their scrum is a weapon. We've got to be competent at scrum time.

"The boys had a good training session this morning. We're really excited - we can't wait for Monday night."


PLAYERS TO WATCH

Wales - Dan Biggar

Gareth Anscombe's pre-tournament knee injury created a space at fly-half and, with Rhys Patchell among the replacements recovering from his own ailment, Biggar is the man who starts the campaign at number 10. He has started just two games for his country in 2019 but has experience on the world stage, having kicked 23 points to see off England four years ago.

Georgia - Tedo Abzhandadze

Abzhandadze, the opposite fly-half, was a star of Georgia's Under-20 team and, still just 20, has earned the starting job at the World Cup, playing what will be only his 10th Test against Wales. His early senior performances have not been entirely convincing and he will need to step up in a big way against the Welsh.


KEY OPTA FACTS

- The only previous meeting between these sides took place in November 2017 when Wales earned a hard-fought 13-6 win.
- Wales come into this fixture having lost their past two Rugby World Cup games. They have never lost three or more in succession at the tournament.
- Among Tier 1 sides, only Argentina have lost as many Rugby World Games to non-Tier 1 opposition as Wales (both three). The Welsh were beaten by Samoa in 1991 and 1999, as well as by Fiji in 2007.
- Georgia have lost 10 out of 10 Rugby World Cup games against Tier 1 opposition, with those defeats coming by an average margin of 33 points.
- Georgia won the 2019 Rugby Europe Championship, the eighth time in the past nine seasons they have triumphed at the second-tier tournament.

Steve Hansen is confident there is more to come from New Zealand after they kicked off their Rugby World Cup defence with an impressive 23-13 victory over South Africa.

The All Blacks had to withstand plenty of pressure in the opening quarter of their Pool B opener in Yokohama, but they seized control of the game in a stunning six-minute spell featuring tries for George Bridge and Scott Barrett.

Although South Africa fought back impressively after the interval, New Zealand were able to remain ahead and extend their streak of never losing a World Cup pool game.

"We're pretty happy with where we're at at the moment," said coach Hansen in his post-match news conference. "Everybody knew that this was going to be a big match and obviously it was. Both teams played very well at times and we're very happy to come out with a win.

"Were we perfect? No. But you're never gonna be at this stage of the tournament and that was the interesting part about this game for both teams.

"You're not in the swing of the tournament and right from the get-go you've got probably the biggest game of the group. We've come out on top. [I'm] very happy that we did, but there's plenty of stuff we can work on."

South Africa coach Rassie Erasmus highlighted New Zealand's discipline as a key factor in the outcome.

"Discipline was always going to be a massive thing for us," said All Blacks skipper Kieran Read.

"South Africa love to build pressure through those penalties and they've got a kicker like [Handre] Pollard who showed right from the outset he can kick from 50 metres.

"It was a conscious decision from us to make sure we didn't give away too many penalties and we probably haven't been as smart throughout this whole year, but we were at a different level today."

Rassie Erasmus felt South Africa's Rugby World Cup defeat to New Zealand owed much to the All Blacks' superior discipline.

The Springboks applied plenty of pressure in the first quarter of Saturday's blockbuster Pool B opener but saw their 3-0 lead quickly turn into a 17-3 deficit, the defending world champions hitting top gear in a stunning six-minute blitz.

A Pieter-Steph du Toit try and Handre Pollard's second penalty gave South Africa hope after the interval, only for Richie Mo'unga and Beauden Barrett to land three-pointers as New Zealand triumphed 23-13.

In a post-match news conference, Erasmus said: "I think they won it. I don't think we lost it. Two tries to one, they definitely deserved to win the game.

"If you concede, I think, 11 penalties to two, you're going to struggle to beat New Zealand. I think discipline was our biggest downfall. I don't think we can moan about anything.

"As I said, I think the penalty count was 11-2, so we did 11 things wrong. We have to go and fix it. They only did two things wrong, which is unbelievably well disciplined by them. That battle, we lost.

"I give all credit to New Zealand. When we had territorial and scoreboard pressure and they had that one opportunity to pounce, they pounced."

No team has ever won the World Cup after losing in the pool stage, but Erasmus believes his side can buck that trend.

"I think we can fight back. I think even in the game we fought back," he stated. "To be down 17-3 and get back to 17-13 and being in their 22 ... there were stages when we really fought back well."

With a smile, he added: "If you're grouped with New Zealand in your pool, you've got a good chance of not going undefeated through your pool.

"And then you have to fight back and try and get to the final, for the first time in history not being unbeaten. We have to go [down] that route now."

Erasmus said Trevor Nyakane (calf) was the only Springboks player to pick up an injury, attributing late concerns over Cheslin Kolbe and Du Toit to cramp.

New Zealand were far from perfect in their Rugby World Cup opener, but a six-minute spell of breathtaking brilliance showed why the two-time defending champions remain the team to beat.

While the All Blacks are understandably many people's favourites to prevail in Japan, it is fair to say their status as rugby's dominant nation has come under more questioning than usual in recent months.

South Africa won this year's Rugby Championship, in which Steve Hansen's men suffered a stunning 47-26 defeat to Australia - albeit one they avenged the following week with a 36-0 thumping of the Wallabies to retain the Bledisloe Cup.

The All Blacks have also been displaced by Ireland at the top of World Rugby's rankings and the likes of Wales and England have been tipped to mount strong challenges for glory over the coming weeks.

For 20 minutes on Saturday, any doubts over New Zealand's strength were heightened as South Africa started superbly in a blockbuster Pool B opener in Yokohama that could well serve as a dress rehearsal for the final at the same venue on November 2.

Throughout the first quarter, the Springboks dominated territorially, their ferocious line-speed causing no end of problems.

However, one misplaced pass from Faf de Klerk - with South Africa leading 3-0 - triggered a sudden shift in momentum as the All Blacks demonstrated a ruthless streak no other team can match.

The Boks initially got off lightly when De Klerk's wild pass from a ruck was pounced upon by Richie Mo'unga, who kicked ahead before being halted just short of the line. Makazole Mapimpi was penalised for not releasing the number 10, but the wing avoided a yellow card and the All Blacks merely picked up three points to level the score when a try had appeared highly likely.

New Zealand had found their mojo, though, and in a matter of minutes they took complete control with two stunning tries in quick succession.

Hansen's decision to start Beauden Barrett - widely viewed as the world's finest fly-half - at full-back in order to accommodate Mo'unga has prompted much debate, but the presence of two playmakers was certainly influential as the All Blacks hit top gear.

Mo'unga's cross-field kick to Sevu Reece started the move that led to the first try. Reece promptly skinned the out-of-position Mapimpi before working the ball through Aaron Smith to a galloping Ardie Savea. From the next phase, Barrett surged through a gap from second receiver and laid on a simple finish for George Bridge.

Barrett was also heavily involved in the passage of play that led up to the All Blacks' second score, which was finished by namesake Scott Barrett after Anton Lienert-Brown had dazzlingly weaved past five defenders.

Having been 3-0 down and on the rack, New Zealand were suddenly 14 points to the good and their opponents understandably appeared somewhat stunned for the remainder of the half.

To their credit, the Springboks did battle back gamely after the interval, but they had been left with too much to do.

It has been 12 years since the All Blacks last lost a World Cup fixture. Their magical six-minute blitz on Saturday suggests it will take something special to deny them another title.

Kieran Read was pleased with the clinical edge New Zealand showed as they saw off South Africa 23-13 in their opening game at the Rugby World Cup.

The Springboks started the highly anticipated Pool B clash in Yokohama - which will also host the final - positively but only scored three points through Handre Pollard during their period of dominance.

When Richie Mo'unga set upon a loose pass from Faf de Klerk and was illegally challenged by Makazole Mapimpi, the fly-half restored parity and kick-started a six-minute spell in which the reigning champions racked up 17 points.

George Bridge scored his eighth try in six Tests before a handling error from Pollard preceded Scott Barrett running in the All Blacks' second.

Pieter-Steph du Toit made the most of some slack New Zealand defending after the restart and Pollard was successful with a drop-goal from distance, but Mo'unga and Beauden Barrett kept the Springboks at arm's length from the tee.

"It was a heck of Test match. It was the full 80 minutes that we had to work," said All Blacks skipper Read.

"You're fortunate [that] sometimes it just happens in those couple of moments and we managed to take them. That's probably the difference in the game.

"We had to defend a little bit early on and when you don't have the ball you can't do too much, so when we did get opportunities we wanted to try to speed the game up."

Springboks skipper Siya Kolisi was frustrated his team did not punish New Zealand further when they had the chance, having reduced their arrears to four points in the second half.

"I think we took too long to get into the game," said Kolisi, despite his side appearing to be firmly on top during the first quarter.

"I think we stuck to our guns and our plan worked in the second half. We wanted to score first and it happened, but we couldn't capitalise on our opportunities."

Beauden Barrett, who started at full-back, played on with a bloody nose after being hit in the face by Duane Vermeulen's boot when trying to tackle the forward.

Barrett said: "It's a bit sore. It's never good getting a boot to the nose, especially from a big lad like Duane. You expect to take a few bumps when you play the Springboks, so it was worth it.

"We got to throw the ball around a bit – sometimes too much, it was a bit greasy out there, but there was some expansive rugby. If we can keep doing that all tournament that's what we're here for."

New Zealand were unforgiving as they punished South Africa errors to get their Rugby World Cup title defence under way with a thrilling 23-13 victory in the blockbuster Pool B clash in Yokohama.

Rugby Championship winners South Africa had been tipped as the leading contenders to dethrone New Zealand in Japan and they piled the pressure on the All Blacks in the early stages.

However, they only had three points from Handre Pollard to show for their efforts before sloppiness set in during a six-minute blitz that included tries from George Bridge and Scott Barrett.

Pieter-Steph du Toit crossed and Pollard scored a fine drop-goal as the Springboks regained a foothold in the second half, but the All Blacks were able to retain their record of having never lost a group stage match.

Pollard split the posts in the second minute after Bridge was pinged for not releasing the ball, and the Springboks maintained their commanding start.

He then hit the upright from the tee after Faf de Klerk intelligently won another penalty, but the scrum-half's stray pass was pounced on by Richie Mo'unga and Makazole Mapimpi's illegal attempt to win it back led to the fly-half restoring parity.

The champions had clicked into gear and Mo'unga's cross-field kick enabled Sevu Reece to charge down the right, setting a move in motion that ended with Beauden Barrett darting through a gap and offloading for Bridge to score his eighth try in six Tests.

New Zealand punished another mistake when Pollard dropped a high ball and Anton Lienert-Brown skipped in off the right before sending Scott Barrett under the posts, while Mo'unga missed a chance to make it 20-3 at the break from the left touchline.

Du Toit took advantage of a defensive lapse from the All Blacks to run straight in from a ruck in the 48th minute and Pollard reduced the arrears to four points with a stunning drop-goal from 40 yards out.

Mo'unga slotted through another penalty and the boot of Beauden Barrett helped keep the Springboks at bay as New Zealand extended their winning run in World Cups to 15 matches.

 

De Klerk opens the door

South Africa were in complete control until De Klerk's sloppy pass was set upon by Mo'unga, and it proved to be the turning point. New Zealand added 17 points in the next five minutes to underline their status as favourites for the trophy, with Rassie Erasmus likely to have concerns over the fitness of Trevor Nyakane and Cheslin Kolbe after late injuries.

Barrett at full-back pays off

Hansen's decision to play Mo'unga at fly-half and Beauden Barrett at 15 paid dividends, with both playing important roles as playmakers as the All Blacks tore South Africa apart in the first half. The latter was then granted the chance to play the last 10 minutes in his favoured position.

What's next?

The Springboks return to action against neighbours Namibia in Toyota next Saturday, while the All Blacks must wait until October 2 to take on Canada in Oita.

France captain Guilhem Guirado thought his side had thrown away victory in their Rugby World Cup opener against Argentina when Emiliano Boffelli lined up a last-minute penalty in Tokyo.

Les Bleus claimed a 23-21 victory on Saturday, which could well prove crucial with England also in Group C, but only after Boffelli's last-gasp attempt at three points drifted narrowly wide from 53 metres.

That miss ensured a Camille Lopez drop-goal with 11 minutes remaining was decisive for a France side that had led 20-3 at the interval, only to be comprehensively outplayed in the second half.

Asked what was going through his head when Boffelli prepared to kick what could have been a match-winning penalty for Argentina, Guirado said: "I was thinking the game is finished and we lost the game."

Reflecting on his side's hit-and-miss display, the veteran hooker added: "We never controlled the game and we never controlled the ball in the second half, but we are very proud of the first half because we were very clinical. When we play like this we are very dangerous.

"I don't know [what went wrong after the interval], but we never controlled the ball. We were doing just two or three phases, we were playing a lot of kick-chase. I think we are better when we play with the hands."

Argentina captain Pablo Matera was deeply unimpressed with his side's performance in the first 40, which ultimately left them with just too much to do.

"[It was a] really bad start from us as a team and it's not good enough," said Matera.

"I think France at the beginning didn't do too much, but they took their opportunities and scored points."

France escaped the ignominy of being on the receiving end of the biggest comeback in Rugby World Cup history as Camille Lopez's drop goal secured a 23-21 victory over Argentina.

A Jekyll and Hyde display from Les Bleus saw them take a 17-point lead in the first half as Gael Fickou and Antoine Dupont crossed within four minutes of each other at the end of impressive moves.

But the Pumas roared back and were soon leading after using their set-piece to get Guido Petti Pagadizabal and Julian Montoya over from line-outs.

Lopez's first act after coming on as a replacement was to kick the winning points, with Emiliano Boffelli missing a last-minute penalty and the final whistle was followed by a short brawl between the two sets of players.

Nicolas Sanchez slotted through a penalty after a bulldozing run by Petti Pagadizabal but France moved ahead when Virimi Vakatawa dropped Pablo Matera and fed Fickou, who stepped in off the left and stretched over in the 17th minute.

A surge down the right from Damian Penaud proved key to Les Bleus' opener and, after some terrific hands in the build-up, the wing offloaded in the tackle for Dupont to go over in the corner.

After adding the extras to both tries, Romain Ntamack contributed a pair of three-pointers either side of some stoic try-line defence to send France into the break 20-3 up.

The Pumas meant business after the restart, though, and had their first try within two minutes – Petti Pagadizabal making the most of the decision to opt for a line-out rather than a kick at goal from a penalty.

Argentina repeated the trick in the 53rd minute and Montoya touched down off the rolling maul, but Sanchez – having appeared to hurt his shoulder in the first half – missed the conversion and was replaced by Benjamin Urdapilleta, who quickly reduced the deficit to two points.

Urdapilleta edged the Pumas ahead for the first time after the TMO decided Boffelli's aerial challenge with Penaud, which saw the wing leave for a head injury assessment, was fair.

Lopez's ambitious drop goal just about had enough length on it and Fickou was let off the hook by Boffelli after a clumsy tackle on the full-back, whose 53-metre penalty curled narrowly wide to give France the win.

 

France strike first blow

In a pool that also includes England, it always seemed likely that the winner of this game will follow them into the quarter-finals. Having fallen in their opener, Argentina will need a big performance against Eddie Jones' side if they are to revive hopes of progression.

Les Bleus lose their discipline

Les Bleus struggled to cope with Argentina's electric start to the second half and referee Angus Gardner warned them twice that repeated infringements could lead to a yellow card. They were fortunate that did not come to fruition.

What's next?

Argentina take on Tonga in Higashiosaka next Saturday, while France are not in action until their match with the United States in Fukuoka on October 2.

Australia knew Fiji were going to start their Rugby World Cup clash "like fury" and Michael Cheika was frustrated they did not manage it better.

The Wallabies committed four turnovers as they fell 14-7 down in the opening 25 minutes at the Sapporo Dome, Peceli Yato crossing in addition to a trio of penalties from Ben Volavola.

Fiji extended their advantage to 21-12 after half-time but Australia battled back in the final half an hour to secure a 39-21 victory to kick off their campaign in Pool D.

Hooker Tolu Latu touched down twice, with Samu Kerevi and Marika Koroibete getting in on the act late on.

"I'm not going to complain at all. They're a dangerous team, we know them very well, their players," said Cheika.

"It's what we expected. We probably didn't expect to be as far behind, but we knew the start of the game would be like fury from the other team and we made a few errors that let them into it, but we recomposed ourselves and got back to basics and were able to get it done.

"We didn't target [the rolling maul] in particular for this game, but this is the World Cup; no scrum, no maul, no line-out - we had a few line-out issues tonight - no win. So you need to start with that stuff.

"I know it's not generally assigned to Australia, but to be able to do the other things we want to do we need that."

Michael Hooper and Reece Hodge scored first-half tries for the Wallabies and the captain was proud of the way they reacted to falling behind.

"It was a testing match for us going down like that in the fashion we did. Fiji really came out of the blocks aggressive, they're big physical guys and they took it to us," said Hooper.

"Really proud of our guys for regrouping, managed to work our set-piece really nicely into the game and ultimately that paid off for us."

Levani Botia was sin-binned with Fiji leading 21-20 in the second period and Australia ran in two tries in his absence, a factor skipper Dominiko Waqaniburotu rued.

"It was a disappointing result at the end but I thought we played well in the first half," said Waqaniburotu.

"It's just a lot of things we need to work on for the next game, the discipline let us down in the second half and that cost us a player. We did well, but we need to improve more if we want to compete in this competition.

"We've got a couple of niggles after this game. We've got to go back to recover and take a sharp turnaround to get back for the game against Uruguay [on Wednesday]."

Australia are not in action again until they face Wales in a blockbuster clash at Tokyo Stadium on September 29.

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