Kings give Georgia a scare
MATCH REPORT: The Southern Kings came within four minutes of a major scalp as they went down narrowly to Georgia in a pre-season clash in Tbilisi.
The Pro14 side controlled the first hour of the game, and led 20-5 with 15 minutes remaining before the Georgian pack took control to come back and claim a 24-20 success.
The Kings, who will face more international opposition this weekend in the form of Namibia, had made the perfect start with an early penalty from new man Dimitri Catrakilis.
Sibusiso Sithole then crossed for the game’s first try six minutes in as the Kings opened up a ten-point lead.
Georgia responded through Giorgi Aptsiauri on the quarter-hour but the Kings fired straight back with their second try of the night.
A big THANK YOU to @GeorgianRugby for the great hospitality, camaraderie and much-needed pre-season action.
The Isuzu Southern Kings wish you well for your remaining warm-up games & particularly for the World Cup. We will be following your progress closely.
გმადლობთ #KingsCare pic.twitter.com/nxZzeutzfr
— Isuzu Southern Kings (@SouthernKingsSA) August 27, 2019
Catrakilis showed his class with a beautiful chip to Christian Ambadiang, and the flyhalf added the extras to make it 17-5.
Despite the loss of prop Cameron Dawson to the sin-bin, that was how it remained at half-time, with Catrakilis adding another penalty after the break to stretch the lead to three scores.
The Georgian fightback began with a try from prop Giorgi Melikidze quickly followed by a penalty try for a collapsed maul to cut the lead back to three points.
The comeback was completed when back-rower Shalva Sutiashvili crossed three minutes from time but it was still a creditable run-out for the Kings ahead of the Pro14 season.
They are not the only team in the competition who have been preparing for the new campaign by taking on international opposition, with Leinster having seen off Canada in a thrilling encounter on Saturday.
The Kings will face Namibia on Saturday in the first of a double-header against the Welwitschias, while it has just been confirmed that Connacht will take on Russia on September 7 in Moscow.
Tries: Giorgi Aptsiavri, Giorgi Melikidze, Penalty try, Shalva Sutiashvili.
Cons: Lasha Malaguradze
Tries: Sibusiso Sithole, Christian Ambadiang
Cons: Demetri Catrakilis 2
Pens: Catrakilis 2