Wales 12-13 Georgia: Los Lelos pick up historic Test victory at the Principality Stadium in Cardiff
Wales suffer an embarrassing defeat as unfancied Georgia claimed a famous 13-12 Autumn Nations Series victory at the Principality Stadium; The countries clash again at next year's World Cup in France, which is an encounter Georgia will now not fear in any shape or form
Last Updated: 19/11/22 7:42pm
Georgia picked up a historic Test victory over Wales at the Principality Stadium in Cardiff, as 21-year-old Luka Matkava kicked the winning penalty with two minutes to go.
A pair of tries from flanker Jac Morgan, only one of which was converted by Rhys Priestland, was all Wales could muster, as the hosts also lost wing Alex Cuthbert to a sin-binning and failed to score a point in the second half.
Wales 12-13 Georgia - Score summary
Wales - Tries: Morgan (20, 24). Cons: Priestland (21). Yellow card: Cuthbert (51)
Georgia - Tries: Todua (59). Cons: Abzhandadze (60). Pens: Abzhandadze (3), Matkava (78).
Indeed, Georgia fly-half Tedo Abzhandadze missed a penalty chance for the lead with 15 minutes to go, after wing Alexander Todua - on the occasion of his 100th cap, scored to reduce the Wales lead to just two points.
The Georgian scrum overtook the remainder of the contest, though, producing one final penalty chance to claim a dramatic, historic and thoroughly deserved victory.
Josh Macleod (No 8), Josh Adams (wing), Owen Watkin (centre), Rhys Priestland (out-half), Ben Carter (second row), Jac Morgan (flanker) all came in to start vs Georgia as Wales head coach Wayne Pivac made six changes to the side which beat Argentina. Scarlets back-row Macleod made his Test debut. Leigh Halfpenny returned from injury to start among replacements
For Georgia, wing Alexander Todua started for his 100th cap, while Nodar Cheishvili and Konstantin Mikautadze comprised an experienced second row. Inside-centre Merab Sharikadze captained the side. Lyon back Davit Niniashvili started at full-back, while Pau back-row Beka Gorgadze was at openside flanker.
It was one of the greatest upsets in international rugby union history, and will inevitably pile pressure on Wales boss Wayne Pivac building towards next weekend's autumn finale against Australia.
Scarlets back-row forward Josh Macleod made his Wales debut, packing down at number eight, while other changes from the team that beat Argentina last weekend included starts for Rhys Priestland, wing Josh Adams and lock Ben Carter.
Abzhandadze kicked Georgia into a second-minute lead, before full-back Davit Niniashvili sparked a thrilling counter-attack as the visitors settled impressively.
Wales were slow out of the blocks in comparison, but they began to exert pressure inside Georgia's 22, with wing Alex Cuthbert going close following two lineout drives that were defended well by the visitors.
But Wales pounced in the 20th minute after lock Adam Beard won line-out ball and flanker Morgan surged over for a try that Priestland converted, making it 7-3.
Morgan struck again just three minutes later when he collected scrum-half Tomos Williams' pass, building impressively on his outstanding display against Argentina after going on as a first-half replacement.
Wales thought they had scored again eight minutes before the break when Adams finished impressively after a kick and chase, but Williams' pass to him was ruled forward.
It was a let-off for Georgia, and they accrued no further damage on the scoreboard as Wales led 12-3 at half-time.
Wales were temporarily reduced to 14 men when Cuthbert received a yellow card from referee Andrea Piardi following an aerial collision that saw Todua fall awkwardly.
Macleod then made way, with Taulupe Faletau taking over from him and making his 99th Test-match appearance for Wales and the British and Irish Lions.
Georgia dominated the third quarter, capitalising on aimless kicking from Wales, and scrum-half Vasil Lobzhanidze went close to a try that was thwarted by strong defensive work from Adams.
Wales were predictable, lacking creativity, and Georgia seemed to thrive on that.
And they cut the deficit to just two points midway through the half when Todua collected a well-placed kick and crossed unopposed, with Abzhandadze's conversion making it 12-10.
Abzhandadze had a chance to put Georgia ahead, but he drifted an angled penalty attempt wide and Wales escaped.
Faletau made a considerable impact, and he looked to have created a hat-trick try for Morgan, only for the Cardiff No 8 to knock on during approach play.
The final few minutes were inevitably tense, especially from a Welsh perspective, and Matkava put Georgia in dreamland with his long-range penalty.
Georgia's players celebrated wildly, and they held on to win, claiming the greatest victory in their rugby history, beating Wales for the first time and leaving their hosts crestfallen.
'We let ourselves down,' says Wales captain Tipuric
Pivac straight-batted questions about his future after his side's humiliation at the hands of Georgia, which means they've now won just three of 11 games this year.
"I will be here rolling the sleeves up from tomorrow morning, and we will formulate a plan for the week," the Wales coach said after the game.
"We are here to do a job, we are totally focused on building towards the World Cup. This is clearly a setback, and we are not proud of that result."
Asked if he felt his position would now be under threat, Pivac added: "Again, that is a question for other people, I would guess.
"We've done it (turned things around) before. Unfortunately, we've had to do it one time too many from my point of view. It is not a nice place to be.
"Seven days is a long time in rugby, and we will look at it all, including pulling the game to bits. We have to make sure we get the performance we are all happy with and proud of in seven days' time."
Wales conclude their autumn schedule against Australia next weekend, and Pivac said: "We will review everything, and we will leave no stone unturned in the review process.
"Every time you lose a game, it leaves a scar. Next week is no different. We need a big week and a very strong performance."
Wales captain Justin Tipuric said: "You can speak out there as much as you want, but unless the reactions happen - which they didn't today - then you are going to be on the back foot.
"In rugby, there are ups and downs. This is definitely a down moment. We have to stick together. On our day, we are a quality side, so we have to go out firing next week.
"It is tough to be the first Welsh team to lose to Georgia. Unfortunately, you have those tough days in your career, and now it is all about how we react.
"We obviously planned to finish this autumn strongly and get momentum after beating Argentina. Unfortunately, we didn't do that today.
"We let ourselves down, and it is a disappointed changing room."
Pivac's Wales next host Australia at the Principality Stadium on Saturday, November 26, in a 3.15pm (GMT) kick-off for the last of their four autumn internationals this Test window.
Wales' Autumn Internationals
|Saturday, November 5||Wales 23-55 New Zealand||3.15pm|
|Saturday, November 12||Wales 20-13 Argentina||5.30pm|
|Saturday, November 19||Wales 12-13 Georgia||1pm|
|Saturday, November 26||Wales vs Australia||3.15pm|
Levan Maisashvili's Georgia had only one Test arranged in the northern hemisphere this autumn, and so victory over Wales rounds off their schedule.