FIJI withstood a determined fightback from Japan to win a thrilling Group B clash 35-31 yesterday and get their World Cup campaign off to a perfect start.
The Pacific Islanders scored their fourth try 10 minutes from fulltime to seal a hard-earned victory and a bonus point after the lead had changed hands six times in the closest game of the tournament.
Fijian openside flanker Akapusi Qera scored two tries and centre Seru Rabeni and lock Kele Leawere crossed once each while flyhalf Nicky Little added three penalties and three conversions to become the 13th player to pass 600 points in international rugby.
New Zealand-born lock Luke Thompson scored twice and prop Tomokazu Soma once for Japan, who were thrashed 91-3 by Australia at the weekend, and they earned the consolation of a bonus point for losing by less than seven points.
·In Group A, the tiny South Pacific kingdom of Tonga humbled the United States 25-15 in their opening match yesterday to effectively end the Americans faint chances of making the quarter-finals.
Tonga, who qualified for the tournament by winning one of the two repechage places, led 13-0 after an early try by giant number eight Finau Maka but needed two late scores from wing Joseph Vaka and replacement Viliami Vaki to seal the victory. Reuters