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Sporting shocks: Japan stun Springboks, Hammers humble Man City

Be honest; none of you had minnows Japan pulling off the mother of all upsets in their Rugby World Cup opener against Pool C favourites South Africa, did you?

A 34-32 victory over the Springboks at Brighton and Hove Albion’s Amex Stadium sent shockwaves through the rugby world. It is just the Japanese’s fifth-ever win over a leading nation in that sport, and reportedly leaves South Africa coach Heyneke Meyer facing the sack is results don’t improve.

It’s been a dismal year for the Springboks; the misery of finishing bottom of the Rugby Championship tournament they play alongside fellow Southern Hemisphere countries Argentina, Australia and New Zealand was compounded by this sobering loss to Japan.

Fully living up to their nickname ‘the Brave Blossoms’, Japan, 6/1 with Coral to similarly stun Scotland on Wednesday, owed their epic win to the penalties of Ayumu Goromaru, with South Africa crossing for more tries and thus conversions too.

The Springboks shall have the chance to respond against Samoa this coming weekend, and many commentators feel their 100 per cent record against the Pacific Islanders could well be at stake when they meet at Villa Park.

In Premier League football, meanwhile, Manchester City seemed to already be running away in their bid to regain the title, but saw their momentum checked by a surprise Etihad loss to West Ham United, now 11/8 chances to finish in the top 10.

Slaven Bilic’s side have really raised their game away from home, knocking off other heavyweights Arsenal and Liverpool on other trips this term, and they now see themselves up to third in the table. Hammers fans may have worried how their fortunes would fare after their embarrassing early Europa League exit during the qualification phase.

Victor Moses, a loan signing from defending Premier League champions Chelsea, struck early at the Etihad to give West Ham a surprise lead and Senegal striker Diafra Sakho doubled their lead on half an hour.

Kevin De Bruyne’s first Man City goal on the stroke of half-time set up an interesting second 45, but the visiting defence stood strong to their hosts. Manuel Pellegrini’s men, still odds-on 8/15 favourites to regain the title, can respond to successive defeats domestically and in the Champions League, as they play relegation candidates Sunderland in a Capital One Cup clash in midweek.

Finally, during a weekend of shocks, Lewis Hamilton looked to go level with boyhood hero and Formula 1 legend Ayrton Senna’s tally of Grand Prix wins in Singapore, but had to retire and thus handed victory to Sebastian Vettel.

Hamilton is of course still a firm odds-on 1/6 favourite to take the Drivers’ Championship, but all may not be well in the Mercedes camp.