Aaron Smith
Smith proved influential as New Zealand eased to victory. Getty Images

New Zealand began the defence of their title by holding off a valiant effort from Argentina in front of a Rugby World Cup record 89,019 crowd at Wembley Stadium. The Pumas, semi-finalists in 2007, led by a point at half time but the All Blacks eased to a 26-16 but were denied a bonus point as they started with a win.

Guido Petti Pagadizaval scored in the first half as Nicholas Sanchez kicked two penalties to give Argentina a shock lead against the defending champions, who had captain Richie McCaw and Conrad Smith yellow carded during the first 40 minutes. But Argentina faded after the hour mark as they began to tire.

Steven Hansen's side had 74% territory after the break as they pulled away first as Aaron Smith went over to put them in front before the scrum-half laid the ball on for Sam Cane to secure victory. Though Daniel Hourcarde's team were unable to stage the second shock of the tournament it was another brave performance from a team considered to be the underdog.

Meanwhile, Wales' injury problems continued as they begun their campaign by hammering Uruguay 54-9 at the Millennium Stadium. Cory Allen scored a hat-trick but is among four new injury concerns for Warren Gatland to contend with ahead of the crunch Pool A clash with England

Full-back Liam Williams, the stand-in for the injured Leigh Halfpenny, and props Paul James and Samson Lee suffered blows as the Welsh squad continued to be decimated. Nevertheless, Wales matched England in claiming a bonus point as they ran in seven tries to overwhelm their South American opponents.

"Hopefully some of those players will recover over the next couple of days," said Gatland. "The next day we're back in training is Wednesday to get ready for Saturday. The number of turnovers was a bit disappointing. We had 24 turnovers, handling errors. Respecting the ball and keeping the ball in hand is a big thing.

"I was pleased up front. We stuck to the task and I was pretty happy with some of the performances. Tipuric was outstanding again. Jake Ball had a really strong game for us and the front five stuck to their task as well."

After Japan blew Pool B wide-open by defeating South Africa, Samoa responded in the early game by defeating United States 25-16 in Brighton. Tim Nanai-Williams and Ofisa Treviranus both scored either side of the break, as Tusi Pisi scored 12 points with the boot to start their attempts to reach the knock-out phase with a win.