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.


Poised for leap before pandemic, women’s cricket limps into future

Updated 12 min 43 sec ago

Poised for leap before pandemic, women’s cricket limps into future

  • While the final financial cost of the coronavirus shutdown will not be known for months, perhaps years, the early signs for women’s cricket are relatively positive

LONDON: Women’s cricket appeared poised for a great leap forward when Australia beat India in the Twenty20 World Cup final in front of a record 86,174 crowd at Melbourne Cricket Ground in March.

Less than three months since that heady night, though, it risks slipping back into the shadows cast by the men’s game after being grounded by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Cricket boards are staring at financial losses ranging from significant to severe as a result of the coronavirus shutdown and there is a danger the women’s game will bear the brunt of the cost-cutting.

“This is a concern across the game, and in particular in countries where there isn’t an agreed model in place ensuring gender equity principles are built into the game,” Tom Moffat, the CEO of the Federation of International Cricketers’ Associations (FICA), told Reuters.

“We are urging the ICC and the boards to continue to invest in sustainable foundations for the women’s game around the world.”

While the final financial cost of the coronavirus shutdown will not be known for months, perhaps years, the early signs for women’s cricket are relatively positive.

That does not mean there will be no pain, but it may not be overly inequitable compared to cuts the men’s game faces.

England’s centrally contracted women players volunteered a three-month pay cut and their board has put on hold plans to introduce 40 domestic contracts as part of its 20 million pounds ($24.72 million) investment in the women’s game.

Several uncontracted female cricketers have also been denied what was to be their only source of income after the launch of The Hundred competition was postponed to next year.

The England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) will pay up to 24 domestic players a regional retainer starting on June 1 as an interim solution.

“The momentum behind the women’s game has been staggering in the last few years and it is still firmly our ambition to build on that,” Clare Connor, the ECB’s managing director of women’s cricket, said earlier this month.

“While we still intend to award those full-time contracts in 2020, we want to try to support our players as much as we can until that point.”