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The Sporting Scoop: Rugby, Netball And More

An intense October for sports fans kicked off last night with New Zealand just managing to shut out a magnificent Jamaican side 55-53 in the semifinals of the World Netball Championships and set up a final against defending champions Australia.

The thrilling match was undecided to the last minute. Across town Wellington stunned long suffering fans with an upset win over Canterbury 27-6 in first division NPC at Jade Stadium last night. After going into the second half with a 6-3 lead, Wellington ran in three unanswered tries to give themselves an excellent chance for a place in the semi-finals for the first time.

In Auckland, the Football Kingz went down 3-nil to Carlton in their debut match in the Australian National Soccer League at North Harbour Stadium. An Auckland Scoop reader says it looked like less than 10,000 turned out for the historic match. He says the defence looked disorganised and despite some bright moment never really threatened one of the stronger sides in the league.

All of this was the warm up to the main event - The Rugby World Cup.

Shirley Bassey, a 1,000 strong male choir, 72,000 fans and Prince Charles opened the tournament at the new Millennium Stadium. Only one of them did not sing..

Cardiff Arms Park was farewelled with renditions of Men of Harlech and Cwm Rhondda and then the games began…

With a bit of a damp squib really. Heavy rain and a dour perfomance from Argentina gave little chance to measure Wales progress in rebuilding itself as rugby world power.

Wales eventually won out 23-18 after a dismal error-ridden first half effort.

The Pumas led by three points late into first-half injury time, but once the World Cup hosts hit the front through a Colin Charvis try they only started to look back in the last few minutes.

The Welsh points came from tries to flanker Charvis and centre Mark Taylor and three penalties and two conversions from fly-half Neil Jenkins.

Argentina had six penalties from fly-half Gonzalo Quesada but rarely threatened the Welsh line. In the last quarter the Pumas closed to within five after a succession of penalties taken excruciatingly slowly, but Wales held on with some ease to start their campaign with a win.

In the second match Fiji tore apart Namibia in what will be the first of many one-sided games, 67 to 18.

Fiji played sevens rugby with 15 men to lead 43-6 at the break and despite a courageous attempt by Namibia in the second half which brought two tries and tough tackling, the result was never in doubt.

The Namibians outplayed Fiji in some aspects of the game. A fact that does not bode well for the South Pacific side when they come up against the stronger nations. However if they get the ball in open play, they will always threaten to score.

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