Ben Youngs scores against Argentina David Davies/PA Wire/Press Association Images
Wilko Woe

Hard Yards: what you missed this morning

Did you miss this morning’s action from the RWC? Here’s our look back over Day 2 in New Zealand.

PHYSICAL BATTLES, SEVERAL bouts of handbags, 23 tries and two near shocks – all in a day’s rugby at the 2011 Rugby World Cup.

If you were up late watching the tennis from the US Open or just enjoying your Saturday sleep in, we’ve now cast an eye back over all of Saturday’s action.

Scotland 34-24 Romania

How it Happened: Scotland needed two late tries from winger Simon Danielli to secure an unconvincing win over their Pool B opponents, having gone 24-21 behind to a Romanian try on 68 minutes. Andy Robinson’s men led 21-11 at one stage but were put under ferocious pressure up front before Chris Paterson, who kicked 14 points in all, equalised with a penalty and Danielli added ten more points to collect an unlikely bonus point.

What this means: Scotland are top of Pool B courtesy of their bonus-point win and face Georgia next on Wednesday. However, they will need to improve drastically if they have any hope of overcoming either England or Argentina. Romania, for their part, will take heart from their display and will target at least one pool win.

Post-match reaction: Robinson admitted his side had plenty to work on afterwards, saying: “I saw this very much like Andy Murray playing his tennis matches. You get put under that pressure in the second round, third round sometimes and it’s how you come through it and then the focus is onto the next game.”

Fiji 49 – 25 Namibia

How it Happened: Vereniki Goneva was the main man for Fiji as the Islanders recovered from a sluggish start to win their opening pool game against their African opponents. Theuns Kotze had kicked his side 9-7 ahead before tries from Leone Nakarawa and Goneva put the team in white firmly in charge. The latter completed his hat trick before the break before grabbing another in the second half.

Fiji did not have everything their own way, however. Lock Heinze Joll and full-back Chrysander Botha kept things interesting and only 19 points from Seremaia Bai and another five-point score from Naipolioni Nalaga late on sealed the win.

What this means: No surprise here, despite a decent showing from Namibia. Fiji are top of Pool D on five points but have much tough tests in the form South African, Samoa and then Wales. Namibia, for their part, have Samoa next up and will look to improve their defensive form ahead of that fixture.

Post-match reaction: Fiji coach Sam Domoni – “The boys have been eager to get this game over and done with and now all the cobwebs and emotions are out of the way we are looking forward to next week (against South Africa).”

France 47 – 21 Japan

How it Happened: Tries from Julien Pierre and Francois Trinh-Duc as well as two penalties from the boot of Dimitri Yachvili had France coasting against Japan in the early hours but superb scores from fly-half James Arlidge brought the Asian side back to within four points. A Yachvili penalty put some breathing space between the teams before three French tries (Lionel Nallet, Pascal Pape and Morgan Parra) in the final ten minutes put a very flattering look on the final scoreboard.

What this means: The French most definitely have frailties and will need to iron these out quickly with their clash against the All Blacks just over the horizon. Les Bleus also lost the services of fly-half David Skrela to a potentially serious injury and this could well have consequences, though Parra did cover ably for his team-mate. The Japanese will be disappointed by errors at crucial times but, no doubt, encouraged by their opening performance.

Post-match reaction: France coach Marc Lievremont – “I got a victory, which was the most important thing for me. I wanted a consistent game but in this regard I wasn’t too happy. I wasn’t happy at the beginning of the game, we weren’t ambitious enough. We didn’t seem to be playing with a strong ambition. We had strong scrums … but we weren’t playing together.”

Argentina 9-13 England

How it Happened: This was always going to be a feisty and hard-fought encounter and so it proved to be – England needing a Ben Youngs try to save them from defeat in Dunedin.

Indiscipline very nearly cost Martin Johnson’s men dear as and their cause was absolutely helped by a first-half injury to Argentine captain Felipe Contepomi. The Pumas led 6-3 at the interval before Martin Rodriguez extended their advantage to 9-3 with another penalty kick. The second-half stalemate was only broken by a couple of changes by Johnson and it was one of the new men – Youngs – who raced clear to score under the posts who claimed the decisive score.

What this means: A stuttering start from England and the clamour is already on for a better performance against Georgia. A win is a win, however, and Johnson’s men are now up and running for all their poor play. There were positives too for Argentina, who have found themselves more or less written off despite finishing third las time out. The South Americans could be left to count the cost of an intensely physical game though, with several injuries and knocks to key players.

Post-match reaction: “I probably aged about 20 years,” Johnson said afterwards. “But that’s what World Cups are about – you will be in a game that isn’t going your way… and you have to find a way to win and we did. It’s not a fantastic performance by any means, but it’s a fantastic win in the circumstances. I always thought if we kept on going, we’d tire them out.”

Big winner of the day:

Japan. In the words of James Kirwan, Japan showed that they are a “very competent football team”. It gets no easier – with the All Blacks next up – but they will target games against Tonga and Canada as fixtures with the potential to yield up good results. Argentina are also worthy of a mention – their players were out on their feet in the final minutes and were just unable to hang on for a surprise win.

Big loser of the day:

Jonny Wilkinson. He might have kicked a vital penalty in the final minutes, but the England fly-half also missed five consecutive penalties – much to the shock of everyone watching. The Toulon star is usually the epitome of consistency but he sent some straight-forward kicks well off target, misses that had all of New Zealand talking as the second day of the 2011 Rugby World Cup drew to a close.