Wallabies end losing streak in style as they open Rugby World Cup with clinical win over Georgia

Planet Rugby
Carter Gordon and Ben Donaldson for Wallabies.

Carter Gordon and Ben Donaldson for Wallabies.

Australia ended a run of five straight losses as they kicked off their Rugby World Cup campaign with an impressive 35-15 win over Georgia on Saturday.

The drought is finally over for the Wallabies as tries from Jordan Petaia, Mark Nawaqanitawase and Ben Donaldson (2) sealed a first-up pool triumph.

Donaldson also contributed 15 points off the kicking tee in a strong outing at full-back as Eddie Jones‘ troops avoided a potential banana skin in Paris.

Luka Ivanishvili and Beka Gigashvili were the Lelos’ only try scorers on the day, as Georgia missed the chance to cause a shock at the Stade de France.

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The Wallabies – with former England head coach Jones having taken over again in January – needed just a couple of minutes to get their first try when the ball was worked out wide to Petaia.

Georgia, who have yet to qualify from the pool stage in their five previous World Cup appearances, soon reduced the deficit with a penalty from Luka Matkava.

However, Australia – twice world champions but heading into the tournament with low expectations back home – swiftly extended their lead again with a try from wing Nawaqanitawase after good work by Petaia. This time, full-back Donaldson did convert for the extra two points.

Donaldson then kicked three penalties to put further daylight between the sides, punishing more indiscipline from Georgia.

Australia scrum-half Tate McDermott was replaced by Nic White shortly before the break after taking a blow to the head as he went into a tackle.

Georgia were reduced to 14 men when winger Mirian Modebadze took out White for a second penalty and was swiftly sent to the sin-bin by Welsh referee Luke Pearce as Australia went into half-time with a 21-3 lead.

The Lelos, though, rallied at the start of the second half, with flanker Ivanishvili powering over for a try.

Australia were soon back on the offensive when prop Taniela Tupou took an interception to pick out Donaldson, who dived over next to the posts and then added the extras.

Donaldson capped a fine individual display when he scored another try in the 70th minute, taking a pass from Carter Gordon to secure Australia’s bonus point before Georgia added a late consolation try from a lineout through replacement prop Gigashvili.

The teams

Australia: 15 Ben Donaldson, 14 Mark Nawaqanitawase, 13 Jordan Petaia, 12 Samu Kerevi, 11 Marika Koroibete, 10 Carter Gordon, 9 Tate McDermott, 8 Rob Valetini, 7 Fraser McReight, 6 Tom Hooper, 5 Will Skelton (c), 4 Richie Arnold, 3 Taniela Tupou, 2 David Porecki, 1 Angus Bell
Replacements: 16 Matt Faessler, 17 Blake Schoupp, 18 Zane Nonggorr, 19 Rob Leota, 20 Langi Gleeson, 21 Nic White, 22 Lalakai Foketi, 23 Suliasi Vunivalu

Georgia: 15 Davit Niniashvili, 14 Akaki Tabutsadze, 13 Demur Tapladze, 12 Merab Sharikadze (c), 11 Miriani Modebadze, 10 Luka Matkava, 9 Vasil Lobzhanidze, 8 Beka Gorgadze, 7 Luka Ivanishvili, 6 Tornike Jalagonia, 5 Konstantine Mikautadze, 4 Nodar Cheishvili, 3 Guram Papidze, 2 Shalva Mamukashvili, 1 Nika Abuladze
Replacements: 16 Tengizi Zamtaradze, 17 Guram Gogichashvili, 18 Beka Gigashvili, 19 Lasha Jaiani, 20 Giorgi Tsutskiridze, 21 Gela Aprasidze, 22 Tedo Abzhandadze, 23 Giorgi Kveseladze

Referee: Luke Pearce (England)
Assistant Referees: James Doleman (New Zealand), Craig Evans (Wales)
TMO: Brian MacNeice (Ireland)

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