Georgia 33 - 7 Uruguay Rugby World Cup Report
Georgia recorded a 33-7 bonus point win, overpowering and outplaying Uruguay in humid conditions at the Kumagaya Rugby Stadium, 60km north of Tokyo. The Eastern European side, which includes several players who play rugby in France’s Top 14, demonstrated their superiority with forceful forward play and an impressive urgency in the stifling heat. Uruguay faced a sharp come down from their shock win over Fiji, struggling to come to terms with the physicality and fast tempo set by Georgia.
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In a first half which was slow and turgid at times – and included the first warm weather water break of the tournament – Georgia brought their dominance in the scrum to bear. After a scrum penalty advantage, the ball was distributed efficiently to Alexander Todua on the wing, who went over in the corner. Tedo Abzhandadze then missed the conversion, to bring Georgia’s remarkable 100 per cent all time conversion record at the Rugby World Cup to an end.
Georgia’s pack continued to exert control on the game, pressing forward at will in driving mauls. Just past the half hour mark, another scrum penalty to Georgia resulted in a Uruguay yellow card, and from the next scrum, impressive number eight Otari Giorgadze proved why he is one of the most highly touted players from the emerging nations at Japan 2019. The Brive man picked the ball up at the scrum to drive over the line, despite the close attentions of a Uruguay defender.
At 12-0, and having had little impact on the game, it seemed that Uruguay’s hopes of a comeback were already futile. But on 32 minutes, the South Americans took advantage of space left at the back of a line out, with Rodrigo Silva dissecting the gap before setting up Andres Vilaseca to go under the posts. A conversion made it 12-7, and Uruguay were somehow back in the game.
They missed a golden opportunity to cut the deficit to just two points three minutes before the break, when Felipe Berchesi fell short from the tee to miss a very kickable penalty. Those are the moments which World Cup games can hinge on. A Georgia grubber and chase which nearly extended their advantage capped an exhilarating end to a half which came to life.
Georgia Put Pedal to the Metal
Georgia had Uruguay pinned back from early in the second half. After another overwhelming Georgia scrum, prop Levan Chilachava slipped over from two metres out. An excellent Abzhandadze conversion, straight through the middle of the posts from a challenging angle, followed to put the men from the Caucasus 19-7 up.
Choking under Georgian pressure in their own half, Uruguay continued to give away penalties. On 52 minutes, Georgia drove over again, with a driving maul making swift progress towards the line from ten metres out. It was hooker Jaba Bregvadze who touched down. A conversion was added, and Georgia had already secured a bonus point by the 53rd minute.
It was 31-7 just minutes later after Bregvadze chipped a clever ball through the Uruguay line before taking down Silva. Once the ball popped loose, it was centre Kveseladze who was in the right place at the right time, to pick up and go over. It was all going Georgia’s way. The period following the second water break was characterised by a ding-dong kicking battle, but Uruguay were suffering the effects of their errors, turning over the ball but then knocking on.
Georgia continued to gain consistent ground with their forays into the Uruguay half, but the South Americans should be commended for the same type of dogged resistance which they demonstrated in the Fiji win. Uruguay even ended the game on the front foot, but ultimately Georgia proved they were a cut above their opponents, several of whom juggle other occupations with their professional rugby career.
With Australia and Wales to come in their remaining Pool D games, the World Cup now becomes a uphill struggle for minnows Uruguay. But Los Teros can still take heart from one of the performances of the tournament in their shock win over Fiji. Uruguay acquitted themselves well for part of the Georgia game, too, and making a mark on the world stage could be positive for the wider development of the sport in the country.
Georgia now have five Rugby World Cup wins to their name, and will fancy their chances of inflicting further misery on Fiji when the two teams meet at the Hanazona Rugby Stadium in Osaka on Thursday, 3rd October. Their closing Pool D encounter with Australia in Shizuoka will be another platform to put Georgian rugby on the map, and while they will go into the fixture as big underdogs, the Wallabies should certainly not be taking them lightly.
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