Rugby World Cup 2015: Georgia outmuscle favourites Tonga in Gloucester
Georgia upset Pacific Island nation Tonga with a stunning 17-10 victory in Pool C of the Rugby World Cup.
Inspired by captain Mamuka Gorgodze, Georgia held off a desperate second-half surge by Tonga to secure a surprise 17-10 win over the Pacific Islanders in their Rugby World Cup Pool C opener on Saturday (Sunday NZ time).
Gorgodze, the number eight nicknamed Gorgodzilla for his mighty bulk, was named man of the match after leading by example in a tense and bone-crunching encounter.
“I have big emotions, I think all national team of Georgia were man of the match, it is not only me,” he said after Georgia’s delighted players had sealed only their third ever World Cup victory and wrapped themselves in the national flag.
Tonga’s Sione Kalamafoni is tackled by Georgia’s Tamaz Mchedlidze during their Rugby World Cup clash.
Gorgodze had set the foundations by driving through a melee of defenders to touch down right under the posts for the first try, which took Georgia into a 10-3 lead at the interval.
In the second half, a long, swerving run by veteran fullback Merab Kvirikashvili, playing in his fourth World Cup, set up the move that allowed flanker Giorgi Tkhilaishvili to score in the corner.
Georgia’s Mamuka Gorgodze celebrates with fans after his team trounced Tonga.
Georgia captain Mamuka Gorgodze scores his team’s first try.
Giorgi Nemsadze of Georgia celebrates with his national flag after his team beat Tonga.
Georgia’s Lasha Malaguradze in action with Tonga’s Siale Piutau.
Tonga players perform the kailao before the match.
Siale Piutau of Tonga is tackled by Viktor Kolelishvili of Georgia.
Tonga players look dejected during their match against Georgia.
Georgia players celebrate after beating Tonga.
With Kvirikashvili slotting the difficult conversion, Georgia appeared to have taken an unassailable lead at 17-3.
But Tonga dominated the final quarter and were unlucky not to score when centre Siale Piutau, running on to a clever grubber kick from flyhalf Kurt Morath, just failed to control the ball and touch down.
After running into wall upon wall of Georgian tackles, the Pacific Islanders got their reward when they managed to get the ball out wide for winger Fetu’u Vainikolo to score in the corner and Morath to convert. But they could not break through for the second try that might have levelled the scores.
In a stop-start game, it was Tonga who strung together many of the most attractive passing sequences, but their efforts to move the ball out wide were thwarted by inaccurate passing and handling errors.
In the dying moments of the first half, number eight Vili Ma’afu broke clean through the Georgian defence but had the try disallowed for a forward pass.
Morath opened the scoring for Tonga with a penalty and Georgian fullback Merab Kvirikashvili, after missing one straightforward kick, pulled his side level before Gorgodze’s try enabled Georgia to pull ahead.
In a group likely to be dominated by New Zealand and Argentina, Georgia now look well placed to meet their stated objective by taking third place, which would qualify them automatically for the next tournament in Japan in 2019.
Georgia next face the Pumas of Argentina at the same venue on Friday, while Tonga play Namibia on Sept. 29.
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