A marvelous 34-point performance from Georgian fullback Soso Matiashvili led his country to a 54-22 win over Canada at the Dinamo Arena on Saturday. The Lelos were the superior side throughout, dominating possession and territory and punishing the Canadians for every mistake.
It was a measured approach from the Lelos, who used their forwards to wear down the Canadian tacklers but also attacked with more width than we have seen in the past. Georgia completely controlled the tempo, but Canada was guilty of playing into their strengths. They strolled to the lineout on their own ball and too often tried to take the Georgians on up front. When they failed to breach the wall they kicked away attacking possession.
Discipline was also a problem for the visitors. The scrum was second best but it was accuracy at the breakdown that cost them dearly, either through from the tee or the lineout. Giorgi Nemsadze, Levan Chilachava, and Karlen Asieshvili each scored either directly from the maul or as a result of it.
In Matiashvili the Lelos have found a successor for the great Merab Kvirikashvili. The left-footer had a dream day kicking 10 from 11 shots at goal, several from bad angles, and added two tries of his own. Within two minutes he was into the corner. Lasha Khmaladze hit Mirian Modebadze on a cross-kick from a set move and Matiashvili was there for the offload.
His second try came from turnover ball. Canada’s cover defense was slow to react and Matiashvili put boot to ball and hit the afterburners. The ball looked to rolling dead but the replays showed that the diving Georgian just managed to touch down before the line for a spectacular individual effort.
Merab Sharikadze scored the other Georgian try, racing onto the ball after charging down Patrick Parfrey’s attempted clearance. It was the second such charge-down during the match, the first coming just seconds after kickoff when Canada were lucky to regather. The midfield pressure from Sharikadze and midfield partner Davit Kacharava was present throughout.
Canada did manage to score three tries when they did opt to play with pace. Two came from Phil Mack’s decision to go quick at the penalty, the first shipped wide left for Taylor Paris to touch down and the second a switch play up the middle that put DTH van der Merwe under the sticks. The third was simple enough, attacking on the left and then sending it wide right where Andrew Coe was in space to give Brock Staller an easy finish.
The team will have much to review and consider ahead of the next stop on their tour, a trip to Madrid to face Spain. It’s a step down from the foreboding atmosphere of Tbilisi but still a significant challenge with the Spanish side composed entirely of professionals, many of whom play in France. Georgia will travel to Cardiff to test themselves against Wales.
Tries – S. Matiashvili 2 (2′, 68′), G. Nemsadze (40′), L. Chilachava (51′), M. Sharikadze (58′), K. Asieshvili (78′)
Cons – S. Matiashvili 6/6 (3′, 40′, 52′, 59′, 69′, 79′)
Pens – S. Matiashvili 4/5 (10′, 15′, 24′, 45′)
Tries – T. Paris (34′), D. van der Merwe (56′), B. Staller (60′)
Cons – B. Staller 2/3 (57′, 61′)
Pens – B. Staller 1/1 (8′)
1 Mikheil Nariashvili (17 Karlen Asieshvili 51′), 2 Jaba Bregvadze (16 Shalva Mamukashvili 57′), 3 Levan Chilachava (18 Soso Bekoshvili 57′), 4 Kote Mikautadze (19 Giorgi Chkhaidze 53′), 5 Giorgi Nemsadze, 6 Lasha Lomidze, 7 Vito Kolelishvili (20 Giga Tkhilaishvili 60′), 8 Beka Bitsadze, 9 Vaso Lobzhanidze (21 Giorgi Begadze 63′), 10 Lasha Khmaladze (22 Rezi Jinchvelashvili 70′), 11 Mirian Modebadze, 12 Merab Sharikadze (capt.), 13 Davit Kacharava (23 Giorgi Kveseladze 73′), 14 Giorgi Koshadze, 15 Soso Matiashvili
1 Djustice Sears-Duru (17 Anthony Luca 53′), 2 Ray Barkwill (16 Eric Howard 53′), 3 Jake Ilnicki (18 Cole Keith 53′), 4 Josh Larsen, 5 Evan Olmstead (19 Kyle Baillie 70′), 6 Lucas Rumball (21 Kyle Gilmour 25′), 7 Matt Heaton, 8 Tyler Ardron, 9 Phil Mack (capt.), 10 Patrick Parfrey, 11 Taylor Paris, 12 Ciaran Hearn (23 Guiseppe du Toit 63′), 13 DTH van der Merwe, 14 Brock Staller, 15 Andrew Coe
Not used: 20 Conor Keys, 22 Andrew Ferguson
Referee: Ben Whitehouse (WRU)
Assistants: Alex Ruiz (FFR) & Craig Evans (WRU)
TMO: Neil Hennessy (WRU)