IRB Nations Cup
Georgia have won their first victory at this year's IRB Nations Cup in Bucharest, against the Teros of Uruguay by the slender margin of 20-18.
In what was the third ever clash between these two proud rugby nations the Georgian Lelos fought back from a narrow half time deficit to edge a fine encounter full of action and drama.
Georgia's forwards managed to score the only two tries of the match, one in each half, though Los Teros fly half Matias Arocena kept his team in contention with his steady place kicking, and could have taken the spoils with the last kick of the game.
As expected the Uruguayans suffered in the line out, especially early in the first half when Georgia used their height advantage to good effect to monopolise possession. As a result, Georgia camped in the Uruguay 22, leaving only once they had scored the one and only try of the half through lock forward Giorgi Nemsadze in just the seventh minute.
Strangely the Georgian defence was less potent than in the first match against South Africa's Emerging Springboks, which allowed Uruguay to mount a strong and well-timed recovery.
The South Americans kicked well for territory - notably through full back del Castillo and right wing Nicholas Morales - and were also helped by two Georgian yellow cards shown to centre Alexander Todua and right wing Giorgi Shikinin for fighting. Matias Arocena's three first half penalties ultimately brought Uruguay back into the match and at half time they led 9-7.
The second half started similarly to the first, with Georgia's loose head prop David Gasviani driven over for the only try of the 40 minutes by the dynamic Georgian pack.
The half time break had clearly served the Georgians well and they refound the same level of discipline with which they troubled the South Africa second string on match day one. With that discipline came added control, which made the difference in a very keenly-fought finale.
In the end, with the sides playing each other to a standstill, it was the boot of the Georgian fly half Lasha Malaguradze that made the difference. He converted both tries and landed two penalties within two minutes while Arocena, who had brought Uruguay within a score, failed with his last kick at goal.
"There is a lot to be done with both teams in terms of conditioning and skill levels, but it is very pleasing to see them trying their best to play football," said former Western Province and South Africa assistant coach Alan Solomons, who is in Bucharest on IRB duty as a member of the Governing Body's High Performance Unit.
"It is their positive frame of mind, their shape and organisation, which should be commended."
Georgia Captain Besarion Udsiani (number 8)
"I am very pleased with our fist win in the tournament. It was a very difficult match against a very strong and talented opponent, and I wish to thank Uruguay for the game.
"I am proud of the boys and I hope we can improve. We scored tries, which is very important."
Uruguay captain Juan Campomar (scrum half):
" We were a bit unlucky. We missed a few kickable penalties, including one in the last minute, but we made mistakes and that cost us dearly.
"The lineout was our chief weakness but we played better elsewhere.
"It is interesting how much we improved compared to the Romanian game. This is what we need. this kind of tournaments that stretch us and offer us opportunity to improve. This is the kind of competition we need to make progress."
- 08 March - Sandrine Agricole on France women's Six Nations campaign
- 7 March - England v Wales: Rugby World Cup memories and dreams
- 07 March - Andy Robinson looks ahead to the penultimate round of the Six Nations
- Listen to this week's Total Rugby show
- 03 March - Alain Rolland looks back over his distinguished refereeing career