Narrow win for Russia while Georgia slump to defeat in European Nations Cup
Portugal 32-33 Russia
Coach Kingsley Jones was indebted to the kicking qualities of Anton Ryabov and Yuri Kushnarev whose collective boots saw Russia scrape home by a single point in their European Nations Cup Tie on the 11th of February. Portugal actually outscored their opponents in the tries department by 4 to 3 but by missing a late conversion the home side failed to secure the vital win.
Jones was without three English based players for the game and included only Wasps Viktor Gresev from his Aviva Premiership contingent and with a weakened side on foreign soil, it was always going to be a tough battle.
By the break, Russia were behind by 20 points to 16 with Gardner and Spachuk crossing the line for the home side and Ricardo adding the points from the boot. For the visitors, Ostroushko touched down with Kushnarev adding the conversion and Ryabov slotting over three penalties.
Jones had promised to try out new players in the competition but he relied heavily on Denis Simplikevich, the find of the World Cup to bring Russia back into the game. Simplikevich filled in at fly half and full back and it was his try that gave his side the edge and with Ryabov now injured, Kushnarevs boot saw the away team head into a 26-20 lead.
Ostroushko then added his second converted try to extend that advantage but Russias already shaky defence was hampered when the visitors went down to 14 men. The Portuguese rallied to come within one point but couldnt nail the final conversion to snatch the game.
Spain 25-18 Georgia
Like their Russian counterparts, Georgia also went into this game with a weakened side but would have been disappointed to lose by such a wide margin.
In truth, the Georgians were never really in the match and by half time, the home side were leading by 18 points to 8. Georgias points came courtesy of a Dmitri Basilaia try and a Kvirikashvili conversion but the defence conceded too many infringements to allow the home side to race into a comfortable lead.
Georgia rallied in the last twenty minutes but by that point they were down by 25 points to 8. Spain had increased their lead early in the second half while Chkaidze was in the sin bin a measure of the away sides indiscipline.
Finally, Georgia showed some fluency in their attacking play and on the hour mark, Shkinin crossed over and ten minutes later, Chilachava added a further five points. Both tries went unconverted to leave the final score 25-18 to Spain.
Once again, Georgias indiscipline contributed enormously to their failure against a side who they should expect to beat on a regular basis.