Tokyo, Sep 22 : The second day of the 2019 Rugby World Cup here in Japan truly kicked off with a bang as two of the tournament's contenders faced off when New Zealand squeezed past South Africa 23-13 in a physical clash in Yokohama.
Elsewhere Australia survived an early first-half scare to ease past Fiji 39-21 in Sapporo, while late drama secured France a 23-21 victory over Argentina in Tokyo.
In highly anticipated South Africa vs. New Zealand clash, the Boks had the best part of the early pressure in the first quarter of the game. However, a failure to be clinical in front of New Zealand's try line meant that after 16 minutes of being camped inside the All Black's 22 South Africa could only emerge with a solitary three points.
Suddenly after 20 minutes of sustained pressure, a poor pass from Faf de Klerk gave the All Blacks the chance they needed to break away and grab the first try of the game through George Bridge.
Despite getting the first try against the run of play, New Zealand saw the momentum of the game shift in their favor and five minutes later, they were able to break through the South African defensive line and send second row Scott Barrett in under the posts for their second of the game.
At half time, New Zealand went into the changing rooms 17-3 ahead.
However, South Africa came out for the second half with a fire lit under them and it only took seven minutes for the Boks to get their first try of the game through Pieter-Steph du Toit.
For the rest of the game, both sides saw the momentum of the game shift but no team was able to get another try. New Zealand secured the win with two further penalties in response to a Pollard drop goal to extend their lead to the final score of 23-13.
Pool C rivals France and Argentina faced off in a game that they knew would be crucial to their World Cup hopes.
France came out of the blocks firing with Fickou and Dupont tries, in addition to two penalties from the boot of Ntamack, to head into the half 20-3 up.
In reverse of the first half, Argentina turned the tables on France by also scoring two unanswered tries as well as two further penalties to take the lead 21-20 over the French.
Les Blues substitute fly-half Camille Lopez showed his experience by slotting over a dramatic drop goal to give France a 23-21 lead and the eventual win. Argentina now knows that they will have to defeat England if they are to progress to the quarterfinals.
In the first game of the day, Fiji let a nine-point advantage slip away to fall to Australia 39-21.
For the first 50 minutes of the game, Fiji had showed Australia how dangerous they could be in open play taking the game to 21-12 after tries from Nayacalevu and Yato. The Fijian attacking play and physicality at the break down shocked the Australians, who entered the game as massive favorites.
Unfortunately for Fiji, Australia found their discipline just as Fiji lost theirs. From the 50th minute onwards, Australia began to tighten up their play and shut out Fiji from the game. 27 unanswered points later and Australia won 39-21.
The World Cup continues Monday as Italy take on Namibia and England play Tonga, while a highly anticipated clash between Ireland and Scotland could lead to fireworks.