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  • Writer's pictureThe Season Ticket

Rugby World Cup | Champions lay down ominous marker

0 - The @AllBlacks have never lost a pool stage game in @rugbyworldcup history, winning all 28 such fixtures, the @Springboks themselves have only lost two of 22 matches in the pool stage (2003 v England, 2015 v Japan). Titans.#RWC2019 #NZLvRSA — OptaJonny (@OptaJonny) September 21, 2019 Eight minutes into the second half, Rassie Erasmus’s South Africa breached the champions' defence. The electric Cheslin Kolbe caused the Kiwis problems throughout the game, and was denied a try by a huge tackle from Mo'unga inside the first 10 minutes of the second period. Beauden Barrett tried to launch an immediate counter-attack, but his pass was telegraphed by Faf de Klerk, who intercepted. South Africa piled forward, and Pieter-Steph du Toit eventually dived between the posts from the ruck following good carries from Malcolm Marx and Eben Etzebeth. Pollard converted to make it 17-10 with half an hour remaining, and reduced the deficit to four with an excellent drop-goal 10 minutes later. De Klerk almost got in for another try, but was denied at the last, as the Springboks took the game to Hansen's side. The world champions - who have never been beaten in the pool stage - remained inventive in possession and dangerous on the counter, and added to their lead 13 minutes from time. Mu'onga kicked a penalty between the posts to make it 20-13, and Barrett added another penalty five minutes later to stretch the Kiwis' lead to 10. Kobe continued to threaten at the other end, but New Zealand saw the game out to make the perfect start to their title defence. One of these teams await Ireland in the quarter-finals, should Joe Schmidt's men make it that far. On this evidence, Ireland will have to step up significantly to overcome either nation. New Zealand will fancy their chances of topping Pool B, with games against Italy, Canada and Namibia to come. South Africa will also be confident of making the knockout stages. They went on to lose a narrow semi-final (20-18) to New Zealand four years ago after suffering a shock defeat to Japan in their first group game.
2 - South Africa have lost the opening match of their last two @rugbyworldcup campaigns (also v Japan in 2015), they’d won their opening game in each of their previous five tournaments. Halted.#NZLvRSA #RWC2019 — OptaJonny (@OptaJonny) September 21, 2019
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