Tedo Abzhandadze inspired Georgia to a 24-20 victory over Ireland on match day three of the 2018 World Rugby U20 Championship at the Parc des Sports Et de l’Amitié, Narbonne
The result leaves Ireland fighting for 9th place in the knock out stage.
A tentative start from Ireland was punished when Arsen Machaladze crossed to give the Georgians a 7-0 lead. Conor Dean knocked over a 45m penalty four minutes later to get his side on the board however this was cancelled out by a penalty from Gela Aprasidze.
The early battles went in Georgia’s favour which gave them the confidence to throw the ball wide and while they suffered a yellow card to Sandro Mamtavrishvili after 19 minutes their confidence remained firm. Sandro Svanidze raced clear after intercepting a James Hume pass to score his side’s second try after 22 minutes.
Ball retention was a problem for Ireland while Georgia’s expansive rugby always kept Noel McNamara’s men on the back foot. However a succession of penalties found Ireland on the Georgian 22. Despite a strong Georgian resistance, carries from Diarmuid Barron and Caelan Doris fashioned an overlap down the right flank for Dean to finish in the corner. The conversion was missed leaving the score at 17 – 8 in Georgia’s favour as the teams changed ends.
Ireland looked for a positive start to the second half but Georgia were able to capitalize on poor ball retention at the break down. Demur Tapladze broke down the right and perfectly weighted a kick into the centre of the pitch for Tedo Abzhandadze to control and then dot down for a 24-8 lead after Aprasidze added his third conversion.
Ireland heads dropped after the try and Georgian dominance at the scrum became apparent with impressive performances from Guram Gogichashvili and Luka Japaridze in the front row. As the clock ticked down, Georgia dictated the pace of the game and Ireland struggled to break them down until the closing minutes.
Jonny Stewart crossed with ten minutes to go after a set play at the lineout but replays showed a forward pass from Doris to Stewart which ruled the try out and Ireland’s chances in the match were all but over.
Cormac Daly scored a consolation try four minutes from the end before replacement Jakub Wojtkowski scored with the last play to leave the final tally 24-20 in the Georgian’s favour.
Speaking after the game, Ballymena back row forward Matthew Agnew said:
We need to start matches better than we have been doing but credit must go to Georgia who started much better than us. They put us under a lot of pressure in the opening quarter.
We conceded break away tries as a result of switching off and this has been our downfall in the tournament.
They scored after the break and it took us a long time after that to respond.
It [the last ten minutes] definitely showed how much we cared as a team. It was disappointing but we had pride, I don’t think we disgraced the jersey in any way.