In truth, this was never going to be a game for the purists but after driving rain set in shortly after the beginning of this match, handling errors and indiscipline ruled the remainder of the encounter.
Ultimately, Georgia lost by 6 points to 15 and all of the match points came from the boot. Georgia had Merab Kvirikashvili to thank for two sweetly timed efforts from both his attempts while Dan Parks was less successful percentage wise but thanks to Georgian indiscretion, the Australian born fly half was given enough opportunities to seal the game.
After Scotland’s narrow win over Romania was followed by a quick four day turnaround, Richie Dixon’s Georgian side must have rated their chances of an upset very highly and they started in positive mode.
Georgia dominated the first five minutes of the game with Scotland firmly on the back foot but the Scots slowly started to come back into the game and a battle of attrition set in for the next period of play.
Seventeen minutes passed before the first chance of the match when Georgia were awarded a penalty just inside their own half. Undeterred by the distance, Kvirikashvili stepped up and slotted it comfortably between the posts.
The lead certainly didn’t flatter the Georgians but their attempts to dominate from this point onwards were hampered by a combination of rain and their own indiscipline. Handling errors were compounded by failures to release on the ground and after Parks missed his opening penalty from wide on the left on nineteen minutes, he made no mistake three minutes later from right in front of the posts.
Both sides resorted to kicking deep for a time but opposing full backs Rory Lamont and Revaz Gigauri caught everything that came their way. Gigauri in particular was having a good game and looked threatening coming forward but sadly he was the only member of the Georgian back row that looked capable of making an impact.
On 32 minutes, referee George Clancy felt the need to warn skipper Irakli Abuseridze over his team’s propensity to give away penalties but it was Parks who handed out the real punishment, slotting over to make it 6-3.
A three point deficit at the break would have given Georgia plenty to play for in the second half but two minutes before the interval, Parks tried his luck with a drop goal from distance and connected perfectly to extend the score line to 9 -3.
However, there was still time for Scotland’s fly half to give his team a scare when attempting to kick the ball into touch prior to the whistle. His attempted clearance struck a team mate and Georgia almost recovered the ball ten metres out but to no avail.
By the time the two sides came out for the second period, the unceasing rain had made pitch conditions worse and for the next half an hour, the game descended into a scrappy affair, punctuated by endless errors, aimless kicking and more indiscipline by the Georgians.
This was never going to be a free flowing, running game but on the hour mark, the match had lost all momentum and structure. Finally, on 70 minutes, Parks was given the opportunity to extend the Scots lead with a penalty on the wide right which he duly converted.
It suddenly seemed a long time ago that Kvirikashvili had given the Georgians an early lead and apart from a scuffed drop goal attempt, his side didn’t come close to scoring again until they received their second kickable penalty on 72 minutes straight from the restart.
The kick was so calm and so clean that Richie Dixon must have bemoaned the fact that Kvirikashvili wasn’t given the chances to kick at goal that Parks had received.
It seemed that there may still be time to for Georgia to pull off an unlikely victory however but after they lost possession deep in their opponents’ half, Parks was given yet another chance for a kick at goal. The fly half duly obliged to seal a 15-6 triumph.
Neutrals will not have enjoyed this game but for Scotland, it was all about winning after their narrow win against the Romanians.
As for Georgia, the final statistics show that they gave away twice as many penalties as their opponents and that was the telling figure. If the trusty boot of Kvirikashvili had only been given the same chances as Dan Parks, the result may well have been different.
Georgia now travel to Dunedin to take on England on Sunday September 18th.