Wales see off spirited Georgia
WORLD CUP REPORT: Six Nations champions Wales opened their World Cup campaign with a bonus-point 43-14 victory over Georgia in Toyota City on Monday.
The victory not only sent out a signal of intent to main Pool D rivals Australia, who beat Fiji in their opener, but also dispelled any doubts there might have been of a hangover in the Welsh camp over the sending home of assistant coach Rob Howley amid allegations of illegal betting.
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Four slick first-half tries from Jonathan Davies, Justin Tipuric, Josh Adams and Liam Williams ensured a bonus point for Wales, who were given a stern examination by a strong Georgian scrum that came to life in the second period.
There were barely two minutes on the clock when centre Davies was played in under the posts after a perfect pass by scrum-alf and namesake Gareth, decoys Dan Biggar and Hadleigh Parkes bamboozling a leaden-footed defence.
Biggar’s conversion surprisingly came back off the posts, but the flyhalf redeemed himself with a penalty shortly afterwards.
Another well-drilled midfield move saw wing Adams split the defence before offloading to Gareth Davies. The scrumhalf was brought down short, but Tipuric was on hand to swoop for the ball and sidestep inside Giorgi Tkhilaishvili to run through unmolested for Wales’ second try, Biggar converting.
The third came soon after, Adams running in from almost halfway after an inside Biggar pass off a line-out, with the Georgian defence glaringly absent.
Biggar hit the extras and it was a point a minute after 22 minutes, the 35,545-strong crowd at a sultry Toyota Stadium scenting a rout.
The sole bright spark for Georgia in a grim first-half display saw a rare break into Welsh territory by hooker Shalva Mamukashvili, Gareth Davies twice on hand with tapdowns to halt the foray.
Skipper Alun Wyn Jones, matching Gethin Jenkins’ record of 129 Wales caps, and No.8 Josh Navidi were at the heart of the effective Welsh rush defence to nullify the threat from the “Lelos.”
Instead it was Wales who had the last word of the first 40 minutes, Liam Williams scooping up Jonathan Davies’ pass to dot down in the corner, Biggar making no mistake to stretch the score out to 29-0.
The Georgians opened the second half exactly as coach Milton Haig would have liked, Mamukashvili bundled over from an attacking line-out for a well-received try that Tedo Abzhandadze converted.
Wales roared back with their own driving maul, but fresh-on-the-field Jaba Bregvadze collapsed it, which was spotted by referee Luke Pearce who had no option but to yellow card the replacement hooker.
A raft of replacements disrupted the flow of the game, enabling Georgia to weather the 10-minute sin-binning without conceding any points.
Despite their far more combative half, it was replacement scrumhalf Tomos Williams who chased down a George North grubber for Wales’ fifth.
Toulon prop Levan Chilachava responded for Georgia when he bombed over from short range, but Wales had the last word when North finished well after some neat footwork and a sharp offload from Tomos Williams.
Tries: Davies, Tipuric, Adams, L Williams, T Williams, North
Cons: Biggar 4, Halfpenny
Tries: Mamukashvili, Chilachava
Cons: Abzhandadze 2
Yellow card: Jaba Bregvadze (Georgia, 48 – cynical play, collapsing the maul}
Wales: 15 Liam Williams, 14 George North, 13 Jonathan Davies, 12 Hadleigh Parkes, 11 Josh Adams, 10 Dan Biggar, 9 Gareth Davies, 8 Josh Navidi, 7 Justin Tipuric, 6 Aaron Wainwright, 5 Alun Wyn Jones, 4 Jake Ball, 3 Tomas Francis, 2 Ken Owens, 1 Wyn Jones.
Replacements: 16 Elliot Dee, 17 Nicky Smith, 18 Dillon Lewis, 19 Aaron Shingler, Ross 20 Moriarty, 21 Tomos Williams, 22 Rhys Patchell, 23 Leigh Halfpenny.
Georgia: 15 Soso Matiashvili, 14 Mirian Modebadze, 13 Davit Kacharava, 12 Tamaz Mchedlidze, 11 Giorgi Kveseladze, 10 Tedo Abzhandadze, 9 Vasil Lobzhanidze, 8 Beka Gorgadze, 7 Mamuka Gorgodze, 6 Giorgi Tkhilaishvili, 5 Kote Mikautadze, 4 Giorgi Nemsadze, 3 Beka Gigashvili, 2 Shalva Mamukashvili, 1 Mikheil Nariashvili (captain).
Replacements: 16 Jaba Bregvadze, 17 Guram Gogichashvili, 18 Levan Chilachava, 19 Shalva Sutiashvili, 20 Beka Saginadze, 21 Otar Giorgadze, 22 Gela Aprasidze, 23 Lasha Khmaladze.
Referee: Luke Pearce (England)
Assistant referees: Ben O’Keeffe (New Zealand), Matthew Carley (England)
TMO: Rowan Kitt (England)