Emerging SA find Georgia tough to crack

(IRB.COM) Wednesday 11 June 2008
By Chris Thau
From Bucharest
 Emerging SA find Georgia tough to crack
Emerging South Africa's Ashley Johnson breaks from a scrum, as the Georgian defence closes in

It was as bewildering as it was impressive: Georgia, without most of their French-based players, have given trophy holders the Emerging Springboks a real fright in the second match of the IRB Nations Cup in Bucharest.


Although they lost by one try and two penalties to one penalty goal (11-3) - having held the South Africans to a 3-3 draw at the break - the Georgian players left the field with their heads held high.

Add to that two penalties which hit the SA upright and one has a clearer image of the gallant Georgian challenge in a match of a ferocious physical intensity, played in a remarkable spirit and total fair play.

The Georgians challenged their rivals up front and in the loose, at the rucks and in the mauls. It was relentless and it was brutal, the kind of game the South Africans cherish and they must be given credit for resisting the onslaught, keeping their cool and emerging winners in the end, after an epic battle that is a credit to both teams.

Isma-eel Dollie landed a penalty after half and hour, with Andorra-based Otar Barkalia levelling the score just before break.

The match carried on in a similar fashion in the second half. Soon after the break Dollie landed another penalty, with right wing Howard Noble, managing to break the deadlock with the sole try of the encounter.

In the absence of national coach Tim Lane, the two Georgian coaches, Nikoloz Chavchavadze and Levan Miasashvili, who coached Georgia U20 to a creditable bronze medal position in the IRB Junior World Rugby Trophy in Chile - must be comfortable with the depth of talent on display.

On the other hand, Chester Williams, the Emerging Springboks coach must declare himself satisfied with the outcome: a hard challenge up front, won by a whisker by his side, due to character, ingenuity, and, as in any close rugby match, a bit of luck.

Post-match quotes

Georgia coach Nikoloz Chavchavadze

"It was a tough match, which tested our young side to the full and we wish to thank our South African friends for the way they played the game, hard but fair. We could have won, but I think that the result is fair, South Africa are the better side and we will learn a lot from the encounter.

"We will play to win the next match, though in this tournament all teams are of similar standard and anybody can win."

Georgia captain Besarion Udesiani

"Last year we lost by 16 points, this year by eight points so we must be making progress. Besides, we are missing some of our top players, unable to make the trip for a variety of reasons, so, we are basically pleased with the way we played. It was the first match and we will improve."

South Africa captain Morgan Newman

"It was a very tight game. Georgia surprised with with their reply. We knew they were strong, but they surpassed our expectations. We need to improve for the next game."

South Africa coach Chester Williams

"Today we realised that although holders of the trophy we are no longer favourites. I was very much impressed by Italy, who must be the real favourites."