Five lessons from the opening weekend of the World Cup, according to SIMON BORCHARDT.
Fortune favours the brave
The Boks were leading 32-29 at Brighton Stadium when Japan twice turned down a shot at goal that would have earned them a memorable draw. Instead, they pushed for a match-winning try, which eventually came a full four minutes after the hooter. It was a brave decision from captain Michael Leitch that allowed his Brave Blossoms to pull off the biggest upset in the history of Test rugby.
Eddie Jones is still a master tactician
If the result of the match was close, the battle between the two coaches in Brighton wasn't, as Jones totally out-thought Heyneke Meyer. Japan were able to force seven turnovers, because they only committed one tackler to the ruck with the Boks sending in four men at a time. After two or three rucks, the Boks had several men on the ground, with Japan then being able to flood the breakdown and steal the ball. Jones also ensured that there were always three defenders back to collect the kick, and that his players cut the Boks down around the ankles.
Sonny Bill Williams can make a big impact off the bench
Williams replaced Ma'a Nonu in the 46th minute of the All Blacks' match against Argentina, and proved to be the most influential of the replacements as they fought back from 16-12 down to win 26-16. With his second touch of the ball, he broke away down the blindside before making a freakish offload in the tackle. So surprised was Nehe Milner-Skudder by that bit of skill that he knocked the ball on with an open tryline beckoning. Williams's performance showed why he is an indispensable member of the match 23 and has given coach Steve Hansen a selection headache.
The All Blacks must improve their discipline
New Zealand had to play with 13 men at one stage at Wembley following two yellow cards. Richie McCaw admitted that his foot trip of Juan Martín Fernandéz Lobbe was 'dumb' and put his team under pressure, as was Conrad Smith's cynical infringement at the breakdown soon afterwards. While they didn't prove costly in terms of the result, that may not be the case against a better team than Argentina.
England's scrum is still not right
Stuart Lancaster would have been delighted with his side's bonus-point win against Fiji at Twickenham, but concerned about the scrum. On one occasion, England messed up a scrum on their line immediately after Fiji had had a try disallowed. It wasn't a one-off either, as England conceded three scrum penalties against France in their World Cup warm-up in Paris and were also dominated up front by Ireland at Twickenham. Former England No 8 Lawrence Dallaglio suggested the forwards weren't working together at scrum-time on Friday night, which is something they will need to address before the big pool clashes against Wales and the Wallabies.
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