Julian Savea scored a hat-trick as the All Blacks overcame a spirited effort from Georgia to claim a 43-10 bonus-point win in Cardiff on Friday. CRAIG LEWIS reports.
Although the world champs certainly didn’t have it all their own way, they ultimately got the job done as they consolidated their position of superiority at the top of Pool C.
But, with a powerful side selected for this clash, there will be some concern that they failed to dominate in the manner expected.
The All Blacks had the bonus point wrapped up by the 22nd minute, with Savea scoring twice, while Waisake Naholo and Dane Coles also dotted down. Naholo’s try was particularly special, coming with his first touch on World Cup debut after returning from a broken leg. It was also the quickest try of the tournament as it came after just over a minute of play.
Georgia had their memorable moment when fullback Beka Tsiklauri scored an opportunistic try in the eighth minute, and the minnows would prove to be a nuisance for most of the match.
The All Blacks’ uncharacteristically poor handling and the wayward kicking of Dan Carter meant the reigning champs didn’t completely run away with it initially, despite opening up a 22-10 lead before the break. Yet Georgia would have been chuffed with the fact they only trailed by 12.
New Zealand No 8 Kieran Read scored in the 52nd minute to extend the Kiwis’ advantage, but they still failed to instill any real rhythm in their play.
Savea completed his hat-trick late in the game, though, and then replacement Malakai Fekitoa dotted down to make the scoreline look a bit more flattering.
All Blacks – Tries: Waisake Naholo, Julian Savea (3), Dane Coles, Kieran Read, Malakai Fekitoa. Conversions: Dan Carter (4).
Georgia – Try: Beka Tsiklauri. Conversion: Lasha Malaguradze. Penalty: Malaguradze.
All Blacks – 15 Ben Smith, 14 Waisake Naholo, 13 Conrad Smith, 12 Sonny Bill Williams, 11 Julian Savea, 10 Dan Carter, 9 Aaron Smith, 8 Kieran Read, 7 Richie McCaw (c), 6 Jerome Kaino, 5 Sam Whitelock, 4 Brodie Retallick, 3 Charlie Faumuina, 2 Dane Coles, 1 Wyatt Crockett.
Subs: 16 Keven Mealamu, 17 Tony Woodcock, 18 Owen Franks, 19 Victor Vito, 20 Sam Cane, 21 Tawera Kerr-Barlow, 22 TJ Perenara, 23 Malakai Fekitoa.
Georgia – 15 Beka Tsiklauri, 14 Giorgi Aptsiauri, 13 David Kacharava, 12 Tamaz Mchedlidze, 11 Alexandr Todua, 10 Lasha Malaguradze, 9 Giorgi Begadze, 8 Lasha Lomidze, 7 Mamuka Gorgodze (c), 6 Shalva Sutiashvili, 5 Giorgi Chkhaidze, 4 Levan Datunashvili, 3 Levan Chilachava, 2 Shalva Mamukashvili, 1 Karlen Asieshvili.
Subs: 16 Simon Maisuradze, 17 Mikheil Nariashvili, 18 Anton Peikrishvili, 19 Konstantine Mikautadze, 20 Viktor Kolelishvili, 21 Vasil Lobzhanidze, 22 Merab Sharikadze, 23 Murazi Giorgadze.
Photo: Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images