September 29, 2019 / 7:47 AM / 21 days ago

Georgian muscle brings Uruguay down to earth in Kumagaya

KUMAGAYA, Japan (Reuters) - Georgia’s forwards brought Uruguay back down to earth with a shuddering thump as they laid the foundation for a 33-7 bonus-point victory in their World Cup Pool D clash in stifling heat in Kumagaya on Sunday.

Rugby Union - Rugby World Cup 2019 - Pool D - Georgia v Uruguay - Kumagaya Rugby Stadium, Kumagaya, Japan - September 29, 2019 Georgia players applaud fans after the match REUTERS/Edgar Su

Uruguay finished the game with 14 men after replacement hooker Facundo Gattas was red carded by referee Wayne Barnes for a high, no-arms, tackle with three minutes remaining.

Amid searing heat and high humidity, the match had two officially-sanctioned water breaks at the 20 and 60-minute marks.

Led by number eight Otari Giorgadze and captain Jaba Bregvadze, the Georgians applied even more pressure on the Uruguayan pack, who wilted just four days after producing a massive upset against Fiji in Kamaishi.

Los Teros were unable to reproduce enough of the sparkling running rugby that earned them that win against the physical Georgians.

Georgia had secured the bonus point by the 51st minute after Giorgadze, Bregvadze and tighthead prop Levan Chilachava all scored tries from close range while winger Alexander Todua crossed after a simple movement from an attacking scrum.

Centre Giorgi Kveseladze then capitalised on an Uruguay mistake while clearing the ball at the tryline just before the second water break.

“We worked really hard and prepared well for this match, we knew this was going to be a tough game, we wanted to make all Georgians proud,” said Bregvadze.

Georgia were beaten 43-14 by Wales in their opening game and coach Milton Haig made 12 changes for the clash in Kumagaya where he hoped his side would get back on track to secure automatic qualification for the 2023 World Cup in France.

They did not deviate from their traditional strength with their forwards dominating the set piece and proving too strong in the contact area.

The Europeans had looked like they might run away with the match when Todua crossed in the eighth minute from a stable attacking scrum and movement through the backs.

The game, however, then meandered between the 22-metre areas for much of the next 20 minutes with Uruguay content to spoil and defend, with several collapsed scrums slowing the pace of the game down.

It eventually earned the ire of Barnes, who warned the Uruguay front row that any further collapses would result in a yellow card and the Georgians capitalised with number eight Giorgadze smashing over.

Uruguay, however, found some attacking thrust and struck back with winger Rodrigo Silva receiving an inside pass and exploiting the gap at the tail of a lineout then passing to inside centre Andres Vilaseca to score.

It was ultimately the only shot they fired in the match and after Georgia went into the break with a 12-7 lead they ramped up the pressure in the second half with tries to Chilachava, Bregvadze and Kveseladze.

Georgia next face Fiji in Osaka on Thursday for what could be the decider for third place in the pool and automatic qualification for France in 2023, while Uruguay play Australia in Oita on Oct. 5.

Reporting by Nick Mulvenney in Tokyo and Greg Stutchbury in Oita, editing by Sudipto Ganguly

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