Japan pulled off the greatest shock in Rugby World Cup history as they stunned mighty South Africa 34-32 at the Amex Stadium in Brighton on this day in 2015.

Karne Hesketh’s 84th-minute try sealed a staggering victory from the Brave Blossoms, sinking the two-time world champions and leaving coach Eddie Jones rubbing his eyes in disbelief.

Jones admitted: “Japan beating South Africa? I had to look at the scoreboard at the end just to see if it was true or not.

“We kept hanging in there. It looked at one stage when they got seven points ahead that they would run away with it.

“That would have been the normal scenario, like the horror story where the woman goes for a shower after midnight and you know what’s going to happen.

“Normally they would score three or four, it ends up 50-20 and everyone says, ‘well done Japan, you tried hard, you were brave’. But we were more than brave.”

Instead it was the South Africans who found themselves starring in their own horror movie.

They trailed 10-7 midway through the first half thanks to a try from Japan’s New Zealand-born captain Michael Leitch, which cancelled out Francois Louw’s score, but led by two at half-time after Bismarck Du Plessis went over.

Lood De Jager and Adriaan Strauss scored under the posts in the second half but a try from full-back Ayumu Goromaru, as well as his nerveless kicking, drew Japan level at 29-29 with just 10 minutes to play.

When Handre Pollard kicked a penalty with five minutes remaining it appeared South Africa would at least avoid a humiliating defeat.

But relentless pressure from Japan paid off when rather than take a penalty for a draw, they were rewarded for their bravery when Hesketh scored in the left corner.

South Africa coach Heyneke Meyer said: “We let our country down, we weren’t good enough but all credit to Japan, they played really well.

“I said before, this will be the toughest World Cup ever and I think there will be more shocks. I still believe we can win the World Cup, but I have to press some hard buttons to try to fix it.”

Lewis Ludlam has urged booing fans to keep the faith after admitting that England could have shown more enterprise in their 34-12 World Cup victory over Japan.

Head coach Steve Borthwick declared it was job done as England took a stranglehold on Pool D through a bonus-point win, but after the 14-man rout of Argentina it felt like a backwards step had been taken on a messy evening at the Stade de Nice.

Early in the third quarter supporters groaned when Alex Mitchell – a live-wire scrum-half whose instinct is to run – booted the ball dead and the jeering grew in volume when the kicking continued.

England then ignited, defying the humidity-soaked conditions that made handling treacherous, to stage a thrilling all-out assault on Japan that was directed by George Ford and replacement full-back Marcus Smith.

The gameplan was to grind down unorthodox opponents and then take them apart when they were out on their feet. In that sense it worked, but for lengthy periods it was also a hard watch that clearly alienated some fans.

When asked for his message to supporters, Ludlam said: “I just say stick with us.

“We are a team that is learning every week and there are probably opportunities in there when we could have run that ball.

“However, it was hard to see how greasy that ball was. It was humid in that stadium and a couple of times we tried to play and ended up straight back on our tryline.

“George Ford is very good at putting us in the right areas and putting us in behind so that we have better opportunities to attack farther up the pitch. It’s hard to get the fans excited about that and we understand, but we’re building.

“That was probably not the performance we wanted – it was not a complete performance – but we are happy to get the win and the five points.

“We will take more opportunities and we want to be a better team next weekend and play in the right areas of the pitch.”

For the second successive weekend Ford was named man of the match as he single-mindedly executed England’s gameplan, but his stellar form presents Borthwick with a conundrum.

Owen Farrell returns from suspension against Chile on Saturday and while Ford will surely be rested for the showdown with Pool D’s weakest opponents, Borthwick must decide who to start at fly-half in a tricky appointment with Samoa a week later.

As England’s captain and talisman Farrell demands selection, but his return would alter a winning team that has been well led by the indomitable Courtney Lawes.

Borthwick’s likely solution is to reunite Ford and Farrell in a playmaking axis against Samoa on October 7 with the Saracens ringmaster reacclimatising to Test rugby at 10 in Lille on Saturday.

“Owen’s always chomping at the bit to get involved whether he’s banned or not. He’s always there and always leading the team forward,” Ludlam said.

“It is massive that we have got him back. He’s a massive leader for us. It’s just brilliant adding to that competition at 10 which is so fierce at the moment.

“Owen’s a proper competitor. He’s one of the most competitive blokes I have had the pleasure of playing with or against.

“You know he’s going to fight to the end and lead the team in the right way. He’s a massive character around the place and we are happy he’s back from his ban now.”

Courtney Lawes insisted England are beginning to show their teeth in attack after they posted a bonus-point victory over Japan in their World Cup clash at the Stade de Nice.

England defied greasy conditions caused by the high humidity to emerge 34-12 winners, a messy and occasionally bewildering victory placing them in full control of Pool D.

A barrage of kicking in the first-half gave way to three tries being added when the match opened up, including Lawes’ comical try which he touched down after the ball had struck Joe Marler’s head.

“It was quite a lucky try but I’ll take them how they come. It was a good bit of luck for us and in these conditions, you take what you’re given,” Lawes said.

“I saw it ricochet off Joe’s head so I went to score the try just in case, but I was pretty sure that it had gone backwards and then come off his head. I had a good idea that it was going to be given.

“The conditions were tough. Even when you’ve got a good grasp of the ball you’d go into contact and you could feel it almost spinning out of your hands, sometimes even before you’ve made contact.

“It’s actually really challenging at the moment because it’s just so greasy. It’s hot and humid and you’re already really sweaty. It pretty much makes it like a wet weather game out there.

“We showed glimpses of how good our attack can be and we’ll continue to work on it.

“We’re getting better every day and that’s the main thing – that we’re taking steps forward.

“Come later on in the competition we’ll hope that we’re firing on all cylinders.”

England were booed by their own fans during the early stages of the second-half in response to the sheer volume of their kicking, which was eventually replaced by all out assault on the Japan line.

“The players did tremendously well,” said head coach Steve Borthwick, who revealed that Ben Earl suffered a dead leg.

“That was a really tough Test against a really well coached Japanese side who clearly came with a tactical plan and who play the game differently to anyone else in the world.”

Japan head coach Jamie Joseph admitted the Brave Blossoms paid the price for failing to show more ruthlessness in attack.

“We put them under a lot of pressure and we created opportunities but we didn’t take them because we made too many mistakes. That’s Test rugby,” Joseph said.

“England are an experienced Test side and over time they wore us down. That’s the nature of the game at the highest level.

“It’s disappointing for us because we put a lot of emotion into this week, but we’ll take the learnings from it.

“I was happy with the intensity but we just made too many mistakes when we were under the pump. The players are hurting but that’s footy.”

Maro Itoje insists England will do whatever it takes to win if a substance over style approach emerges as their blueprint for success at the World Cup.

George Ford kicked all 27 points in their rout of Argentina last Saturday as England responded to the third-minute dismissal of Tom Curry for a dangerous tackle by grinding the Pumas into submission.

It was a rousing riposte to a dismal warm-up campaign but having excelled in defence and shown the smarts to shape their gameplan according to events, a potent attack remains elusive.

Free running Japan are the next assignment at the Stade de Nice on Sunday and while Itoje would prefer to see England run riot, he will take a victory any way it comes.

When asked if it matters how the team win, Itoje said: “For me, it’s by any means necessary.

“Obviously, we like to score tries and we’d like to score loads of tries. But for me it’s by any means necessary as long as we get the win.

“Every game’s different and is going to present different challenges. The task is to find ways to get on the positive side of the result.

“We know Japan move the ball. We know they are a very clever team that comes up with clever plays. However, the goal and task is to enforce an English style of rugby on this game.

“We want to show our best hand and we want to defend it well. We want to impose our physicality.

“We want to get into our set piece game and when the opportunity is right our generals will fire us in attack. Yes Japan move the ball, but it is about us imposing our will on them.

“Japan run the ball more than Argentina and are very aggressive with how they play and the spirit and the energy of how they play.”

Japan are not the force that lit up the 2019 World Cup with the pandemic hitting them harder than any other international side as they were prevented from playing a Test for two years.

If, as expected, England dispatch a team who have fallen to 14th in the global rankings they will have clear sight of a place in the quarter-finals with group games against Chile and Samoa left to play.

But Jamie George accepts that if they are to progress further in the competition, they must develop more strings to their bow.

“If we’re going to win a World Cup, which is what we’re here to do, we know that we’re going to have to kick on from where we were,” George said.

“The great English teams that I watched growing up and that I have been a part of based their teams around great defence and great set piece.

“As long as we are doing that I think our attacking game flows off the back of that. We have got players who can do special things.

“You have just seen the start of us in this tournament. We hope you will see us score points in different ways.”

Lewis Ludlam’s understated influence has won the approval of Steve Borthwick after England’s unsung hero was picked ahead of Billy Vunipola at number eight for Sunday’s World Cup clash with Japan.

Vunipola has completed his two-match suspension for a dangerous tackle against Ireland last month but the hard-carrying Saracen is limited to a bench role for the Stade de Nice showdown.

Instead, Ludlam has been rewarded for his defensive masterclass as a replacement in the 27-10 win over Argentina on Saturday by filling the hole in the back row created by Tom Curry’s suspension, also for an illegal challenge.

Ben Earl switches from number eight to openside to accommodate the return of Ludlam, who played every minute of this year’s Six Nations and has been one of England’s most consistent performers of recent times.

The versatile Northampton skipper’s elevation above the less mobile Vunipola is a nod to Japan’s high tempo tactics, which assistant coach Kevin Sinfield has compared to Barcelona’s tiki-taka style of football.

Borthwick believes the quality of Ludlam’s performances deserve greater recognition.

“We’ve been really impressed by Lewis in training and I’ve been really impressed with his impact from the bench,” England’s head coach said.

“With the nature of this game and the challenge Japan pose, I thought Lewis was the right person to start. He carries, he runs hard and covers a lot of ground in defence, which I don’t think people often see.

“What he does often goes under the radar. He’s that type of player and we value that here. Lewis is a great energy giver. He is a great driver of this squad and very generous in helping other team-mates improve. You always need those type of players in your team.

“He has been a key leader of his club side for many seasons and I have seen that growth in him as a leader.”

Two further changes in personnel have been made in the front row where Kyle Sinckler and Joe Marler displace Dan Cole and Ellis Genge as starting props.

Sinckler has recovered from the pectoral injury that limited his game time during the warm-up Tests and prevented him from facing the Pumas in the Pool D opener in Marseille.

The 30-year-old tighthead will be making his first World Cup appearance since being knocked out in the final against South Africa four years ago.

“It’s great to see Kyle Sinckler back in the team. He probably could have played against Argentina but he’s now absolutely 100 per cent this week,” Borthwick said.

“I saw a great advancement in the consistency of his game in the Six Nations. What I see of him now is physically a guy who is in great shape.

“He’s exceptionally strong and he’s moving really well. I sense the hunger in him and a desire in him to want to do exceptionally well for England in this World Cup.”

Borthwick has retained the same backline that featured against Argentina with George Ford given another opportunity to argue his case for being viewed as first choice fly-half.

Owen Farrell completes his four-match ban – once again for a dangerous tackle – versus Japan and becomes available for the last two group matches against Chile and Samoa, forcing Borthwick to make a difficult call at 10.

England will march on to a place in the quarter-finals if they topple Japan, who are not the dynamic force that captured hearts and minds at the last World Cup when they reached the knockout phase for the first time.

Having risen to tier-one status, they have now slipped to 14th in the global rankings but at least opened the tournament with a thumping 42-12 victory over Chile.

Gareth Anscombe has revealed how he feared his Rugby World Cup hopes might have been destroyed by injury for a second successive tournament.

The Wales fly-half missed Japan 2019 after suffering an horrific knee injury during a World Cup warm-up game against England that sidelined him for two years.

Anscombe fought back to put himself on the international stage once more – then injury struck again during Wales’ World Cup training camp in Turkey earlier this summer.

An attempted tackle on George North left Anscombe with a thumb problem that resulted in scans and him having to wear a plaster cast for a month, ruling him out of Wales’ three pre-World Cup Tests.

“I suppose I had a night there in Turkey where I thought I was done again, and that was devastating,” said Anscombe, who starts Saturday’s Pool C clash against Portugal at Stade de Nice.

“You have some dark thoughts then, but thankfully I had some luck on my side for once.

“It didn’t look great at the start, and the initial prognosis was it was probably going to need surgery, but thankfully the scans came back better than first thought.

“I had to be in a cast for a month, which was difficult, but at least I could still run.

“I missed the warm-up games, but to have the backing of the coaching staff was great. They spoke to me and said I was still in their plans, which was nice to hear.

“It has been about getting myself right and ready for when an opportunity presented itself, and here we are this weekend.”

Anscombe is one of eight survivors from Wales’ 2015 World Cup squad to be involved eight years later, and he offers considerable experience through 35 caps.

And the New Zealand-born number 10 is relishing a chance to play his part as Wales aim to reach the World Cup knockout phase for a fourth successive tournament.

He features in a team showing 13 changes from the side that toppled Fiji, and it is Anscombe’s first World Cup appearance since he started at full-back against quarter-final conquerors South Africa eight years ago.

“We know there are parts of our performance that we need to improve if we want to progress deep into this tournament,” he added. “But it was a great start (against Fiji).

“There has been an element of confidence brewing. The more time we spend together, we always improve.

“You look back to the Six Nations, a new coaching group and a fairly volatile situation in Welsh rugby.

“We’ve just been able to get away from a bit of the noise, which I think has been important for us as a group. Getting away in Switzerland and Turkey, focusing on ourselves.

“You always need an element of luck in World Cups, with injuries and decisions. We just hope to slowly go about our work and ride the wave.

“We had fantastic support on the weekend. I think more people will jump on the plane over and get behind us. I think you see when Welsh fans get behind us, who knows what can happen.”

Elliot Daly insists it is time for England to show their teeth in attack as they look to build on the defensive masterclass delivered against Argentina.

Steve Borthwick’s team top Pool D of the World Cup after routing the Pumas 27-10, securing a vital victory even though flanker Tom Curry was sent off for a dangerous tackle in the third minute.

A steely performance addressed concerns about the vulnerability of their defence but with all the points arriving off the boot of George Ford, the deficiencies of an attack that has yet to fire since Borthwick took charge were exposed once more.

Moments of promise in Marseille – most notably a five on two overlap – failed to materialise into tries and Daly is targeting an improvement when the group campaign continues against Japan on Sunday.

“We know how good our attack can be, so hopefully in the next few games we’ll be able to show that,” the Saracens wing said.

“A lot of people wrote us off against Argentina so for us to come out and perform like that and get that scoreline was pretty impressive.

“If we can do the same this weekend, perform how we want to perform and put our game on Japan, let’s see where that takes us.

“We’re not saying we’re going to chuck the ball around, but we’re going to put ourselves in positions in attack to take the opportunities we create.

“We did actually see the space on the weekend, but we probably couldn’t go into it when down to 14. We’re seeing the space a lot more, which is going to create more opportunities with the ball.

“There’s a lot more to come from us and I’m very excited about how we’re approaching it.”

For England to thrive against Japan they must shed their habit of seeing players sent off for illegal challenges having amassed four red cards in six Tests.

Curry’s dismissal against Argentina lifts the total number of cards for their 10 matches this year to nine, the highest of any side ranked in the top 10.

While Daly takes comfort from knowing England have played some of their best rugby when their backs are against the wall, he insists they must be aware of the current climate in the game which sees dangerous play being clamped down on.

“We just need probably to make sure we’re whiter than white, but these things happen, so it’s about we react on the field to that,” he said.

“Obviously we don’t want that in big games, but if we do have it, it’s something we’ve got to shrug off and understand what we’re lacking in that position.

“We understand that we want to keep 15 people on the field but if we don’t it’s how we react to that really.

“We’ve got to understand that if you do go high and it’s 50-50 there’s a chance of a penalty or even worse.”

Borthwick names his starting XV on Friday evening with prop Kyle Sinckler and number eight Billy Vunipola expected to be recalled to the 23 following absences through injury and suspension respectively.

Joe Marler has carved out a niche as rugby’s ultimate maverick so it comes as a surprise to the England prop when Danny Cipriani claims there is no room for individuals in the game.

A theme of the now-retired Cipriani’s career was that of an unfulfilled talent on the international stage whose outrageous natural ability was never truly trusted by a succession of England coaches.

In the 35-year-old former fly-half’s autobiography, he suggests his face did not fit in the sport.

“Rugby has so many amazing qualities like camaraderie and teamwork. But it needs to allow people to be themselves,” said Cipriani in his recently released autobiography ‘Who Am I?’.

But as one of rugby’s most colourful figures and the source of several disciplinary storms, Marler disagrees with Cipriani.

“That is his experience. That is his story. That is not my story,” said Marler, who is expected to be on the bench for England’s World Cup clash with Japan on Sunday.

“Is Cips’ book fiction or non fiction? Do we know what section of the bookshop it will be in? I tried asking him the other night but he’s not answering.

“That is Danny’s view on it and I can’t deny his view on it. But that is not how I see it. That is his experience and he is more than entitled to share that.

“Martin Johnson was in charge for my first camp 13 years ago. I had a mohawk – think it might have been red or stars and a rat’s tail at the back. I looked horrific, actually.

“I remember Martin Johnson coming down the steps and he went: ‘Are you ready for training?’ I said ‘yeah, definitely’.

“He said ‘are you going to have a haircut before you get to training?’ I was like ‘Umm’. Then he just walked off.

“Now some people might interpret that as him being serious and it might be a case that actually you don’t fit the bill, you need to go and shave your hair off. But I took it as ‘he’s just joking’.

“Funnily enough I was sent home the next day! But I think it had more to do with the fact Andrew Sheridan’s back recovered. I’d like to think that!

“It’s up to the individual. You’ve got a choice in how you react to being told something.

“The perfect position would be everyone working towards what’s best for the team whilst still being able to show who they are, what they’re about, how they want to do it and how they can add to it.”

Marler is taking part in his third World Cup and has seen his Test career reborn since Steve Borthwick replaced Eddie Jones at the end of last year.

“Having been out of the previous environment for 18 months and then coming back into Steve’s environment and experiencing it for the first time in a World Cup camp and now here, there has been a huge difference in terms of how a lot of the group have felt, who they can be and how they can behave,” Marler said.

“It’s that’s had a massive effect on how the players are approaching training and how they are enjoying themselves both on and off the pitch.

“For me, I just try my hardest to encourage that environment to keep that consistent because it does need work. It does not just happen.”

Kevin Sinfield insists England do not have a discipline problem as they look to draw a line under their latest red-card setback that resulted in a two-match ban for Tom Curry.

England did not contest Curry’s dismissal for a dangerous tackle in Saturday’s 14-man demolition of Argentina when the Sale openside appeared before a brief virtual hearing on Tuesday.

After the disruption caused to their World Cup preparations by the Owen Farrell and Billy Vunipola incidents last month, England are keen to focus all their attention on Sunday’s Pool D showdown with Japan.

And while continuing to hone their tackle technique in training, defence coach Sinfield is satisfied there is no deep-rooted problem.

“Discipline-wise, we gave away seven penalties at the weekend,” Sinfield said.

“I don’t think we’ve got a discipline problem, I thought it was really unfortunate what happened at the weekend. It’s been different from the other challenges that have taken place.

“We continue to work on our tackle skill – and work incredibly hard. The guys have bought into it and have done so for some time, but they’re human and they make mistakes. We’ve got to understand that.

“And unfortunately we’ve had to deal with four red cards in six games. We’re getting pretty good at defending with 14 men, but we want to have our full complement on the field for as long as possible at all times.

“So we hope to improve that area, but it’s tricky to pinpoint exactly what that is.

“We’ll spend time with Tom and put him through tackle school and work incredibly hard with him again. We’ll get him right for a couple of weeks’ time.”

Observers have been left scratching their heads by the inconsistent refereeing evident during the opening round of World Cup matches.

While Curry was given his marching orders for his third-minute clash of heads with Juan Cruz Mallia, similar incidents involving players from South Africa and Chile went unpunished.

On this occasion England could be justified for nursing a sense of grievance at the way the cards have fallen against them and Sinfield admits the disparity between decisions makes a player’s job harder.

“I think it makes life really difficult for the players, first and foremost, and that’s what we’re all here for,” Sinfield said.

“We all want to see the players out on the field, we want to see the best players in the world go head to head. We’ve just got to be careful.

“We control what we can control. We’re in full support of the rules and regulations. We try and train as hard as we can, but within the laws of the game and we’ll continued to do that.”

England name their team to face Japan on Friday night and Sinfield insists there will be no room for sentimentality when making any tight calls.

“At the top of the list is to win the game to we pick the team that we think gives us the best chance of winning,” Sinfield said.

“Within that there’s always a balance, but we’re in a World Cup and we’re not here to give people game-time, we’re here to win games.

“We’re not here to give Test shirts out because someone deserves one, we’re here because we have to win games.”

Hansi Flick has been sacked as manager of Germany in the wake of Saturday’s 4-1 home friendly defeat to Japan.

It comes after the former Bayern Munich coach won just 12 of his 25 matches in charge of the national team following his appointment in August 2021.

Germany will host the European Championship next summer but form had grown increasingly erratic under Flick, with a second successive group-stage exit at the World Cup last year part of a run that has seen just three victories in the last 12 months.

The 58-year-old, who replaced World Cup-winner Joachim Low when he stood down following Euro 2020, becomes the first person to be sacked as Germany manager.

Rudi Voller will take charge of the team for their friendly against France in Dortmund on Tuesday.

German Football Federation (DFB) president Bernd Neuendorf said in a statement: “The committees agreed that the men’s senior national team needs new impetus after the recent disappointing results.

“We need, in facing the European Championship, a spirit of optimism and confidence in our own country.

“For me personally, it is one of the most difficult decisions of my time in office so far, because I appreciate Hansi Flick and his assistant coaches as football experts and people.

“But sporting success is the top priority for the DFB. So the decision was inevitable.”

Voller, who as well as taking over as caretaker also holds the role of director of the national team, added: “Hansi Flick has worn himself out over the past few months; together with his coaching team, he has given everything to get back on track after leaving the World Cup in Qatar to make the turn for the better.

“Unfortunately, we have to realise today that it was not successful. The Japan game has clearly shown us that we can no longer make any progress in this situation.”

Flick’s assistants Marcus Sorg and Danny Rohl have also left their roles.

The defeat against Japan in Wolfsburg came despite a goal in the 19th minute from Leroy Sane to equalise Junya Ito’s early opener, with Ayase Ueda restoring the visitors’ lead moments later.

Takuma Asano and Ao Tanaka struck in the closing stages to compound Germany’s misery in what transpired to be the manager’s final game in charge.

Germany manager Hansi Flick’s position looks uncertain after an embarrassing 4-1 home friendly defeat to Japan on Saturday.

The former Bayern Munich boss has now overseen four defeats in the last five games, which comes on the back of a group-stage exit at last year’s World Cup.

The pressure is increasing on the 58-year-old, with director of the Germany national team Rudi Voller noticeably evasive when asked about his manager’s future.

Voller said in a television interview, reported by German newspaper De Bild: “We should collect ourselves first. There will be a bit of training tomorrow. Then we play against France. Afterwards, we should first reflect and think about what happens next. Let’s see.”

Japan, whose 2-1 victory in Qatar sent Germany home from the World Cup, went ahead through Junya Ito before Leroy Sane levelled.

But second-half goals from Ayase Ueda, Takuma Asano and Ao Tanaka saw Japan coast to victory in Wolfsburg, where the crowd turned on their side at full-time.

Flick replaced long-time boss Joachim Low in August 2021 but has won less than half of his 25 games in charge.

Ireland crashed out of the Women’s World Cup after Canada came from behind to beat them 2-1 on Wednesday.

Spain and Japan reached the last 16 with a game to spare.

Here, the PA news agency takes a look at all of Wednesday’s action.

Spain cruise into last 16

Jenni Hermoso and Alba Redondo scored twice as Spain thumped Zambia 5-0 to reach the last 16.

One of the tournament favourites made the knockout stages with a game to spare having already beaten Costa Rica in their first match.

Teresa Abelleira opened the scoring before Hermoso and Redondo took charge as Spain eased to victory.

Japan ease past Costa Rica

Japan also qualified for the last 16 with a routine win over Costa Rica.

Quickfire first-half goals from Hikaru Naomoto and Aoba Fujino saw the 2011 champions through.

Japan and Spain will battle it out for top spot in their final Group C game when they face each other on Monday.

Canada fight back to break Irish hearts

Ireland bowed out of the tournament after Canada came from behind to win in Group B.

Captain Katie McCabe gave Ireland the lead when she scored straight from a corner after just four minutes.

Megan Connolly’s own goal levelled just before half-time and Adriana Leon grabbed Canada’s winner eight minutes after the break.

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Group E: USA v Netherlands (2am, Wellington Regional Stadium)
Group E: Portugal v Vietnam (830am, Waikato Stadium)
Group B: Australia v Nigeria (11am, Brisbane Stadium)

Matt Richards led a sensational British one-two in the men’s 200 metres freestyle final to secure Great Britain’s first medals of the World Aquatics Championships in Fukuoka, Japan.

The 20-year-old came on strong down the home stretch, leaping from third after 150 metres to clock one minute and 44.30 seconds and pip team-mate and Olympic champion Tom Dean, who also finished well.

Dean prevailed ahead of fellow Briton Duncan Scott at the Tokyo Olympics but settled for silver after finishing just two hundredths of a second behind Richards, despite being fifth on the final turn.

“I am pretty tired but over the moon, it was a stacked field,” Richards said in quotes to BBC Sport. “It’s amazing to come away with the GB one-two again.”

South Korea’s Hwang Sun-woo claimed bronze as Romania’s David Popovici, who was the overwhelming favourite to retain his title, finished fourth after fading badly in the final 50 metres.

Shohei Ohtani was described as a "unicorn to the sport" by United States manager Mark DeRosa after he led Japan to victory in the World Baseball Classic final.

Ohtani struck out Los Angeles Angels team-mate Mike Trout to seal a 3-2 victory in a thrilling conclusion in Miami on Tuesday.

Named the tournament's MVP, Ohtani ticked off a list of achievements during the game that had only ever previously been matched in an MLB or WBC game by the legendary Babe Ruth in October 1921.

The 28-year-old started in the batting lineup, drew a walk, got a hit, came on to pitch in relief, struck out a batter and was the finishing pitcher.

"What he's doing in the game is what probably 90 per cent of the guys in that clubhouse did in Little League or in youth tournaments, and he's able to pull it off on the biggest stages," DeRosa said. 

"He is a unicorn to the sport. I think other guys will try it, but I don't think they're going to do it to his level.

"What blows me away on this stage is the fact that no moment is too big for him. He did not seem rattled by walking Jeff McNeil on a close pitch, not rattled that three MVPs were coming up to bat."

Ohtani himself was happy to accomplish one of his career goals by winning the tournament, and believed the victory over the USA was also proof that Japan can get the better of anyone.

"In my baseball life, [winning the World Baseball Classic was] one of the things that I wanted to achieve," Ohtani said. "Today I was able to achieve one of the goals.

"Of course, I happened to get the MVP, but this really proves that Japanese baseball can beat any team in the world."

Japan superstar Shohei Ohtani struck out Los Angeles Angels team-mate Mike Trout to end a 3-2 victory over the United States in a thrilling conclusion to the World Baseball Classic (WBC) on Tuesday.

The two pre-tournament favourites ended up meeting in the final, and almost like the script of a sports movie, fans were gifted the most anticipated matchup in baseball for the last out of the game.

It was the United States striking first, with Trea Turner continuing his remarkable tournament with a solo home run in the second inning. With it, he broke the US record for most home runs in a single WBC (five) and the most RBIs (11).

But their lead was short-lived, as 23-year-old Japan slugger Munetaka Murakami crushed a 432-foot bomb to tie the game with the first pitch in the bottom of the second frame.

With the final being played in Miami, the visiting team jumped ahead 2-1 later in the second through a Lars Nootbar RBI ground-out with bases loaded.

That score would hold until a solo home run from Kazuma Okamoto in the fourth inning to put Japan up 3-1, and while the United States finished with nearly double the amount of hits (nine against five), they failed to string them together and score.

The game was injected with life in the eighth inning as Kyle Schwarber put together a 10-pitch at-bat against Texas Rangers star Yu Darvish – including five foul balls in a row – before blasting a 436-foot homer to cut the lead to one.

All-Star Devin Williams pitched a clean eighth inning for the United States to reach the ninth with the scores still at 3-2, when Ohtani was sent out to close the show.

After a Jeff McNeil walk to open the inning, Ohtani got Mookie Betts to ground into a double-play, putting Japan one out away from securing their third WBC title.

The only thing standing in his way was Trout, and with the entire stadium on their feet – with a full count – Ohtani struck out the three-time AL MVP to collect the save.

Japan are the only team with more than one WBC crown, denying the United States a chance to tie them with two each, while the Dominican Republic also has one.

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