Georgia claimed a hard-fought 24-20 win against the Kings in their World Cup warm-up in Tbilisi on Tuesday night.
The Port Elizabeth-based side were invited by the Georgia Rugby Union to play the Lelos as part of their preparation for the World Cup. But the match also served as a pre-season friendly for the Kings in the lead-up to the new Pro14 campaign.
Trailing 17-5 at half time and then 20-5 with 15 minutes to go, Georgia launched a monumental comeback to secure a stirring victory.
The Kings seized the momentum from the outset as converted tries by Sbura Sithole and Christian Ambadiang coupled with a penalty from the boot of Demetri Catrakilis gave them a commanding 12-point lead at the break. Georgia’s five points in the first half were scored by wing Giorgi Aptsiavri.
Another penalty from Catrakilis extended the Kings’ advantage to 15 before Georgia finally sparked into life and wrestled back the ascendancy.
The Georgia forwards started to dominate and soon prop Giorgi Melikidze powered over the line before they were awarded a penalty try when the Kings cynically collapsed a maul. That brought the hosts within three on the scoreboard while, in the 77th minute, flank Shalva Sutiashvili crossed to complete the comeback.
Georgia – Tries: Giorgi Aptsiavri, Giorgi Melikidze, Penalty try, Shalva Sutiashvili. Conversions: Automatic conversion, Lasha Malaguradze.
Kings – Tries: Sbura Sithole, Christian Ambadiang. Conversions: Demetri Catrakilis (2). Penalties: Catrakilis (2).
Photo: Georgian Rugby Union