Georgia recorded their second-ever Rugby World Cup, after defeating Pool B opponents Romania 25-9 at Palmerston North's Arena Manawatu tonight.
REVIEW: With neither team in danger of qualifying for the quarterfinals, or even finishing third and confirming their place at the next World Cup, the main interest was seeing if they could play.
Pitted against a foe of similar might, Japan and Canada had played out a thrilling draw in Napier, the previous evening. That was a match high on entertainment, leaving hopes high that Georgia and Romania might manage similar.
Well, 80 minutes later, the jury on both teams is still out.
Between themselves and merry-whistler Dave Pearson, everyone conspired to ensure that this was a match in which little or no rugby ended up being played.
The first half was a lamentable affair, dominated by stoppages and the refereeing of Pearson. You can find infringement everywhere, if you're looking for them, and Englishman Pearson obviously was.
Arena Manawatu doesn't get full too often. So having had to wait through 31 matches for the tournament to arrive in their fair city, the people of Palmerston North were desperate to finally become part of the action.
How disappointed they must have been to quickly discover that Pearson was intent on being the centre of attention.
Still neither side did a lot to help themselves.
Both kicked the ball with great relish but, strangely, couldn't catch it. The respective No 10s, Georgia's Merab Kvirikashvili and Marin Danut Dumbrava presumably do a lot of punting at training, but obviously not to a waiting team-mate.
That's the only conclusion you could draw, given the way the sight of a high ball seemed to produce panic in both team's back-threes.
Of the two first five-eights - and let's face it, they were the only players really in the game - Kvirikashvili was by far the better. He actually didn't look a bad footballer, although he was prone to just throw the ball anywhere at the first sign of contact.
But he did kick a perfect four-from-four in the first half, to give his team a deserved 12-6 advantage at halftime.
Georgian tighthead prop David Zirakashvili, of French club Clermont Auvergne, was the other player you'd rate as pretty handy. He had several carries as Georgia bashed and barged their way to the game's only try.
Flanker Mamuka Gorgodze was the player to finally plunge over, in the 56th minute. Kvirikashvili duly converted to push Georgia out to an unassailable-looking 19-6 lead.
Romania continued to try very hard. But despite the obvious might of their scrum, their efforts never really amounted to much.
Even at 22-6 down, with nine minutes left, the best idea Romania could muster when awarded a penalty inside Georgia's 22 was to kick for goal. That pretty much summed them and the game up.
Romania finish the tournament win-less while Georgia will be back at Arena Manawatu on Sunday where they'll play their final match, against Argentina.
Georgia 25 (Mamuka Gorgodze try; Merab Kvirikashvili 5 pen, con, Malkhaz Urjukashvili pen)
Romania 9 (Marin Danut Dumbrava 2 pen, Florin Adrian Vlaicu pen).
- Fairfax Media
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