U20 | Scotland 31-39 Georgia
Scotland’s 2018 World Rugby U20 Championship campaign ended in defeat as they succumbed to a powerful Georgian outfit in this afternoon’s 9th place play-off.
Although Scotland led 19-12 at the break following a first-half brace from winger Logan Trotter, Georgia scored 24 unanswered second-half points which ultimately proved to be insurmountable.
Scotland did score two late tries to close the gap to just five-points, however, when Georgian stand-off Tedo Abzhandadze slotted home a last-gasp penalty, he provided the coup de grace which meant Bryan Redpath’s young side finish the tournament in 10th place.
Scotland captain, Stafford McDowall, was left frustrated following the full-time whistle but was adamant that future is bright for the age-grade outfit.
“I think with 20 minutes to go, a lot of people would have thought we were just going to fade out of the match, but I think it shows the character of this team to comeback and score two score tries, but unfortunately we fell just short in the end,” said McDowall.
“I think we’ve picked up a lot of experience throughout the tournament and I’ve got no doubt that the younger players will take those learnings into next year’s championship.
“A lot of the guys in the squad will no doubt go onto bigger and better things and It’s been a real pleasure playing with them.”
Georgia took the lead after only four minutes as tight-head prop Luka Japaridze added the finishing touches to a clinical lineout drive. The impressive Georgian pack rumbled over from 15 metres out and Japaridze was on hand to dot down.
Scotland answered immediately, however, and it was through Scotland’s front-eight that the equalizing score arrived. After a securing a lineout on Georgia’s five-metre line, the age-grade side committed 12 men to a potent rolling maul and with Robbie Smith guiding the ball over the whitewash, Scotland were on the board.
Both sides would lose a man when Guy Graham and Gela Aprasidze were sent to the bin following a bust-up in midfield, but it was Scotland who would eventually take the lead.
With the ball just shy of Georgia’s twenty-two, Logan Trotter switched on the afterburners after showing sumptuous footwork, and as the winger cruised under the sticks, Scotland held a deserved lead.
After Winger Kote Marjanishvili touched down in the corner to tie the encounter, the Georgians had Scotland backpedaling on their own try-line, however, Trotter popped up once again to prove his weight in gold.
As Georgia looked to be in for their third try of the afternoon, the winger brilliantly intercepted on his own five-metre-line before going coast-to-coast for the unlikely score. As Chapman chipped over the conversion, Scotland held led 19-12 at the break.
However, with the wind on their backs, Georgia came out the blocks flying and immediately set about putting Scotland to the sword.
Tengiz Gigolashvili firstly pounced on a loose Scottish lineout to level proceedings, before replacement loose-head Guram Gogichavili rumbled over for Georgia’s fourth try of the contest.
A few phases later Marjanishvili scuttled down the right wing to snatch his second and his team’s fifth try of the encounter, with 15 minutes still to go.
Scotland appeared to have capitulated, however, when winger Kyle Rowe danced his way over the line with ten minutes remaining, the young Scots were handed a lifeline.
With Arsen Machaladze in the sin-bin for a high tackle, replacement flanker James Miller got the ball down from a close-range line-out drive and replacement stand-off Ross Thompson nailed the conversion, which made it a five-point game.
However, as Abzhandadze coolly sent home a penalty to secure the win in the 79th minute, Scotland’s hopes of a dramatic comeback victory were all but dead in the water.