Australia scored three second-half tries to beat a determined Georgia 27-8 in Fukuroi on Friday. MARIETTE ADAMS reports.
It was far from perfect from the Wallabies, in fact it was probably their worst performance at the World Cup so far. And yet, Michael Cheika’s men managed to get the job done and as a result have provisionally moved to the top of the Pool D standings.
Australia now face an anxious wait to see what happens in the match between Wales and Uruguay as the result will determine which side finishes top in the pool standings. If Wales win, Warren Gatland’s men will advance as Pool D winners to set up a quarter-final against France, while the Wallabies will have to face England in the last eight.
Georgia played well, but as has been the case so often for minnow nations at this tournament, their resolve waned and ultimately they were unable to sustain their effort in the final quarter.
In an error-riddled opening stanza, Australia’s already static attack was repelled Georgia’s dogged defensive line, led by veteran Mamuka Gorgodze in his last-ever Test appearance.
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The Wallabies scored one try in the 23rd minute when Nic White dotted down. Flyhalf Matt Toomua converted and later added a penalty as Australia frustratingly went into the break with a slender 10-3 lead. Adding to coach Cheika’s concern was the head injury Kurtley Beale suffered in the 14th minute. The fullback was forced off to undergo an HIA, which he failed, resulting in Dane Haylett-Petty taking his place for the remainder of the match.
The second half was no better than the first in terms of quality. But in the end, the Wallabies outscored Georgia three tries to one to record a victory with a more flattering scoreline than it deserved.
Wallabies – Tries: Nic White, Marika Koroibete, Jack Dempsey, Will Genia. Conversions: Matt Toomua (2). Penalty: Toomua.
Georgia – Try: Alexander Todua. Penalty: Soso Matiashvili.
Australia – 15 Kurtley Beale, 14 Jordan Petaia, 13 James O’Connor, 12 Samu Kerevi, 11 Marika Koroibete, 10 Matt To’omua, 9 Nic White, 8 Isi Naisarani, 7 David Pocock (c), 6 Jack Dempsey, 5 Rory Arnold, 4 Izack Rodda, 3 Sekope Kepu, 2 Tolu Latu, 1 Scott Sio.
Subs: 16 Jordan Uelese, 17 James Slipper, 18 Taniela Tupou, 19 Rob Simmons, 20 Lukhan Salakaia-Loto, 21 Will Genia, 22 Christian Lealiifano, 23 Dane Haylett-Petty.
Georgia – 15 Soso Matiashvili, 14 Giorgi Kveseladze, 13 David Kacharava, 12 Merab Sharikadze (c), 11 Alexander Todua, 10 Lasha Khmaladze, 9 Gela Aprasidze, 8 Beka Gorgadze, 7 Mamuka Gorgodze, 6 Beka Saginadze, 5 Konstantine Mikautadze, 4 Giorgi Nemsadze, 3 Beka Gigashvili, 2 Shalva Mamukashvili, 1 Mikheil Nariashvili.
Subs: 16 Jaba Bregvadze, 17 Guram Gogichashvili, 18 Giorgi Melikidze, 19 Otari Giorgadze, 20 Giorgi Tkhilaishvili, 21 Vasil Lobzhanidze, 22 Lasha Malaguradze, 23 Tamaz Mchedlidze.
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