Host nation Georgia and Argentina Jaguars recorded wins on the opening day of the IRB Tbilisi Cup
Georgia 23-13 Spain
A commanding first half performance was enough for Georgia to record a 23-13 victory over European rivals Spain in the opening match of Tbilisi Cup 2014.
The hosts scored three first-half tries to one to go in with a 20-7 lead at half-time. Requiring only one try for the bonus point in the second half, an error-strewn display of rugby meant that for all their dominance they could only add a penalty goal.
The first half was played at a frenetic pace in the heat of the Georgian capital city. The Lelos, as the Georgia team are affectionately known, started the encounter in a physical fashion, dominating the ruck area and in doing so allowing quick ball for their back line to flourish.
Full back Beka Tsiklauri got the home side on the scoreboard after 16 minutes with a well struck penalty after which his side scored their first try. Fly half Lasha Malaguradze executed a pinpoint cross field kick,which was well gathered by winger Tamaz Mtchedlidze, who finished smartly in the corner.
Spain responded quickly with an opportunistic score from flanker Adam Newton. The Georgian full back fumbled a high ball which fell fortuitously for Alberto Diaz. The winger evaded one tackler before passing inside to Newton who dotted down under the posts. Centre Daniel Snee added the extras to cut the hosts' lead to one point at 8-7.
Smarting from their error, Georgia responded emphatically with two tries in quick succession before half-time. First to cross the whitewash was hooker Shalva Mamukashvilli who powered his way over from five metres out.
Two minutes out from half-time Sandro Todua extended the lead with a powerful run down the touchline to score in the corner to give his side a 20-7 lead at the break.
Milton Haig's side had the majority of the territory in the second half, but a mixture of forced and unforced errors allowed Spain to stay in the contest. Two penalty goals from Mariano Garcia cut the Georgian lead to 20-13 and put the Spanish in losing bonus point range. However a second penalty from Tsiklauri just before full-time took the bonus point away from Spain and made the final score 23-13.
Milton Haig, the New Zealand-born Georgian coach was frustrated with his side's display, "I was disappointed with the performance, we know we can play a lot better," he said. "At times in the first half we were very good, we scored two excellent tries, but we need to be more consistent with our performance. In the second half we made far too many errors and we know we have to be better on Wednesday for our next match with Argentina Jaguars."
Spain coach Santiago Santos took pride from the Spanish effort: "We are happy with our performance, and as I said the other day at the media launch, our target is Japan 2019 and building for that tournament. Today was a good start. Our squad is made up of domestic players and their courage today was very pleasing. Our defence was very good in the first half and we put some good phases of attack together in the second half, so overall we are happy."
Score sequence (Georgia first): 3-0, 8-0, 8-7, 15-7, 20-7, 20-10, 20-13, 23-13
Scorers: Georgia: Tries: Mtchedlidze (22), Mamukashvili (33), Todua (38). Penalties: Tsiklauri (16, 80). Conversions: Tsiklauri. Spain: Tries: Newton (30). Conversions: Snee. Penalties: Garcia (53, 75)
Georgia: Beka Tsiklauri; Tamaz Mtchedlidze, Davit Katcharava, Revaz Gigauri, Alexander Todua; Lasha Malaguradze, Giorgi Begadze; Zurab Zhvania, Shalva Mamukashvili, Davit Kubriashvili, Giorgi Nemsadze, Kote Mikautadze, Shalva Sutiashili ©, Giorgi Tkhilaishvili, Dimitri Basilaia
Replacements: Simon Maisuradze, Giorgi Mtchedlishvili, Lasha Lomidze, Givi Berishvili, Giorgi Rokhvadze, Irakli Qiasashvili, Muraz Giorgadze
Spain: Javier Carrion; Alberto Diaz, Ignacio Gutierrez, Daniel Ross Snee, Segio Fernanadez; Mariano Garcia, Facundo Munilla; Francisco Javier Sanz, Juan Anaya, Jesus Moreno, Alejandro Blanco, Victor Sanchez, Manuel Mora, Adam Newton, Jaime Nava ©
Replacements: Agustin Ortiz, Romain Asensi, Guillermo Espinos, Jose Luis Del Valle, Francisco Coplet, Alejandro Gutierrez, Pablo Fontes
Emerging Italy 20-45 Argentina Jaguars
Argentina Jaguars kicked off their 2014 Tbilisi Cup campaign with a 45-20 win against Emerging Italy in the second game on Saturday evening.
A rampant second-half display saw the Argentines score six tries to overturn a half-time deficit and win comfortably by 15 points.
The two sides were very evenly matched throughout the first half with almost all the statistics a 50/50 split. Edoardo Padovani got Emerging Italy on the scoreboard first with a well struck penalty after 16 minutes before Newcastle Falcons-bound centre, Juan Pablo Socino quickly cancelled it out with the first of his three first-half penalty goals after 19 minutes.
Italian full back David Michael Odiete ignited the occasion with a great break down the right hand touchline that led to the only try of the first half. Odiete drew the last man and passed back inside to winger Simone Ragusi who had a simple run in.
Argentina dominated the last ten minutes of the first half, kicking two further penalties through the boot of Socino to make it 10-9 to Emerging Italy at the break.
There was a lively start to the second stanza with both sides registering points quickly. Padovani kicked his second penalty of the match on 42 minutes before Argentina Jaguars took the lead with their first try through Ignacio Brex after a fantastic break from Facundo Barrea. Socino added the conversion to put the Jaguars in front 16-13.
That lead was extended moments later when fly half and Man of the Match, Sebastien Poet waltzed through the Emerging Italy defence to score a fantastic individual try next to the uprights. Socino kept up his impeccable kicking record by adding the conversion and giving his side a healthy advantage.
The Italians had the opportunity to cut the deficit on two occasions however both efforts at goal drifted wide of the posts and the Jaguars capitalised. A well-constructed maul was pulled down just short of the line and referee Dudley Phillips had no hesitation in going under the posts for a penalty try. Socino added the simple conversion to stretch the Jaguars lead to 30-13.
The South Americans crossed for their bonus point try on 63 minutes, showing great handling in the build up. Once the overlap was created winger Ramiro Moyano had a simple finish. The fifth Jaguars try was this time created by Moyano who could have scored himself. However he passed inside to full back Gonzalo Guitierrez Taboada who just had to put the ball down.
Emerging Italy finished strongly and crossed for a consolation score through Michele Visentin. But the Jaguars had the final word with their sixth try from replacement Matias Masera to make the final score Argentina Jaguars 45 Emerging Italy 20.
Jubilant Argentina Jaguars coach Bernado Urdanetta said: "We showed great spirit in that second half and played our rugby and scored some good tries. We must learn from our first half ahead of our next match, we need to have a complete performance, but to score six second-half tries was extremely pleasing."
Tommaso Castello, captain of Emerging Italy, added: "We are very disappointed with our second half performance, we played well in the first 40 and we were happy to get to half time in front. The second half was not good enough, the Jaguars came back strongly and upped their intensity. We need to go away and improve and ensure in the next game we keep our concentration for the full 80 minutes."
Emerging Italy take on Spain in Round 2 with Georgia and Argentina Jaguars going head to head on Wednesday evening.
Score sequence (Emerging Italy first) 3-0, 3-3, 10-3, 10-6, 10-9, 13-9, 13-16, 13-23, 13-30, 13-35, 13-40, 20-40, 20-45,
Scorers: Emerging Italy: Tries: Ragusi (25), Visentin (78).Penalties: Padovani (16, 42).
Conversions: Padovani, Violi. Argentina Jaguars: Tries: Brex (43), Poet (47), Penalty Try (54), Moyano (63), Taboada (69), Masera (80).Penalties: Socino (19, 30, 38). Conversions: Socino (3)
Argentina Jaguars: Gonzalo Guitierrez Taboada, Facundo Barrea, Ignacio Brex, Juan Pablo Socino, Ramiro Moyano; Sebastian Poet, Marcos Bollini; Santiago Garcia Botta, Tomas Baravalle, Damian Arias, Martin Chappesoni, Lucas Ponce, Lucas Maguire, Facundo Isa, Lisandro Ahaulli ©
Replacements: Facundo Bosch, Nahuel Lobo, Gaston Cortes, Franco Baldoni, Lautaro Casado, Matias Masera, Felipe Ezcurra
Emerging Italy: David Michael Odiete; Simone Ragusi, Giulio Bisegni, Tommaso Castello ©, Michele Visentin; Edoardo Padovani, James Ambrosini; Andrea Lovotti, Ornel Gega, Lorenzo Romano, Matteo Ferro, Filippo Gerosa, Nicola Belardo, Emiliano Caffini, Gabriele Cicchinelli
Replacements: Giovanni Scalvi, Luca Scarsini, Jacopo Sarto, Maxime Mbanda', Enrico Bacchin, Marcello Violi, Alex Morsellino Marcello Violi