Planet Rugby

Georgia make life tough for England

18th September 2011 06:05

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Shontayne Hape England v georgia

England brace: Shontayne Hape

England ran six tries past Georgia for a 41-10 win, but were made to work overtime for their victory in Dunedin on Sunday.

Whilst England bagged maximum points against the brave Georgians, who never gave up until the final whistle, Martin Johnson will know there's still plenty of work ahead in what was another unconvincing display by his side.

But as it was, Shontayne Hape (2), Delon Armitage, Manu Tuilagi and Chris Ashton (2) crossed for tries, while Toby Flood added 11 points with the boot.

Georgia managed a try of their own, through number eight Dimitri Basilaia, however will rue five missed kicks at goal by pivot Merab Kvirikashvili - three in the first half, and two after the break.

The minnows, who had to cope with a four-day turnaround after a 15-6 defeat by Scotland on Wednesday, briefly had a shot at the greatest World Cup upset of all-time.

They were only 17-10 down at half-time after England, for the second match in a row, had a player yellow-carded, with hooker Dylan Hartley sin-binned shortly before the break.

However, one couldn't blame England for thinking they were in for an easy night's work as they opened the scoring after just three minutes after Hape scooted through a gap at the fringes of the breakdown to run through unopposed.

Georgia's response was almost immediate, though, as England coughed up possession from a scrum in their own 22, but Ashton did just enough to deny opposite number Irakli Machkhaneli in the corner.

Kvirikashvili then missed two shots at goal while Alexander Todua was brought down by Ben Youngs as the eastern Europeans took the game to their more illustrious hosts.

England were doing themselves no favours as they conceded a series of needless penalties at the breakdown. However having endured an uncomfortable 15-minute spell, England began to settle and put the phases together.

And unlike Georgia, they took their chance when it came along with Hape benefiting after a series of drives forward to dot down for his second try. Flood converted to put England 14-0 up after 22 minutes.

Kvirikashvili was off target with his third successive kick before the Georgia fly-half finally found his target after 27 minutes. Flood, though, responded with a penalty of his own to restore England's 14-point lead.

But Georgia finished the half with a flourish and England again shot themselves in the foot as Hartley was sin-binned for hands in a ruck.

Basilaia bundled his way over from a close-range scrum for a try on the stroke of half-time which Kvirikashvili converted.

England's nerves were soothed though when wing Delon Armitage went over for a 45th minute try after being denied earlier by the TMO, who ruled his foot went into touch.

Georgia kept coming and when England infringed again, Kvirikashvili hit the left post from right in front. And just after the hour mark England put the game beyond Georgia's reach, with two quickfire tries.

First Tuilagi scythed through on a well-angled, cut back run from a pass by Youngs before Ashton, released by flanker Tom Wood, had too much speed for a tired defence to swallow dive in under the posts.

In the dying seconds, Ashton crossed in the corner for his second try of the match.

Victory for England, but a proud performance from Georgia.

Man of the match: A late inclusion at number eight after Nick Easter's injury, James Haskell produced a lung-bursting defensive performance and gave England some go-forward, but was overshadowed by Georgia openside and our man of the match Mamuka Gorgodze.

Moment of the match: Of all the seven tries scored, we felt the only one that left a lasting impression was the one scored by Georgia. It signalled that the eastern Europeans weren't going to roll over so easily.

Villain of the match: Dylan Hartley joins England's yellow card club.

The scorers:

For England:
Tries: Hape 2, Armitage, Tuilagi, Ashton 2
Cons: Flood 4
Pen: Flood

For Georgia:
Try: Basilaia
Con: Kvirikashvili
Pen: Kvirikashvili

England: 15 Ben Foden, 14 Chris Ashton, 13 Manu Tuilagi, 12 Shontayne Hape, 11 Delon Armitage, 10 Toby Flood, 9 Ben Youngs, 8 James Haskell, 7 Lewis Moody (c), 6 Tom Wood, 5 Tom Palmer, 4 Simon Shaw, 3 Dan Cole, 2 Dylan Hartley, 1 Matt Stevens.
Replacements: 16 Steve Thompson, 17 Alex Corbisiero, 18 Tom Croft, 19 Louis Deacon, 20 Joe Simpson, 21 Jonny Wilkinson, 22 Matt Banahan.

Georgia: 15 Revaz Gigauri, 14 Irakli Machkhaneli, 13 David Kacharava, 12 Tedo Zibzibadze, 11 Alexander Todua, 10 Merab Kvirikashvili, 9 Irakli Abuseridze (c), 8 Dimitri Basilaia, 7 Mamuka Gorgodze, 6 Shalva Sutiashvili, 5 Vakhtang Maisuradze, 4 Ilia Zedginidze, 3 David Kubriashvili, 2 Jaba Bregvadze, 1 David Khinchagishvili.
Replacements: 16 Akvsenti Giorgadze, 17 David Zirakashvili, 18 Levan Datunashvili, 19 Giorgi Chkhaidze, 20 Bidzina Samkharadze, 21 Givi Berishvili, 22 Lasha Khmaladze.

Referee: Jonathan Kaplan (South Africa)

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