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Portugal suffer late heartbreak against Georgia

MATCH REPORT: Raffaele Storti scored two tries to help Portugal to an 18-18 draw with Georgia on Saturday, but Nuno Sousa Guedes missed an injury-time penalty that would have handed them a first-ever World Cup victory.

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The Georgians were unbeaten in their previous 18 Test matches against Portugal coming into the Pool C match at Toulouse, winning their most recent by a margin of 27 points in March.

But Portugal, backed by a baying partisan crowd, were doughty in defence and expansive in attack, Storti grabbing his two opportunities with aplomb.

There was drama to the end when replacement Georgia hooker Tengizi Zamtaradze was driven over to bring the scores level, but Luka Matkava pushed his touchline conversion wide.

Georgia, who lost 15-35 to Australia in their opener, then infringed from the restart, but Guedes pushed his penalty effort wide to leave the scores level.

There was an electric start to the match when Davit Niniashvili, the 21-year-old fullback who plays for Lyon in the Top 14, produced a fine step and one-handed offload to Akaki Tabutsadze.

The Georgian wing duly crossed for the opening try after just 90 seconds at Toulouse Stadium and Tedo Abzhandadze converted.

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A knock-on by Guedes, under no real pressure, handed the advantage straight back to Georgia, Abzhandadze booting a penalty to extend the Lelos’ lead.

Gela Aprasidze had a try ruled out for an unfortunate knock-on of Tornike Jalagonia’s pass as the Georgians dominated possession, camped out in the Portuguese half – they had only made 16 tackles in the opening 30 minutes.

Abzhandadze spurned a second shot at the posts to go for the corner, but prop Francisco Fernandes was on hand to save Portugal, who went down 8-28 to Wales in their opening match, with a smart turnover.

Niniashvili thrived as Portugal kicked possession away, the fullback looking electric on the counter-attack.

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But he could do nothing as, against the run of play, Portugal sent the ball through the hands to find the fleet-footed Storti, who stepped Beka Saginadze and Aprasidze and outsprinted Niniashvili to the line.

Samuel Marques’ conversion came back off the post, but Portugal’s celebrations were short-lived as Fernandes was shown a yellow card for a no-arms shoulder barge into Georgia hooker Shalva Mamukashvili.

A second Georgian try was disallowed when Aprasidze’s pass was ruled forward as Georgia tried to take advantage of their numerical superiority, leaving it 13-5 at half-time.

Marques hit a penalty to open the scoring in the second period after Vladimer Chachanidze went high on Jeronimo Portela.

The Portuguese scrumhalf then added a second penalty to reduce Georgia’s lead to two points.

And as Portugal pressed, Storti crossed for his second try, Portela finding the wing with a neat inside pass and the speedster rounding Alexander Todua and Niniashvili with ease.

Marques converted to hand Portugal a 18-13 lead going into the final quarter and the Portuguese fans began to believe a historic win was within sight.

Storti was denied a hat-trick by a great covering tackle from Jalagonia as the Portuguese, spurred by Marques and Portela at halfback, ran everything.

Then came Zamtaradze’s try, Matkava’s missed conversion and Guedes pushing his injury-time penalty wide in a breath-taking end to an entertaining match.

Portugal will now face Australia in St Etienne in October 1 and Fiji a week later in Toulouse, while Georgia’s next opponents are Fiji in Bordeaux on September 30 before wrapping up their campaign against Wales in Nantes on October 7.

Man of the match: Georgia fullback Davit Niniashvili was a busy man with ball in hand and kept the Portuguese on their toes with some sniping runs in the first half. However, the award goes to Portugal wing Raffaele Storti, who scored two scintillating tries in the match. He showed incredible pace in both scores and he just has a keen eye for space around the field.

The scorers:

For Georgia:
Tries: Tabutsadze, Zamtaradze
Con: Abzhandadze
Pens: Abzhandadze 2

For Portugal:
Tries: Storti 2
Con: Marques
Pens: Marques 2

Yellow card: Francisco Fernandes (Portugal, 37′ – foul play, high tackle)

Georgia: 15 Davit Niniashvili; 14 Akaki Tabutsadze, 13 Giorgi Kveseladze, 12 Merab Sharikadze (captain), 11 Alexander Todua; 10 Tedo Abzhandadze, 9 Gela Aprasidze; 8 Beka Gorgadze, 7 Beka Saginadze, 6 Tornike Jalagonia, 5 Konstantine Mikautadze, 4 Vladimer Chachanidze, 3 Beka Gigashvili, 2 Shalva Mamukashvili, 1 Mikheil Nariashvili.
Replacements: 16 Tengizi Zamtaradze, 17 Guram Gogichashvili, 18 Guram Papidze, 19 Nodar Cheishvili, 20 Giorgi Tsutskiridze, 21 Vasil Lobzhanidze, 22 Luka Matkava, 23 Demur Tapladze.

Portugal: 15 Nuno Sousa Guedes; 14 Raffaele Storti, 13 Pedro Bettencourt, 12 Tomás Appleton (captain), 11 Rodrigo Marta, 10 Jerónimo Portela, 9 Samuel Marques, 8 Rafael Simões, 7 Nicolas Martins, 6 João Granate, 5 Steevy Cerqueira, 4 José Madeira, 3 Diogo Hasse Ferreira 2 Mike Tadjer, 1 Francisco Fernandes.
Replacements: 16 David Costa, 17 Lionel Campergue, 18 Anthony Alves, 19 Martim Belo, 20 David Wallis, 21 Thibault de Freitas, 22 Pedro Lucas, 23 Manuel Cardoso Pinto.

Referee: Paul Williams (New Zealand)
Assistant Referees: Matthew Carley (England), Chris Busby (Ireland)
TMO: Joy Neville (Ireland)

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