Ireland had to wait but finished with a six-try win over visitors Georgia with a 49-7 victory at the Aviva Stadium in Dublin.
Ireland had to wait but finished with a six-try win over visitors Georgia with a 49-7 victory at the Aviva Stadium in Dublin on Sunday.
The hosts showed plenty of endeavour in the opening half but struggled to finish off plenty of opportunities, as Joe Schmidt rested leading stars such as Paul O’Connell and Jonathan Sexton for the clash with European Nations Cup champions.
Dave Foley and Dominic Ryan were both handed debuts in the pack, with Robin Copeland another player to win a first cap when he came on as a replacement.
In the end Ireland’s accuracy shone through after the break, when they racked up all of their six tries.
Georgia showed impressive resilience in defence early on as Ireland continually broke the line, before the Lelos rallied to slow down the ball at the ruck and use their power to drive Ireland backwards.
Multiple chances were missed by Ireland and they showed respect opting for the posts rather than the corner, Madigan adding two penalties and missing one in an industrious but unsuccessful first half.
The major talking point surrounded openside flanker Vito Kolelishvili, who with a lazy leg caught the eye of Dominic Ryan at the bottom of a ruck.
The incident wasn’t refereed to the TMO and there was no penalty, but it looked nasty as Kolelishvili was lucky to escape possible punishment even though his action could be deemed as accidental.
Had that not been the case, he would have been in big trouble and the citing officer may take a closer look.
Dave Kilcoyne was prominent for Ireland, coming up with a rampaging run in the first half, and he followed it up with Ireland’s first try just after half-time when he powered through two tacklers to dot down.
Scrum-half Giorgi Begadze had paid the price for his team’s mounting penalty count just before the interval and by the 43rd minute Ireland led 16-0.
Capitalising on Georgia’s lack of numbers and sensing the ascendancy with their maul, Richardt Strauss was the next man to benefit as Ireland’s pack got to work again and finished in the right corner.
Georgia to their credit refused to give up and were justly rewarded following an injection of impetus from their replacement front row.
Begadze, back on the field after his yellow card, scampered down the blindside and setup the lock Giorgi Nemsadze for a fine try.
Simon Zebo couldn’t be stopped after Ireland created a huge overlap to score their third try, seconds after Dimitri Basilaia became the second Georgian player sent to the bin.
There was real concern however over the condition of Lasha Malaguradze, who took a nasty head knock and was attended to by medical staff before being stretchered off and encouragingly waving his arms to the crowd.
Not by any surprise, Georgia’s worst moments came when down to 14 men and Felix Jones pounced for Ireland’s fourth try with too much space and time in the corner.
Jones didn’t have to wait long for a second, Robin Copeland’s rip in the tackle making room for Ireland’s replacements – Kieran Marmion, Ian Keatley and Sean Cronin – to all surge upfield and hand Jones the chance to score.
Stuart Olding got in on the act for a weaving try as Georgia’s defence lost their shape and Ireland lined up to add more scores, with debutant Foley named Man of the Match to cap off a strong first outing.
Job done for Schmidt, who will now begin planning for the visit of the Wallabies next weekend as Ireland look to end November unbeaten.
Tries: Kilcoyne, Strauss, Zebo, Jones 2, Olding
Cons: Madigan 5
Pens: Madigan 3
Yellow Card: Begadze, Basilaia
Ireland: 15 Felix Jones, 14 Craig Gilroy, 13 Darren Cave, 12 Gordon D’Arcy, 11 Simon Zebo, 10 Ian Madigan, 9 Eoin Reddan (c), 8 Robbie Diack, 7 Tommy O’Donnell, 6 Dominic Ryan, 5 Mike McCarthy, 4 Dave Foley, 3 Mike Ross, 2 Richardt Strauss, 1 Dave Kilcoyne.
Replacements: 16 Sean Cronin, 17 Jack McGrath, 18 Rodney Ah You, 19 Devin Toner, 20 Robin Copeland, 21 Kieran Marmion, 22 Ian Keatley, 23 Stuart Olding.
Georgia:15 Merab Kvirikashvili, 14 Tamaz Mchedlidze, 13 David Kacharava , 12 Merab Sharikadze, 11 Sandro Todua, 10 Lasha Khmaladze, 9 Giorgi Begadze, 8 Dimitri Basilaia, 7 Vito Kolelishvili, 6 Giorgi Tkhilaishvili, 5 Giorgi Nemsadze, 4 Kote Mikautadze, 3 Davit Kubriashvili, 2 Shalva Mamukashvili, 1 Mikheil Nariashvili
Replacements: 16 Simon Maisuradze, 17 Zurab Zhvania, 18 Levan Chilachava, 19 Levan Datunashvili, 20 Giorgi Chkhaidze, 21 Vazha Khutsishvili, 22 Lasha Malaguradze, 23 Muraz Giorgadze
Referee: JP Doyle (England)
Assistant Referees: Luke Pearce (England), Federico Anselmi (Argentina)
TMO: Jim Yuille (Scotland)