Wales 43-14 Georgia: Warren Gatland's side open World Cup with bonus-point win
By Marc Bazeley
Last Updated: 23/09/19 4:37pm
Warren Gatland's final Rugby World Cup campaign with Wales got off to a winning start as they overcame a spirited Georgia 43-14 in Pool D on Monday.
Scores from Jonathan Davies, Justin Tipuric, Josh Adams and Liam Williams ensured Wales became the first team in this year's tournament to wrap up the try-scoring bonus point by half-time at the City of Toyota Stadium.
Georgia seemed a revived side after the break, despite having Jaba Bregvadze shown a yellow card early on, earning converted tries through Shalva Mamukashvilli and replacement Levan Chilachava.
But otherwise it was job done for Wales and head coach Gatland, who returns to his native New Zealand to take up a position with the Chiefs after this tournament, ahead of Sunday's showdown with Australia.
It was something of an inauspicious start for Georgia, knocking on from the kick-off and then conceding another scrum for the same reason when dislodging the ball from the arms of centre Davies while trying to tackle him.
It was from the second of these set-pieces the first try came with barely three minutes on the clock as Josh Navidi picked and passed from the base of the scrum, catching the defence flat-footed and sending Davies racing through a huge gap to score under the posts.
Dan Biggar saw his conversion attempt surprisingly hit the post, but the fly-half made no mistake from a penalty in the seventh minute after Georgia had strayed offside. To make matters worse, Soso Matiashvili then kicked the ball out on the full from the restart and the Lelos buckled at the resulting scrum to concede another penalty.
Another kick straight into by the full-back, this time in general play, allowed Wales the chance to lay the foundations for their second try. This time, Gareth Davies and Adams combined to open up the defence, followed by Tipuric picking and going from a ruck for a 14th-minute converted score.
Winger Adams went from provider to scorer five minutes later with a move from a line-out which saw half-backs Davies and Biggar link up to pick out Cardiff Blues' new signing for the 2019/20 PRO14 season to finish for another converted try.
Georgia showed some glimpses of their capability after this and enjoyed a long spell of pressure in Wales' 22, but that attack came to an end when Giorgi Kveseladze knocked on.
And right on the stroke of half time, Hadleigh Parkes and midfield partner Davies linked up to send full-back Williams in for Wales' fourth try and a 29-point lead at the break.
Georgia's determination to kick for touch and try to pressure at the line-out from penalties paid three minutes into the second half, however, as they got a powerful drive on which was finished by Mamukashvilli and converted by Tedo Abzhandadze.
Wales' forwards caused their opponents plenty of problems with their own mauling ability though, leading to replacement hooker Bregvadze being sin-binned for deliberately collapsing one just metres from his line.
Georgia survived that period though and were able to apply more pressure, but their resistance was eventually broken again in the 65th minute when George North put a kick infield from the right wing and replacement scrum-half Tomos Williams beat Otar Giorgadze in a foot-race to score.
Milton Haig's men were not done though and crossed again five minutes later when prop Chilachava forced his way over to mark his 50th cap for his country with a try, again converted by Abzhandadze.
Wales had the final say though, with North and Williams reversing roles for the Cardiff man to send the Ospreys winger jinking through the defence for their sixth try, followed by Leigh Halfpenny adding the extras.