Georgia led this match by seven points to five at half time but ultimately couldn’t contain the superior quality of their opponents. For long periods of time this was a physical encounter where both teams cancelled each other out until the Pumas’ backs were allowed to dominate in the last period.
The game was scoreless up until the 32nd minute and prior to that point, there was very little for the neutral to enjoy. Both packs remained solid while the backs were unable to penetrate their opposing defences. Georgia’s indiscipline was already beginning to show however but Felipe Contepomi missed two straightforward kicks to keep the scores level.
Just as the game looked set to go into half time at 0 – 0, Argentina broke and Contepomi fed Julio Farias Cabello who slipped the ball out to Juan Jose Imhoff who muscled his way through some desperate defending to breach the line.
Contempomi missed again with the conversion as the Pumas continued their profligacy with the boot that has seen them land only 6 kicks from 21 attempts.
Finally, Argentina were piecing together their game but Georgia responded well and two minutes later, Viktor Kolelishvili won a penalty in their opponents’ 22.
With Merab Kvirikasvili on the substitute’s bench, Malkhaz Urjukashvili took over responsibility but his kick was poor, drifting comfortably wide of the posts. It looked as is Georgia’s chance had gone but straight from the restart, Alexander Todua collected the ball on the right wing and just as he was about to be tackled into touch, he kicked inside for Lasha Khmaladze to run on and touch down.
This time, Urjukashvili made no mistake with the boot and sent the ball through the posts for Georgia to claim a narrow 7 points to 5 lead going into the second period.
The second half started in much the same vein as the first with physical forward play dominating and the backs seeing very little of the ball. The pattern of possession had changed however and the Pumas slowly started to dominate.
With Georgia very much on the back foot, they began to concede penalties once again and as Contepomi finally began to find his radar, he regained the lead for his side with 3 points on 51 minutes.
Georgia battled but the superiority of their opponents was just beginning to shine through and Argentina went close to adding a try on 58 minutes when Contepomi sent through a low kick for Amorosino to chase but fortunately Mamuka Gorgodze just reached the ball first.
Three minutes later however, Contepomi landed another three points and suddenly there was daylight between the two teams.
Up until this point, the Georgians had never really looked like adding to their seven points and sadly that pattern continued. Possession was all Argentinean and as the forwards dominated the scrum, the backs started to assert their individual qualities.
With quarter final qualification still in the balance, the Pumas were finishing the game more strongly and on 69 minutes the inevitable happened as Contepomi forced his way over for a converted try to take the score line to 18 – 7.
By now Georgia were visibly tiring and their 2011 World Cup campaign was running out of steam. Argentina took the chance to cement a quarter final berth as Imhoff kicked through some weary Georgian legs for replacement Agustín Gosio to run onto and touch down. This time, Marcelo Bosch took over the kicking duties to add the two points.
There was just time for Georgia to restart before the final whistle and a disappointing end to their tournament with a final score of 25 – 7 to the Pumas.
You feel at times that Georgia are so close to making a real breakthrough by beating one of the higher ranked rugby nations. They had chances to win against Scotland as they did here today and were only truly outclassed in their match against the English.
As it is, Richie Dixon’s men return home with a world cup victory against Romania and the promise of better things to come. Georgia play to their physical strengths which sadly won’t win them too many fans amongst neutral supporters but it is their best chance of winning games at the moment.
However, if they are to progress, they will need to find some world class quality in their back line and they will also need to address the indiscipline that has seen them concede so many penalties in this world cup. With a little fine tuning, Georgia will come back stronger in four years’ time.