Scotland 43-16 Georgia: Stuart Hogg scores twice in Rugby Park win
By PA Sport
Last Updated: 26/11/16 5:07pm
Scotland ran in six tries as they rounded off their autumn series with a crushing 43-16 win over Georgia at Rugby Park.
In their last match before kicking off their Six Nations campaign at home to Ireland on February 4, the Scots were keen to use the clash in Kilmarnock to build confidence.
And there was more than a hit of swagger to their stride as Stuart Hogg helped himself to a brace on top of a penalty try and additional scores from Tommy Seymour, Sean Maitland and Hamish Watson, leaving Georgia scrum-half Vasil Lobzhanidze's double to count for nothing.
The Georgians' muscular pack have built up a formidable reputation in recent months with victories over Tonga, Fiji and Samoa.
And another display of their forwards gave them a flying start as the visitors claimed a surprise lead after five minutes.
From a lineout, the Lelos inched their way forward before scrum-half Lobzhanidze caught the Scots napping as he nipped down the blindside before beating Seymour and Greig Laidlaw to the line. However, Merab Kvirikashvili missed the conversion.
But as was the case when the Dark Blues fell behind against Argentina, they refused to panic and hit back within three minutes.
Vern Cotter's men decided speed was the best way to nullify their opponents' main weapon on the Ayrshire venue's plastic pitch and moved the ball quickly through the hands as Ryan Wilson fed to Hogg in the wide right channel.
The full-back had Seymour outside him and he did not need a second invitation as he raced on to catch his team-mates' well-measured kick, getting his fingertips to apply the necessary downward pressure before Lobzhanidze could prevent him scoring. Laidlaw did the necessary with the conversion.
With quarter of an hour gone, Scotland's pack decided to test themselves up against their heavyweight opponents and found they were more than a match. They got the maul rumbling from a lineout and with Ross Ford destined for a roll-over touchdown, Konstantine Mikautadze hauled the contest down.
The Georgia flanker's illegal intervention was spotted by English referee Matthew Carley, however, who dished out a penalty try and yellow card to the culprit.
Laidlaw converted and while a Kvirikashvili penalty briefly trimmed the Scots' lead back to six points, the deficit was soon on the increase as Scotland upped their pressure.
Maitland found himself held up a yard shy of the line after Alex Dunbar threw him a pass with too much loft and too little haste. But Laidlaw measured his pass with more precision moments later to set up the Saracens winger to dance over after 20 minutes.
Laidlaw again struck over the extras before he traded penalties with Kvirikashvili.
Hogg, as ever, was keen to get in on the scoring act and produced a moment of magic to grab the fourth try after 34 minutes. Collecting a Russell pass on halfway, he spotted the Georgians had let their line speed dwindle and clipped a ball over the top.
The ball seemed destined to land for the visitors' Alexander Todua but when the bounce leapt into Hogg's grasp there was simply no catching him as he raced home, leaving Laidlaw to add the conversion which sent the Scots in with a 20-point interval lead.
And the gap was widened further just two minutes into the second period as Richie Gray palmed a lineout down to Watson, who made it look easy as he scampered round the side to score. Again Laidlaw's kicking was perfect as he added another conversion.
The Scots took their foot off the gas for a period and that gave Lobzhanidze the chance to score his second try after 55 minutes as the Georgian pack did what they do best from a lineout charge. Kvirikashvili again wasted the conversion.
Having produced some of their slickest rugby in recent memory in the opening 40 minutes, the Scots' second-half display soon ground to a halt.
They were testing Carley's patience as they resorted to a number of scrappy fouls in order to contain the Georgians.
The official eventually had enough seven minutes from the end when he flashed yellow at substitute prop Moray Low after one infraction around the maul too many.
Glasgow scrum-half Ali Price, who failed to see a single minute of action against Australia and Argentina during the Dark Blues' two previous internationals, was finally thrown on with seven minutes remaining.
And he set in motion the move which provided one last moment of joy for the 15,400-strong crowd with three minutes left.
Rory Hughes was released down the left, with the Glasgow wing unselfishly playing in Hogg to touch down the final try. Finn Russell took over the kicking duties but pushed his attempt at the extras wide.