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Scotland 15 Georgia 6: match report

Read a full match report of the Rugby World Cup 2011 Pool B game between Scotland and Georgia at Southland Rugby Park, Invercargill on Wednesday Sept 14.

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It wasn’t overwhelming, it wasn’t particularly pretty but it was nonetheless fairly emphatic, Scotland managing to avoid the potential mishap that lay in wait in the shape of Georgia at a rain-swept Rugby Park, Invercargill.

Their superiority was greater than the scoreboard would suggest. There was far more control and authority in Scotland’s play than there had been in their streaky win over Romania.

Tighthead Euan Murray was impressive as was back-row forward, Kelly Brown. They now have a 10-day break before taking on Argentina in Wellington in a match that could well decided one of the two qualifiers from Pool B.

Georgia were spirited and resilient but never really threatened Scotland’s line. There was a stand-out show from their back-row, a lively cameo from scrum-half Irakli Abuseridze and the occasional dart from wing Alexander Todua, but they rarely managed to make real inroads. England will not have been unduly troubled watching from afar in their Queenstown base.

There was never any likelihood of this being a straightforward fixture for Scotland, nor was there any prospect of Georgia being able to sneak up on their opponents. They had announced themselves in no uncertain fashion in the 2007 World Cup as a side of not just formidable muscle but also of cleverness. They all but beat Ireland four years ago and Andy Robinson was under no illusions as to what lay in store.

He made 10 changes from the team that had laboured against Romania, particularly up-front, deliberately beefing up his forward pack. Scotland were forced into a late change when Scott Lawson pulled out with a calf injury to be replaced by Ross Ford.

Georgia have been itching to mark their mark in the tournament having watched so many of the other so-called minnows debut so convincingly. This was their first match and they wasted no time in showing the trademark drive of their forward pack, with Mamuka Gorgodze steamrollering his way into the Scottish 22.

‘Gorgodzilla’ was voted the best overseas player in France’s Top 14 last season, the Montpellier forward a huge, versatile presence. The good efforts of the Georgians were wasted by fly-half Merab Kvirikashvili, though, who fluffed an early straightforward drop at goal.

He didn’t take long to find his range, however, banging over a penalty from three metres inside his own half shortly afterwards. Scotland fly-half Dan Parks didn’t fare as well, doffing a simple pot at goal. He made amends in the 23rd minute.

Parks, though, was far more profligate in his field kicking. Time and again he banged the ball downfield straight into the arms of a Georgian. Full-back Revaz Gigauri was only too happy to run it back.

Even though their strength is close to the scrum, Georgia have some snap down the flanks, wing Alexander Todua showing a clean pair of heels only for No 8 Dimitri Basilaia to waste a good opening by chipping the ball into touch.

Gradually Scotland found their range, using the wider channels to stretch Georgia who were forced to infringe. The Lamont brothers and Nick de Luca looked sharp.

Referee George Clancy was forced to issue a warning about repeated infringements. They conceded nine penalties in the first half. Parks took due recompense with another penalty and a drop goal to send his side into the interval with a 9-3 lead.

Mind you, he almost messed up all the good work when trying to put the ball into touch as the clock showed 40 minutes had elapsed, only to scuff it into the path of a Georgian. Scotland survived and deserved their half-time advantage with Georgia forced to make double the amount of tackles.
Georgia needed a slower game. There were only four scrums on the first half, not enough for them to be able to sap the energy from Scotland. If anything, the Scots began to get purchase in the scrum, too. They began to bring tempo to their attack, Graeme Morrison and Ally Strokosch only being denied by knock-ons.

The sluicing rain was making handling difficult. Rory Lamont managed a splendid, weaving run into the Georgian 22 only to be dumped into touch by Giorgi Chkhaidze.

Scotland then made good use of territory to force penalties, Parks knocking over a couple to one in reply from Kvirikashvili to see his side home.

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