Scotland v Georgia

Scotland recorded a workmanlike highest ever victory over Georgia as the national team returned to action at BT Murrayfield tonight.

A late flurry of tries saw Gregor Townsend’s team post a comfortable win, as they now look towards the concluding chapter of the 2020 GUINNESS Six Nations, which had shaped so promisingly earlier this year.

Wales in Llanelli next Saturday is that final hurdle before the Autumn Nations Cup kicks off next month, with France and Fiji visiting Edinburgh.

A lot has happened in the 229 days since BT Murrayfield was last graced with international rugby and Scotland’s win against France. Coronavirus and its restrictions meant tonight’s match was played behind closed doors but the players and support staff tried to bring energy to the occasion, off the pitch as well as on.

And it was Hamish Watson with his vast reserves of energy and captain Fraser Brown who gave the lead in that regard.

Tribute was paid immediately pre-match to all those affected by coronavirus and to NHS, social care staff and frontline workers for their ongoing dedication. There was also an affirmation of rugby’s united stand against racism and discrimination in all forms.

Blair Kinghorn kicked off for Scotland towards the north end and there was a sequence of sharp recycling before the Georgians were penalised in the shadow of their own posts. Ali Price opted for the quick tap and ball was transferred right where, after another infringement, Darcy Graham pounced for the opening try. It was his sixth for Scotland and third in successive games against Georgia. Adam Hastings converted off the upright. (7-0, 3 mins)

Psychologically, Scotland inflicted a blow to Georgian pride, winning a penalty at the first scrum on half-way, but a breakdown penalty to the visitors stemmed a Scotland attack on the edge of their 22.

New cap Duhan Van Der Merwe had little space to initiate anything when he received a pass in the 12th minute and he was involved in a thunderous collision moments later before the shrill blast of Mr Ruiz’s whistle signalled another breakdown penalty, this time to Scotland.

Van Der Merwe then intruded off his wing and Scott Cummings ran a sumptuous line to set up more quick ball for Scotland but Kinghorn was clawed down when the pass to his left seemed the better option and Scotland had to scramble as Georgia threatened a breakaway.

Chris Harris spilled a well-crafted kick ahead as Scotland pressed for their second try and a side entry penalty against Georgian tight-head, Lekso Kaulashvili, enabled the hosts to attack off a short-range lineout.

Cummings caught and with additional poundage being provided by backs, Fraser Brown got the touchdown to mark his captaincy with his fourth international try. Hastings’ conversion struck the upright again, but this time, there was no “in off” (12-0, 27 mins).

Another thumping lineout drive, with Brown again calling the shots, was halted but Scotland were patient and eventually ball was worked left for Hamish Watson to cross for the try. It was the flanker’s fourth for his country, a sequence he had opened at Rugby Park, Kilmarnock against Georgia, four years ago.Hastings missed the conversion (17-0, 31 mins).

On the stroke of half-time Cornell du Preez – a substitute for Matt Fagerson – appeared to have wormed his way over for a try, but after consultation with the TMO, the score was ruled out.

Half-time: Scotland 17 Georgia 0

Georgia had posed precious little threat in attack in the first-half but a fumble under a high kick from Hastings saw Georgia gain a foothold in the home 22, from which right wing Akaki Tabutsadze forced his way over. Tedo Abzhandadze converted (17-7, 44 mins).

Scotland responded with numerous pick and goes and Georgia infringed before from another lineout take by Cummings, the hosts drove in exemplary fashion for Brown to claim his second try of the night. Hastings again hit the woodwork without success (22-7, 50 mins).

Scotland made four substitutions on the 54th minute, which saw Oli Kebble win his first cap and Finn Russell become the 44th Scot to reach 50 caps.Russell slotted in in his customary stand-off role, with Hastings moving to inside centre. Jamie Ritchie took on the captaincy.

Forward drive had proved a profitable source of points for Scotland and Stuart McInally marked his introduction to round off another purposeful surge with Scotland’s fifth try. Adam Hastings converted (29-7, 63 mins).

Scotland shaped for a big finished and Van Der Merwe bruised up the middle for try number six, Hastings converted (36-7) and then substitute George Horne’s typically quick-witted pass saw Darcy Graham complete his brace for Scotland’s seventh try.Hastings missed the conversion (41-7, 74 mins).

Kinghorn was released by a terrific pass from Russell and latched on to a bouncing ball for try number eight.Hastings goaled (48-7, 79 mins) and it was job done for Scotland.

Full Time 48 - 7

Scotland: Blair Kinghorn; Darcy Graham (both Edinburgh Rugby); Chris Harris (Gloucester), James Lang (NEC Harlequins), Duhan Van Der Merwe (Edinburgh Rugby); Adam Hastings, Ali Price (both Glasgow Warriors); Rory Sutherland (Edinburgh Rugby), Fraser Brown (Glasgow Warriors) CAPTAIN, Zander Fagerson (Glasgow Warriors), Ben Toolis (Edinburgh Rugby), Scott Cummings (Glasgow Warriors), Jamie Ritchie, Hamish Watson (both Edinburgh Rugby), Matt Fagerson (Glasgow Warriors).

Subs: Stuart McInally (Edinburgh Rugby) for Brown (54 mins), Oli Kebble (Glasgow Warriors) for Sutherland (54 mins), Simon Berghan (Edinburgh Rugby) for Zander Fagerson (44 mins), Rob Harley (Glasgow Warriors) for Cummings (70 mins), Nick Haining (Edinburgh Rugby) for Watson (65 mins), Cornell du Preez (Worcester Warriors) for Matt Fagerson (37 mins), George Horne (Glasgow Warriors) for Price (65 mins), Finn Russell (Racing 92) for Lang (54 mins)

Georgia: Joseb Matiashvili; Akaki Tabutsadze, Demur Tapladze, Merab Sharakadze CAPTAIN, Aleksandre Todua; Tedo Abzhandadze, Vasil Lobzhanidze; Mikheil Nariashvili, Jaba Bregvadze, Lekso Kaulashvili, Nodar Cheishvili, Grigor Kerdirkoshvili, Otar Giorgadze, Beka Saginadze, Beka Gorgadze.

Subs: Shalva Mamukashvili for Bregvadze (48mins), Guram Gogichashvili for Nariashvili, (55 mins) , Giorgi Melikidze for Kaulashvili (40 mins), Gorgi Javakhia for Cheishvili, (69 mins), Giorgi Tkhilaishvili for Giorgadze (55 mins), Gela Aprasidze for Lobzhanidze (59 mins), Giorgi Kveseladze, for Sharakadze (57 mins) Tamaz Mchedlidze for Aleksandre Todua (76 mins) .

Yellow card: Gela Aprasidze (71 mins)

Tennent’s Light Man of the Match: Hamish Watson (Scotland).

Referee: Alexandre Ruiz (France). Assistant referees: Mathieu Reynal (France) and Ben Whitehouse (Wales).TMO: Marius Mitrea (Italy).

live commentary 7:30 PM Friday 23 Oct 2020

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