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Ireland edges South Africa in Rugby World Cup clash of titans. England romp and Portugal draw

England's Jack Willis celebrates after scoring a try during the Rugby World Cup Pool D match between England and Chile at the Stade Pierre Mauroy in Villeneuve-d'Ascq, outside Lille, Saturday, Sept. 23, 2023. (AP Photo/Michel Spingler)

PARIS (AP) — Ireland defeated defending champion South Africa 13-8 in a No. 1 vs. No. 2 showdown at the Rugby World Cup that exceeded the hype on Saturday at Stade de France.

In a low-scoring but ferociously gripping match, both sides scored a try but Ireland slotted all of its goalkicks while South Africa missed four of five, leaving 11 points in the wind.

Right winger Mack Hansen scored Ireland’s try after 33 minutes — the first South Africa conceded in this tournament — and left winger Cheslin Kolbe replied with a try for the Springboks early in the second half.

After Jonathan Sexton’s penalty put Ireland ahead 10-8 an hour in, his replacement Jack Crowley slotted a 77th-minute penalty to leave South Africa needing a try to draw and a converted score to win.

With seconds left, the Springboks attempted a rolling maul off lineout ball but they were smothered and couldn’t recycle the ball quickly enough before the play was whistled and the game was over.

Ireland beat the defending champions for the second time in 10 months and for the first time at the Rugby World Cup.

Ireland extended its test-win streak to 16 and will likely top Pool B, thus probably avoiding host France in the quarterfinals and setting up a meeting with three-time champion New Zealand.


Portugal couldn’t have come closer to its first Rugby World Cup win in Toulouse.

Os Lobos rallied from 13-0 down and looked to have settled the result thanks to two blistering tries from winger Raffaele Storti. But a thrilling climax left both teams unsatisfied.

Trailing 18-13 and having been surprisingly dominated by the Portuguese in the second half, Georgia’s grizzled set of forwards summoned up one last push with two minutes remaining and replacement hooker Tengizi Zamtaradze grounded at the back of a rolling maul to tie the score.

There were barely 40 seconds left as Luka Matkava booted the touchline conversion right of the posts.

Portugal’s players breathed a sigh of relief, and then were handed another chance of victory when Georgia gave away a penalty for obstruction straight from the restart.

With first-choice kicker Samuel Marques having already been replaced, fullback Nuno Guedes stepped up for the last kick of the game and pulled it wide. He looked devastated when the final whistle was blown immediately.

Still, Portugal earned its first World Cup points in its sixth match in the tournament, having lost all four pool games in 2007 and opened this World Cup with a 28-8 defeat to a second-string Wales.

Georgia’s record of winning at least one match at every Rugby World Cup since 2007 is under threat now, with games against Fiji and Wales to come.

ENGLAND 71, Chile 0

Winger Henry Arundell scored a record-tying five tries for England in Lille his Rugby World Cup debut.

England’s highest score in 20 years featured 11 tries, eight of them converted by captain Owen Farrell, who closed to within one point of Jonny Wilkinson’s England all-time points record of 1,179.

Criticized for the poor quality of its game at the Rugby World Cup, England excited with flair, pace, and clinical finishing for a third straight win in Pool D and all but secured a spot in the quarterfinals. England will need to beat Samoa in two weeks in their last pool game.

England’s approach to an historic first meeting with the lowest-ranked team in the tournament was to put away the boot and run at the Chileans. The passes flowed freely on a sunny afternoon, with England players resorting to kicking only to create attacks and tries.

Arundell became the fourth player in England’s history to score five tries in a game, and the first since Josh Lewsey at the 2003 Rugby World Cup against Uruguay.

Chile was organized and willing and never gave up in its first match against a Six Nations side. Los Condores prevented England from scoring for the first 20 minutes but they were outclassed. They finish next weekend against Argentina in the first all-South American Rugby World Cup match.


AP rugby:

The Associated Press

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