World Cup - Dour Scotland scrape second win

Wed, 14 Sep 10:19:00 2011

Fly-half Dan Parks stroked four penalties and a drop goal to guide Scotland to a tight 15-6 victory over Georgia in their rugby World Cup Pool B match.

Georgia's Tedo Zibzibadze (C) and David Kacharava (R) tackle Scotland's Rory Lamont during their Rugby World Cup Pool B match at Rugby Park Stadium in Invercargill - 0

Parks missed three other shots at goal in the match but was instrumental in keeping the Georgians pinned inside their own territory with an astute tactical kicking game at Rugby Park in Invercargill.

While Scotland dominated territory and possession, and were never really in danger of losing, they were unable to finish off what opportunities they had with poor execution and a resolute Georgian defence.

Georgia fly-half Merab Kvirikashvili slotted two penalties and had two other drop goal attempts but the eastern Europeans rarely threatened with a narrow attack largely confined close to the ruck.

Scotland now top the pool with nine points having secured a four-try bonus point from their 34-24 win over Romania.

England, who face Georgia in Dunedin on Sunday, have four points after their 13-9 win over Argentina, who play their second game against Romania in Invercargill on Saturday.

"The conditions dictated a lot," said stand-in Scotland captain Rory Lawson. "We came up against a big old Georgian side who were really determined and physical. Ultimately it was a workmanlike performance to put them away.

"I felt we just kept plugging away and played in the right areas, put them under pressure and took the points when they were on offer."

For the second time in a week, Scotland were forced to dig deep by one of the World Cup outsiders and able to produce enough spirit and quality to find a way home.

Having seen their pack taken to the cleaners by Romania in their opening Pool B win on Saturday, Scotland made 10 changes to the side and responded strongly to the frontal assault of Georgia in messy contest.

Georgia have always been able to field an immensely powerful side but now, under the guidance of former Scotland coach Richie Dixon, they have added a new level of organisation and discipline.

That, combined with conditions make awkward by relentless rain, ensured that Scotland had to fight for every inch of ground.

Kvirikashvili put the Georgians on the board first with an impressive penalty from his own half but Scotland looked the more dangerous when their backs got the ball, with wing Sean Lamont proving particularly slippery.

Parks, who peppered the Georgian defence with a series of up-and-unders and some astute tactical kicks, landed two of four first-half penalty attempts as well as a sweetly-struck drop goal to give Scotland a 9-3 lead at the break.

Desperate to force his way back into the first-choice flyhalf berth currently occupied by Ruaridh Jackson, Parks slid in some more telling kicks in the second half but Scotland struggled to impose themselves on a team with only one win over Namibia from their previous eight World Cup matches.

Seeking to maintain their proud record of reaching at least the quarter-finals of every World Cup, Scotland certainly matched the burly east Europeans for aggression, though, and eventually came to dominate.

Parks missed another attempt after an hour but eventually split the posts again with two more kicks in the last 10 minutes, as Georgians ran out of steam.

Lawson was keen to praise his forwards following the criticism last weekend after the game against Romania.

"That was a massive hats off to our front five today," he added. "They were outstanding. They took the Georgian scrum on and I think they went out and showed what we're about.

"It's tough with a four-day turnaround but we've got what we wanted. We are going to leave Invercargill with nine points, which we are very happy with and we will put ourselves back together for the next challenge."

After a well-earned break, Scotland's next challenge is against Argentina on 25 September, in what is likely to be a shoot-out for second-place in the pool and a potential quarter-final meeting with hosts New Zealand.

Georgia skipper Irakli Abuseridze lamented his team's overall performance, which he felt was sloppy.

"We made too many mistakes. We didn't play good and they played well," he said. "We lost a lot at the breakdown and lost the ball. It's rugby. If you don't have the ball you lose the game."

SCORING TIMELINE:

17’ Kvirikashvili penalty: 0-3 Georgia

23’ Parks penalty: Scotland 3-3

33’ Parks penalty: Scotland 6-3

38’ Parks drop goal: Scotland 9-3

71’ Parks penalty: Scotland 12-3

72’ Kvirikashvili penalty: 12-6 Georgia

75’ Parks penalty: Scotland 15-6

Reuters

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