- 23 Sep 07, 06:25 PM
The text books went out of the window almost from the word go on Thursday night as both teams threw caution to the wind in the opening exchanges, pretty much setting the tone for the rest of the evening.
Such an opportunity for us to break the shackles and run with the ball usually sees us play our most potent and effective rugby and overall that did prove to be the case - not though, before the Japanese ensured there would be no resting on any laurels when they came up with the try of the tournament so far.
When Wales had the ball too they were tackled ferociously - nobody feeling the brunt more so than Shane Williams who, unfortunately for him, got squarely hammered the first few times he had the ball!
But like I predicted the early resistance didn’t last and we ran out comfortable winners in the end.
There were some notable performances for Wales as well, with Colin Charvis, Martyn Williams and Mike Phillips all showing up very well.
Another mention too must go to Shane, who in skipping over for a couple of trademark touchdowns during the match also skipped straight passed Ieuan Evans’ long-standing mark of 33 international tries.
The height of the esteem in which Ieuan is held in Welsh rugby circles bares testament to the magnitude of Shane’s achievement and what’s even more impressive is that he achieved the feat in 22 matches less than his predecessor. What a way to celebrate your 50th cap!
With 30,000 empty seats though, it was a shame there weren’t more there to see it. The opportunity to watch your team in a World Cup tie doesn’t come around all that often and from what I am aware there were plenty of the more affordable tickets still available.
Let’s take nothing away from those who were there though really bought into spirit of the evening and were nothing if not persistent with their Mexican Wave attempts. They were actually pretty good in the end!
There has been criticism of the amount of errors we made during the game but when you are playing at that kind of tempo, speed of thought is as vital as speed of movement and a certain error level is unavoidable.
We will have to iron out the flaws for the group decider against Fiji of course, but on the whole I thought we made a great statement as to our intent in the competition ahead.
Onto this weekend, it should be another great set of matches and for those of you who enjoy a punt I’ve decided its time to start putting my neck on the line and so my winners are: France, South Africa, Argentina, Australia and New Zealand.
In fact not a whole lot of neck sticking out after all, but I’m sure it’ll still provoke some hearty debate and isn’t that why we’re here?
Over to you!
Ryan Jones plays number eight for Wales but misses the World Cup through injury.