Australia 27-8 Georgia: Wallabies finish Rugby World Cup Pool D with victory
Wallabies highly likely to face England in Oita on Saturday, October 19 in the Rugby World Cup quarter-finals
By Michael Cantillon
Last Updated: 11/10/19 4:06pm
Australia completed their Rugby World Cup Pool D schedule with an unimpressive 27-8 victory over Georgia on Friday, grinding out the win in rain-sodden conditions in Shizuoka.
Nic White notched the only first-half try for the Wallabies past a strong Georgia defensive effort, with out-half Matt Toomua adding the only other points of the first period via a penalty.
Marika Koroibete scored a sensational second-half effort on the hour mark to give Australia breathing space, but Georgia responded into the final 10 minutes as Alexander Todua sprinted up the left wing to score after a Lasha Khmaladze break.
Australia back-row Jack Dempsey rubber-stamped the victory with five minutes remaining, however, when he scored off the back of a maul drive and Will Genia added undue gloss to the scoreline when he dived over in the final minute.
Australia will now in all likelihood face England in the quarter-finals in Oita on Saturday, October 19 - with England having come off the back of a 14-day rest due to the unprecedented cancellation of their Pool B clash with France on Saturday.
The start to the game was tight and compelling as Australia dominated territory - enjoying 84 per cent of it in the first quarter - but the Georgia defence was tireless and resolute in keeping the Wallabies out.
It was not until the 23rd minute that the first points of the Test arrived as scrum-half White stooped low beneath Georgia loosehead Mikheil Nariashvili and hooker Shalva Mamukashvili to score a try from close range after an exhaustive 17 phase attack.
A Tolu Latu high tackle allowed Georgia onto the scoreboard within five minutes, though, as full-back Soso Matiashvili slotted a penalty from close range through the uprights.
Three Georgia penalties - one at the scrum, one for a tackle off the ball and one for side entry at the maul - presented Australia a five-metre attacking lineout thereafter when kicking to touch but the move was ended when Australia No 8 Isi Naisarani was sin-binned after a TMO review.
The Fiji-born forward was perhaps fortunate to avoid a red card based on replays, after he made contact with the face of second row Giorgi Nemsadze in a ruck clearout.
The Wallabies would score the next points when down to 14, however, as Toomua dispatched a penalty two minutes from the break after Georgia flanker Beka Saghinadze played Australia scrum-half White.
The Lelos probed and attacked within and around the Wallabies 22 as the half came to a close, but knock-ons and errors in the wet conditions ended any chance to add to the scoring.
When Naisarani returned to the fray into the second half after his yellow card, Australia had conceded no further points as Georgia failed to take advantage of centre David Kacharava's line-break into the Wallabies 22.
The next points of the contest did not arrive until just into the final quarter as wing Koroibete notched a stunning individual effort from halfway, slicing through the Georgia defensive line before stepping past full-back Matiashvili and then checking inside wing Todua to race over and score.
Georgia would score next with nine minutes left as out-half Khmaladze made a fabulous break through the Wallabies line on turnover ball before releasing Georgia left wing Todua with a perfect pass to the flank for the latter to romp away and clear.
Wallabies flanker Dempsey grounded on the Georgia try-line after a powerful maul drive minutes later in response, and there still proved time for one last try.
Into the final moments of the match, Australia lock Rob Simmons made a break and offload on the occasion of his 100th Test to rampaging prop Taniela Tupou, who then offloaded to replacement Genia for an easy run-in.
The score was significant for the highly experienced half-back as it racked up 100 points for him in an Australia jersey, while it proved harsh on Georgia and left the scoreline as an unfair reflection of the balance of the game.