Karne Hesketh
Hesketh scored from the final play to claim a memorable victory. Getty Images

Japan produced the greatest shock in Rugby World Cup history by defeating two-time champions South Africa in a dramatic encounter in Brighton. Karne Hesketh scored an 84th minute try to claim the the Cherry Blossoms' first tournament win since 1991 and bamboozled the Springboks 34-23 in Brighton.

Eddie Jones' side produced a brave showing and ran in three tries during an enterprising display which stunned South Africa, whose status at tournament contenders has taken a significant blow. The champions from 1995 and 2007 scored four tries and lost by two points to two bonus point from the contest but that will act as little consolation for coach Heineken Meyer.

South Africa led by seven points on two occasions in the second half but Japan kept in touch through five penalties from the boot of Ayumu Goromaru. The underdogs trailed by three points heading into the closing minutes and after turning down numerous opportunities to secure a draw through South Africa infringements, replacement Hesketh went over in the corner to spark scenes of jubilation.

Meanwhile, world number two Ireland began their campaign with a thumping win over Canada at the Millennium Stadium. Johnny Sexton scored 14 points, including one of seven tries as Joe Schmidt's much-fancied side grabbed a bonus-point win from their opening encounter.

Pool C rivals France were unable to secure a bonus point but were still able to thump Six Nations rivals Italy in convincing fashion at Twickenham. Freddy Michalak scored 19 points while Nicolas Mas and Rabah Slimani both touched down to see off the Azzuri, who scored themselves through Giovanbattista Venditti but were unable to stage a comeback. Victory was soured by injury to Yoann Huget to a knee injury which looks set to curtail his participation in the tournament.

In the early game, Georgia overcame fellow Pool C rivals Tonga in a low scoring encounter at Kingsholm. Mamuka Gorgodze and Giorgi Tkhilaishvili scored in either half and though Fetu'u Vainikolo pulled one back and Georgia were reduced to 14-men, Tonga were not able to grab a late draw.


Tonga 10-17 Georgia

Ireland 50-7 Canada

South Africa 32-34 Japan

France 32-10 Italy