Wallabies overcome tough Georgia ahead of World Cup knockouts

Australia's Taniela Tupou runs at the Georgian defence during the Rugby World Cup Pool D game at Shizuoka Stadium Ecopa in Shizuoka, Japan, Friday, Oct.11, 2019. (AP)
Updated 12 October 2019

Wallabies overcome tough Georgia ahead of World Cup knockouts

SHIZUOKA, JAPAN: Australia fine-tuned preparations for a likely Rugby World Cup quarter-final against England with a hard-fought, error-strewn 27-8 Pool D victory over Georgia at Shizuoka on Friday.

Wales’ 27-19 win over Fiji on Wednesday had guaranteed the Wallabies a place in the last eight, with the Welsh playing minnows Uruguay on Sunday in a match that should see them book the pool winners’ spot.

In blustery conditions and heavy rain as Typhoon Hagibis headed for landfall on Japan’s east coast, Australia were forced into a real arm wrestle by the hard-hitting Georgians in the two countries’ first-ever Test match.

The Wallabies dominated possession and territory early on, and successfully pitted their set piece against one of the strongest at the World Cup.

But the Georgians put in a mean defensive shift and kept in the game by seizing on a catalog of basic handling errors by their Tier One opponents.

A tight opening quarter saw play see-saw between the two 22m areas, David Pocock and Jack Dempsey trading tough tackles with back-row rivals Mamuka Gorgodze and Beka Gorgadze.

Veteran center Davit Kacharava, extending the Georgian Test cap record to 119, took it one step too far, however, miraculously escaping a yellow card from French referee Pascal Gauzere after crashing his elbow into the face of a prone Kurtley Beale.

The fleet-footed full-back received medical attention before leaving the pitch for a head injury assessment, never to return to the paddock at Shizuoka’s Ecopa Stadium.

The Georgians repelled wave after wave of attack, notching up almost 80 tackles in the first 20 minutes.

But an initial break by Matt Toomua set up another Wallaby attacking platform and Georgia eventually wilted, scrum-half Nic White burrowing past Mikheil Nariashvili from close range for a try Toomua converted.


Police want Liverpool title decider in neutral stadium

Updated 50 min 13 sec ago

Police want Liverpool title decider in neutral stadium

  • The move aims to prevent fans from gathering outside when the competition resumes

MANCHESTER, England: Liverpool might not win the English Premier League at Anfield after police included the leader’s key games among at least five it wants at neutral venues in a bid to prevent fans from gathering outside when the competition resumes.
Liverpool manager Jürgen Klopp hopes authorities will allow them to play at home as planned, with supporters adhering to advice while they are prevented from attending games due to COVID-19 restrictions.
Police originally wanted neutral venues for all 92 remaining games but the plan was opposed by the clubs — particularly those trying to avoid relegation.
The league plans to resume on June 17 after a 100-day shutdown to contain the coronavirus pandemic, pending final approval from government, which is trying to prevent a second spike in cases.
Police don’t object to the games on that Wednesday night being played at Manchester City and Aston Villa.
But police want the derby between Everton and Liverpool to be played away from Merseyside a few days later. The game was originally scheduled at Goodison Park. Liverpool, which leads by 25 points with nine games remaining, could clinch the title by beating Everton if second-placed City loses to Arsenal on June 17.
If the 30-year title drought doesn’t end that day, police want Liverpool’s next game, against Crystal Palace, to be played away from Anfield.
Greater Manchester Police have already determined Liverpool’s third game back against Manchester City should be staged away from Etihad Stadium.
Liverpool’s fourth game back is against Aston Villa, currently scheduled at Anfield.
The same Manchester force wants City’s game against Newcastle and Manchester United’s home game against Sheffield United played outside of the northwest location.
Police in Newcastle also don’t want the home game against Liverpool to be played at St. James’ Park on the final day of the season, which could be July 26.
Mark Roberts, the head of football policing in England, said the plans will remain under review but are based on public health demands.
“We have reached a consensus that balances the needs of football, while also minimizing the demand on policing,” said Roberts, the football policing lead at the National Police Chiefs’ Council. “The views and agreement of forces which host Premier League clubs have been sought and where there were concerns, the Premier League has been supportive in providing flexibility in arranging alternative venues where requested.”
One obvious neutral venue is Wembley Stadium in north London which is not the home of any club side.
“This plan will be kept continually under review to ensure public health and safety and a key part of this is for supporters to continue to respect the social distancing guidelines, and not to attend or gather outside the stadiums,” Roberts said.
Even without a vaccine for COVID-19, fans could return to games next season, which is due to begin in September.
“There is optimism at the Premier League and at clubs that we will see fans back in the stadiums next season,” Premier League chief executive Richard Masters told Sky Sports TV, “and it may happen on a phased basis.”
Only 200 of the 380 Premier League games each season are contracted to be broadcast live in Britain, but all remaining fixtures will be aired live because fans will not be allowed in stadiums.
The reshaped English season is set to end with the FA Cup final on Aug. 1.
The Football Association on Friday announced its competition will provisionally resume with the quarterfinals on the weekend of June 27-28. The semifinals are now scheduled for July 18-19.
“This has been a difficult period for many people and, while this is a positive step, the restart date is dependent on all safety measures being met,” FA chief executive Mark Bullingham said.
Though the COVID-19 deaths per day have fallen in Britain since early April, another 377 were still reported on Thursday, bringing the known death toll in all settings including hospitals and care homes to 37,837.