World Cup Pool A RD 1: what went right, what went wrong

by Staff Writer

The first round of the Rugby World Cup is done and with the Wallabies still yet to play, the opening Pool A matches gave them a chance to take a look at their opponents.

So, how did Australia’s Pool A opponents shape up and what has been the fallout from their first round matches?

England

def. Fiji 35-11

What went right

The hosts weren’t exactly convincing but they earned a bonus point win in the opening match of the World Cup so they can tick that one off. Fullback Mike Brown scored two tries, including an effort in the 72nd minute that sealed the match for England. Rugby league convert Sam Burgess was also effective, coming off the bench, and could give Stuart Lancaster a selection conundrum.

What went wrong

This wasn’t an emphatic victory and worryingly, a lot of England’s issues came in the scrum and the breakdown. Fiji’s set piece work has markedly improved and they put immense pressure on the English in the scrums throughout the game, which rattled the hosts. England will have to be better than that against Australia and Wales.

Suspension/Injuries

Nil

Next game

Wales - Saturday 8pm (UK Time)

Wales

def. Uruguay 54-9

What went right

Wales got a bonus point win and with the carnage the side suffered, that will be invaluable. They withstood some early pressure from Uruguay but capitalised on easy gaps in the Toros defence to gain the momentum in the match. Cory Allen’s hat-trick was a highlight.

What went wrong

Aside from the injuries, this did not look a confident Welsh team. They lacked composure in attack and did not see off the Uruguayan threat early on. Eventually, their dominance in the forwards helped them to two tries but they will have to improve for Saturday’s match with England.

Suspension/Injuries

If any team needed to get through a game unscathed it would be Wales. Their horror run with injury doesn’t look like it’s over just yet, though, with five more Welshmen injured, including hat-trick hero Cory Allen (hamstring). Allen’s tournament is over, with the centre replaced by Tyler Morgan. Warren Gatland is playing a waiting game with props Samson Lee and Aaron Jarvis and leaving it as late as possible to replace Paul James, who was in a moonboot as Wales’ world cup welcome ceremony on Monday night. In slightly better news, fullback replacement Liam Williams (thigh) should be cleared to play England.

Next game

England - Saturday 8pm (UK time)

Fiji

def by. England 11-35

What went right

Fiji threatened in attack, with flyhalf Ben Volavola and winger Nemani Nadolo leading the way. Nikola Matawalu was painfully close to scoring a spectacular runaway try but lost the ball before he could ground it over the line. It was their strong improvement in the scrums that surprised many, though. Their set piece work was impressive and they put plenty of heat on the English scrum. That would have pleased coach, John McKee.

What went wrong

Fiji’s poor kicking at goal cost them against as they managed just two of their five shots at the posts. An early yellow card to halfback Matawalu effectively cost them two tries. While they were competitive for most of the game, the Flying Fijians ran out of puff in the final 20 minutes of the game, overrun by England’s fitter bench players.

Suspension/Injuries

Blindside flanker Dominiko Waqaniburotu was cited for a dangerous tackle on JOnny May and will miss Fiji’s game against Australia.

Next game

Australia - Wednesday 4:45pm (UK time)

Uruguay

def. by Wales 9-54

What went right

Uruguay is an almost entirely amateur side and they competed strongly with Wales early on in the match, before their opponents capitalised on some simple mistakes. They took an early lead with two penalty goals from flyhalf Felipe Berchesi, which gave them some early ascendancy but that was ultimately short-lived.

What went wrong

They were outclassed by Wales but that was no surprise given their world status. Los Teros were determined but lacking in execution. They will have a long rest before they take on Australia on Sunday and they’ll need it.

Suspension/Injuries

Nil

Next game

Australia - Sunday 12pm (UK time).

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