France too good for spirited Georgia

Colin Newboult

France got the expected win over Georgia, claiming a 41-15 triumph, but they were faced with a good display from the battling and, at times skilful, visitors.

Fabien Galthie’s men dominated the opening period but it took a while for it to be shown on the scoreboard. The first quarter ended 3-3, with Melvyn Jaminet and Davit Niniashvili trading three-pointers, before the hosts took advantage of Georgian ill-discipline.

Los Lelos had Tedo Abzhandadze and Beka Saghinadze sin-binned – the latter leading to a penalty try – before Matthieu Jalibert and Damian Penaud touched down for the hosts.

At 24-3 in front, Les Bleus had effectively secured the win but the away side had their moments, especially in the second half, and scored well worked efforts through Vasil Lobzhanidze and Akaki Tabutsadze.

France, as expected, were much the better side, though, and completed the victory as Peato Mauvaka (twice) and Penaud went over.

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France were expected to easily dispatch their opponents but, despite controlling play, they were struggling to get over the line in the early stages.

Mistakes were prevalent in their game, with Sekou Macalou particularly culpable, and they had to be content with a penalty from Jaminet.

They were then boosted by a sin-binning for Abzhandadze but the French couldn’t benefit and instead it was Niniashvili that levelled matters from the tee.

Les Bleus continued to press, however, and eventually got their reward as a maul was taken to ground illegally by Georgia, leading to a penalty try and yellow card for Saghinadze.

The Georgians’ fly-half returned after his 10 minutes off the field but the visitors were still down to 14 men and then found themselves further in arrears on the scoreboard as Jalibert crossed the whitewash.

An already comfortable lead was soon extended through Penaud for a 24-3 advantage at the interval, but it was reduced at the start of the second period.

Los Lelos were bright with ball in hand and Lobzhanidze sniped his way over to reduce the arrears.

Although France immediately responded via Mauvaka, the momentum had switched and the Georgians were playing some excellent rugby.

They looked well organised and impressively coached, giving the half-backs plenty of options, and were rewarded as Tabutsadze finished superbly out wide.

Evidently irked by that score, the hosts ended the match strongly as Penaud and Mauvaka crossed the whitewash to complete an ultimately comfortable triumph.