Rugby World Cup: Italy make winning start with victory over United States at Whangārei

Wales have prevailed 18-15 in a nailbiter against Scotland in their opening Rugby World Cup showdown at Whangārei.

In the last of three Pool B matches on Sunday, the Scots fought back from a 15-5 halftime deficit to tie the game in the dying stages, courtesy of Megan Gaffney's second try, but there was time left for Keira Bevan to break Scottish hearts with a clutch penalty to prevent an unlikely upset.

Wales move on to face the host Black Ferns and will need to rectify their indiscipline issues, if they're to have any hope of tipping over the defending champions at Waitakere Stadium next Sunday.

The result lifts Wales to second behind New Zealand in Pool B, while Scotland sit third. Australia sit in last place, after their 41-17 thumping by the Kiwis on Saturday.

Earlier, Canada opened their Rugby World Cup account with a comprehensive 41-5 win over Japan.

The Canadians poured it on in an emphatic first half, running in five tries to take an imposing 27-5 lead into the interval.

In the second half, Japan somewhat stemmed the tide, but were never genuinely in the contest, as the Canadians added two more tries for good measure on a convincing day up north.

Hooker Emily Tuttosi benefitted from a dominant Candian forward pack, notching a hattrick of tries, while sparkplug halfback Brianna Miller nabbed a brace.

The result sees Canada climb to the top of Pool B, while Japan fall below USA to the bottom.

Canada were too strong for Japan.
Canada were too strong for Japan. Photo credit: Getty

Italy began their campaign with a 22-10 victory over United States.

The two rivals entered the contest closely matched, with the Italians ranked fifth in the world and the Americans - inaugural champions in 1991 - one spot behind.

USA struck early with a try to lock Hallie Taufoou in the fourth minute, but the Europeans took the lead on the stroke of halftime, with a converted try to fullback Vittoria Minuzzi.

US players take a knee during national anthem at World Cup
US players take a knee during national anthem at World Cup. Photo credit: Photosport

Winger Aura Muzzo extended the advantage with another try, before Minuzzi was yellow-carded for a deliberate knock-on near her goal-line. From the ensuing tap penalty, lock Jenny Kronish plunged over to close the deficit.

Still shorthanded, Italy struck a crucial blow, with Muzzo securing her try double, before opposite winger Maria Magatti put the contest beyond the Americans' reach, after Minuzzi rejoined the game.

The result sees Italy take an early lead in Pool B, which also includes Canada and Japan, scheduled to meet later on Sunday.

Italy on the run against USA.
Italy on the run against USA. Photo credit: Photosport

In New Zealand's Pool A, Wales and Scotland will complete the opening round of games.

Italy 22 (Muzzo 2, Minuzzi & Magatti tries; Sillari 2 conversions) USA 10 (Taufoou & Kronish tries)

Canada 41 (Tuttosi 3, Miller 2, Farries & Nelson tries; de Goede 2 conversions, Miller conversion) Japan 5 (Takano try)

Wales 18 (Butchers, Powell tries, Snowsill conversion & penalty, Bevan penalty) Scotland 15 (Skeldon, Gaffney 2 tries)

Catch the Rugby World Cup live on Spark Sport or free-to-air on Three, or join Newshub on Sunday for live updates of the Black Ferns v Wales clash