Powerful Georgia slay giant-killers Uruguay at Rugby World Cup
Kumagaya (Japan) (AFP) –
Georgia overpowered Uruguay at the Rugby World Cup for a 33-7 bonus-point win on Sunday, the popular South American underdogs unable to repeat their heroics against Fiji four days earlier.
A dominant forward display laid the foundation for an impressive victory by Georgia, who will now target an upset against Australia on October 11 as their path to a shock quarter-final place from Pool D.
Uruguay had rocked the tournament with its first shock result, beating highly talented Fiji by 30-27 in a pulsating match in Kamaishi on Wednesday.
But Georgia coach Milton Haig had targeted Sunday's clash as a "must-win" game and made 12 changes from the side that lost 43-14 to Wales.
"Really proud of the boys and of how we played. It was important for us to get this first win out of the way," said Haig.
"We've worked so hard over the last four months -- even four years really -- so pretty stoked that we ended up getting the job done.
"The pack is a strength of ours, scrum time, maul time, stuff like that. We knew they would come down, four-day turnaround for Uruguay. We knew it would be tough for them."
It was Haig's side -- ranked six places above Uruguay -- that started the brighter, a sustained spell of forward dominance at the scrum leaving space out wide for winger Alexander Todua to score in the left corner.
- Water breaks -
Both sides struggled to impose themselves early in energy-sapping humidity in Kumagaya, which saw the first water breaks at this year's Rugby World Cup.
Georgia's next score came on the half-hour mark. The forwards shoved Uruguay back with another powerful scrum, leaving number eight Otari Giorgadze to pick up at the base and dive over.
Uruguay hit back against the run of play, a clever inside ball slicing up the Georgian defence and leaving inside centre Andres Vilaseca a free run in under the posts.
Esteban Meneses' men could have reduced their arrears further but Felipe Berchesi pushed a penalty attempt wide and the teams turned with Georgia leading 12-7.
Georgia extended their advantage only minutes after half-time, with Uruguay again unable to resist pressure from the heavy forwards and letting prop Levan Chilachava force his way over for a try brilliantly converted from the touchline.
A catch-and-drive from a line-out finished off by Giorgadze secured the bonus-point for Georgia as Uruguay found no answer to the heavier pack.
Uruguay were wilting in the heat and humidity, and a tired error on their own line let outside centre Giorgi Kveseladze in for an easy try to put the result well beyond doubt.
And with only three minutes left on the clock, Uruguayan replacement Facundo Gattas saw a red card for a high shoulder charge to the head, the tournament's second on-pitch dismissal.
Meneses refused to blame the four-day turnaround for Uruguay's defeat, saying: "We knew (about) this. We were preparing for this. We (made) preparations, physical and technical and mental.
"We were prepared for this."
© 2019 AFP