Duhan van der Merwe scored a try on debut as Scotland opened their Test window with a 48-7 victory over Georgia in Edinburgh on Friday. DYLAN JACK reports.
It was a relatively comfortable win for Scotland and an effective warm-up for their rescheduled final match of the 2020 Six Nations against Wales in Llanelli next weekend.
South African-born pair Van der Merwe and Oli Kebble made their Test debuts for Scotland. Van der Merwe was lively and made metres when he got ball-in-hand but generally had precious few opportunities to show what he can do in space.
The 25-year-old’s big moment came in the final 20 minutes as he ran an excellent line onto a pass from Finn Russell to slice through the defence and dot the ball down near the posts.
Meanwhile, Kebble had an effective 25 minutes off the bench and ensured Scotland continued to hold their own at the set-piece against a notorious Georgian scrum.
The match also saw Russell mark his return to Test rugby with Scotland, following his controversial expulsion from the side back in January. Russell made an immediate impact upon winning his 50th Test cap from the bench as he formed a dual playmaker axis with Adam Hastings, who shifted from flyhalf to centre in the second half.
A dominant start to the Test match saw Scotland race into a 17-0 lead thanks to tries from wing Darcy Graham and flank Hamish Watson, to go along with Brown’s first try from a maul.
Georgia were quickest out of the blocks in the second half and looked set to make it a contest as Akaki Tabutsadze was freed up out wide and sidestepped his way over to make it 17-7.
However, Scotland then turned to their most trusted weapon with a couple of powerful mauls seeing Brown grab his second try, before his replacement Stuart McInally also scored shortly after coming off the bench.
Georgia faded badly from there as they lost Vasil Lobzhanidze to a yellow card and Scotland ruthlessly exploited their numbers advantage as Graham sealed his brace, before fullback Blair Kinghorn latched onto a kick through to end the scoring.
Scotland – Tries: Darcy Graham (2), Fraser Brown (2), Hamish Watson, Stuart McInally, Duhan van der Merwe, Blair Kinghorn. Conversions: Adam Hastings (4).
Georgia – Try: Akaki Tabutsadze. Conversion: Tedo Abzhandadze.
Scotland – 15 Blair Kinghorn, 14 Darcy Graham, 13 Chris Harris, 12 James Lang, 11 Duhan van der Merwe, 10 Adam Hastings, 9 Ali Price, 8 Matt Fagerson, 7 Hamish Watson, 6 Jamie Ritchie, 5 Scott Cummings, 4 Ben Toolis, 3 Zander Fagerson, 2 Fraser Brown (c), 1 Rory Sutherland.
Subs: 16 Stuart McInally, 17 Oli Kebble, 18 Simon Berghan, 19 Rob Harley, 20 Nick Haining, 21 Cornell du Preez, 22 George Horne, 23 Finn Russell.
Georgia – 15 Soso Matiashvili, 14 Akaki Tabutsadze, 13 Deme Tapladze, 12 Merab Sharikadze (c), 11 Sandro Todua, 10 Tedo Abzhandadze, 9 Vasil Lobzhanidze, 8 Beka Gorgadze, 7 Beka Saghinadze, 6 Otar Giorgadze, 5 Grigol Kerdikoshvili, 4 Nodar Cheishvili, 3 Lexo Kaulashvili, 2 Jaba Bregvadze, 1 Mikheil NariashviliSubs: 16 Shalva Mamukashvili, 17 Guram Gogichashvili, 18 Giorgi Melikidze, 19 Giorgi Javakhia, 20 Giorgi Tkhilaishvili, 21 Gela Aprasidze, 22 Giorgi Kveseladze, 23 Tamaz Mchedlidze
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