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23rd Sep 2019

Liam Williams inspires Welsh past Georgian side who never threw in the towel

Jeff Simon

Wales got their World Cup campaign off to a flying start against minnows Georgia in Toyota City in their Pool D opener.

Wales had come into the game under a cloud of turbulence with Stephen Jones taking over as head coach after Rob Howley was sent home, but they were quick to get down to business here.

Jonathan Davies got the ball rolling with an early try and he was quickly followed over by Justin Tipuric, Josh Adams and Liam Williams as the Welsh breezed into the dressing room with a 29-0 lead. The game really was all over by then.

Wales 43-14 Georgia

First Half: Domination from the Welsh

And so with 15,00 Welsh fans roaring their team on under humid conditions, the game kicked off.

More than a minute into the game and Wales got their first scrum; as they retained possession, the ball was moved wide to Jonathan Davies who eventually breezed past the Georgian defence to score a try.

Dan Biggar won’t look back at what was to follow fondly however.

Three minutes later and Georgia were penalised for an offside with Wales receiving the benefit of a penalty. Dan Biggar stepped up to convert to take the score to 8-0 just six minutes into the match.

Georgia didn’t get off to a good start and Wales took advantage with another try in the 13th minute as Gareth Davies made a break before¬†Justin Tipuric capitalised on a gap to run through the posts. Biggar grabbed the extras and Wales were cruising.

Wales looked well-drilled and sharp and 18 minutes in, they took a line-out inside their own half and moments later, they landed their third try courtesy of Josh Adams. Biggar converted with ease as the scoreline read 22-0 with the result seemingly set in stone at this early stage.

Georgian coach Milton Haig almost certainly didn’t see this coming so early in the game but here it was. It was up to his team to respond and pick up their defending which up till now had been far too lax affording Wales ample space and receiving due punishment for it.

Georgia slowly began to grow into the game and despite the 22-point gap separating the two teams, Wales had a few minutes on the back foot.

With minutes left in the first half Wales slammed in another try as Liam Williams grabbed five more points off a one bounce pass from Davies. The resulting conversion made for grim reading for the Georgians with a scoreline of 29-0 as halftime arrived.

As the teams headed down the tunnels, Wales would have the lighter of the two team talks having planted their flag multiple times in the Georgian half over the previous 45 minutes.

Second Half: Georgia fight back

As the second half rumbled into life, Georgia had it all to do and they got off to a great start as three minutes in, Shalva Mamukashvili scrubbed the ball over the line much to the delight of the spectating neutrals in what turned out to be a typical Georgian try. Tedo Abzhandadze scooped up the extras to bring the score to 29-7. Were the Georgians plotting a possible comeback?

55 minutes in and they were holding up well, keeping the Welsh at bay demonstrating a fight which was missing in the first half.

65 minutes in however and it was the Welsh with a try as George North kicked through for Tomos Williams who collected to pass through the posts. Biggar added the extras for a score of 36-7.

They wouldn’t in the towel though as Georgia responded with a deserved try just two minutes later.¬†Levan Chilachava¬†did¬†the honours as he carried on from the base of the ruck and dived over the bodies to score his side’s second try.¬†Abzhandadze completed the conversion to push the score to 36-17.

Nevertheless, with less than five minutes to full time, North skilfully evaded some defenders to touch down in the corner after Williams did brilliantly to dodge some tackles. As Leigh Halfpenny added the conversion, the final scoreline read 43-14 to Wales.

And so it finished at the Toyota stadium.

For the Welsh, while the game was won at a relative canter, their second half performance would be a slight cause for concern and certainly their next game against the Wallabies will almost certainly represent a bigger test in five days’ time.

In the aftermath of the game, Welsh captain¬†Alun Wyn Jones spoke: “We ticked a lot of the boxes in the first half but we are probably a bit disappointed with the second half. We let a couple of tries and we did not continue in a similar fashion. We took our foot off the gas so there is plenty to work on.

As for Georgia, their second half resurgence certainly got the neutrals cheering them on and they should feel quite good about squaring off against Uruguay next.

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