Ireland are shocked as Tedo Abzhandadze inspired Georgia to a 24-20 victory over Ireland a match day three of the World Rugby U20 Championship 2018.

That leaves Ireland fighting for 9th place in the knock out stage.

A tentative start from Ireland was punished when Arsen Machaladze crossed to give the Georgians a 7-0 lead. Conor Dean knocked over a 45m penalty four minutes later to get his side on the board however this was cancelled out by a penalty from Gela Aprasidze.

The early battles went in Georgia’s favour which gave them the confidence to throw the ball wide and while they suffered a yellow card to Sandro Mamtavrishvili after 19 minutes their confidence remained firm. Sandro Svanidze raced clear after intercepting a James Hume pass to score his side’s second try after 22 minutes.

Ball retention was a problem for Ireland while Georgia’s expansive rugby always kept Noel McNamara’s men on the back foot. After conceding successive penalties Ireland found themselves on the Georgian 22. Despite a strong Georgian resistance, carries from Diarmuid Barron and Caelan Doris fashioned an overlap down the right flank for Conor Dean to finish in the corner.

Despite a positive start in the second half, Georgia capitalized on more poor retention from Ireland at the break down. Demur Tapladze broke down the right and perfectly weighted a kick into the centre of the pitch for Tedo Abzhandadze to control and then dot down for a 24-8 lead.

Ireland heads dropped after the try and Georgian dominance at the scrum became apparent with impressive performances from Guram Gogichashvili and Luka Japaridze in the front row. As the clock ticked down, Georgia dictated the pace of the game and Ireland struggled to break them down.

The majority of the half was played in Georgian territory but a strong defence repelled any Irish attack. Jonny Stewart crossed with ten minutes to go after a set play at the lineout but replays showed a forward pass from Doris to Stewart which ruled the try out and Ireland’s chances in the match were all but over.

Cormac Daly scored a consolation try four minutes from the end before Bryan O’Connor scored to leave the final tally 24-20 in the Georgian’s favour.

Speaking after the game, Ballymena back row forward Matthew Agnew said:

“We need to start matches better than we have been doing but credit must go to Georgia who started much better than us. They put us under a lot of pressure in the opening quarter.

“We conceded break away tries as a result of switching off and this has been our downfall in the tournament.

“They scored after the break and it took us a long time after that to respond.

“It [the last ten minutes]definitely showed how much we cared as a team. It was disappointing but we had pride I don’t think we disgraced the jersey in any way.”

Picture credit – Beth Cregan.

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