Wales open World Cup campaign with six-try win over Georgia

Wales’ George North scores their sixth try against Georgia. (Reuters)
Updated 24 September 2019

Wales open World Cup campaign with six-try win over Georgia

TOYOTA CITY: Six Nations champions Wales opened their Rugby World Cup campaign with a bonus-point 43-14 victory over Georgia in Toyota City on Monday.

The victory not only sent out a signal of intent to main Pool D rivals Australia, who beat Fiji in their opener, but also dispelled any doubts there might have been of a hangover in the Welsh camp over the sending home of assistant coach Rob Howley amid allegations of illegal betting.

Four slick first-half tries from Jonathan Davies, Justin Tipuric, Josh Adams and Liam Williams ensured the bonus point for Wales, who were given a stern examination by a strong Georgian scrum that came to life in the seond period.

“It was a good first half for us and we were pretty happy at halftime,” said Wales coach Warren Gatland.

“A little bit messy in the second half but the ball was quite slippery out there and it was hard to hold on to it. We scored a few nice tries and we’re happy with the bonus point.”

There were barely two minutes on the clock when center Davies was played in under the posts after a rocket of a pass by scrum-half and namesake Gareth, decoys Dan Biggar and Hadleigh Parkes bamboozling a leaden-footed defense.

Biggar’s conversion surprisingly came back off the posts, but the fly-half redeemed himself with a penalty shortly afterwards.

Another well-drilled midfield move saw winger Adams split the defense before offloading to Gareth Davies. The scrum-half was brought down short, but Tipuric was on hand to swoop for the ball and sidestep inside Giorgi Tkhilaishvili to run through unmolested for Wales’ second try, Biggar converting.

The third came soon after, Adams running in from almost halfway after an inside Biggar pass off a lineout, with the Georgian defense glaringly absent.

Biggar hit the extras and it was a point a minute after 22 minutes, the 35,545-strong crowd at a sultry City of Toyota Stadium scenting a rout.

The sole bright spark for Georgia in a grim first-half display saw a rare break into Welsh territory by hooker Shalva Mamukashvili, Gareth Davies twice on hand with tapdowns to halt the foray.

Skipper Alun Wyn Jones, matching Gethin Jenkins’ record of 129 Wales caps, and No 8 Josh Navidi were at the heart of the effective Welsh rush defense to nullify the threat from the “Lelos.” 

And it was instead Wales who had the last word of the first 40 minutes, Liam Williams scooping up Jonathan Davies’ pass to dot down in the corner, Biggar making no mistake to stretch the score out to 29-0.

The Georgians opened the second half exactly as coach Milton Haig would have liked them, hooker Mamukashvili bundled over from an attacking lineout for a well-received try that Tedo Abzhandadze converted.

Wales roared back with their own driving maul, but fresh-on-the-field Jaba Bregvadze manipulated it to a juddering halt, his dark art spotted by referee Luke Pearce who had no option but to yellow card to the replacement hooker.

A raft of replacements disrupted the flow of the game, enabling Georgia to weather the 10-minute sin-binning without conceding any points.

Despite their far more combative half, it was replacement scrum-half Tomos Williams who chased down a George North grubber for Wales’ fifth.

Toulon prop Levan Chilachava responded Georgia when he bombed over from short range, but Wales had the last word when North finished well after some neat footwork and an offload from Tomos Williams.

“I think we came out of the box as we went out into the first half but I’m disappointed if I’m honest with the second half,” said Jones.

“We let a couple of tries in and we didn’t really continue in a similar vein. It’s a good result but it’s plenty to work on.


Test cricket to return to Pakistan with Sri Lanka’s visit

Updated 14 November 2019

Test cricket to return to Pakistan with Sri Lanka’s visit

  • Sri Lanka will play a two-match series at Rawalpindi and Karachi next month
  • The series is part of ICC’s World Test Championship

ISLAMABAD: Test cricket is set to return to Pakistan after more than 10 years when Sri Lanka plays a two-match series at Rawalpindi and Karachi next month.
Sri Lanka was the last team to play a test match in Pakistan in March 2009, when the team’s bus came under attack at Lahore. Eight people were killed during the terror attack, and several Sri Lankan players were injured.
All incoming tours were canceled after the attack and Pakistan later lost its status as a co-host for the 2011 Cricket World Cup.
The Pakistan Cricket Board on Thursday said Sri Lanka Cricket had confirmed next month’s tour would go ahead, based on the successful staging of a series of one-day and Twenty20 internationals at Karachi and Lahore in September and October.
Sri Lanka was originally scheduled to play the test series last month and then return to Pakistan for a limited-overs series in December. However, the tours were swapped so that Sri Lanka officials could assess the security situation in Pakistan before deciding on the test venues.
Rawalpindi is now scheduled to host the first test from Dec. 11-15, and the second test will be played at Karachi from Dec. 19-23. The series is part of ICC’s World Test Championship.
Zakir Khan, the PCB’s director of operations, said that the confirmation of next month’s test matches reflected confidence in Pakistan’s safety situation.
“This series is part of our cricket celebrations and we will leave no stone unturned in putting up a show which is a memorable one for the players, officials, fans and media,” Khan said.
Several top Sri Lanka players withdrew from the limited-overs series in Pakistan because of security concerns. Sri Lanka lost the ODI series 2-0 after the first game was washed out, but it’s second-string team sprung a huge surprise when it swept Pakistan 3-0 in the Twenty20 series at Lahore.
The SLC said it was satisfied with the visit and the high-level security provided for the team.
Sri Lanka Cricket chief executive Ashley de Silva said he believed cricket’s member nations should host their home matches in their own countries.
“We believe all cricket playing countries should host international cricket at home and in this relation we are happy to play our part in complete resumption of international cricket in Pakistan, which not only has a proud history but has been one of our biggest supporters in our early days as a cricket nation,” he said.
“We drew our opening World Test Championship series against New Zealand, and I anticipate, like in the past, these two tests will be exciting and competitive, and the fans will thoroughly enjoy the quality of cricket that will be on display.”
Pakistan has hosted its home games at neutral venues in the United Arab Emirates and in England during the last decade. The Pakistan team will play two test matches in Australia before returning for the series against Sri Lanka.