Georgia Suffer Tbilisi Cup Disappointment against Emerging Italy

An under-strength Georgia fell to a nonetheless surprising 26-10 defeat at the hands of Emerging Italy at Avchala Stadium in their second match of the Tbilisi Cup on June 17.

The result confirmed Emerging Ireland as the tournament’s winners with a game to spare, and they will be presented with the trophy following their concluding match of the event against hosts Georgia on June 21.

The Georgians had started the tournament reasonably well with a relatively comfortable 19-10 win over Uruguay in their opening game on June 13 courtesy of Konstantin Mikautadze’s try and kicked points from Beka Tsiklauri and Lasha Malaghuradze.

Earlier that day, The Emerging Irish had cruised to a 25-0 triumph over their Italian equivalents with tries from Eoin Griffin, Andrew Conway, Stuart McCloskey and Tiernan O’Halloran.

It was only minutes after Georgia’s match with the Uruguayans that the torrential rain fell on Tbilisi that would lead to the tragic flooding and deadly events that followed.

Soon after, the Georgian players, as well as staff, were out in force joining the volunteer effort to clean up the affected parts of the city. Whether these exertions contributed to an underwhelming display against the Italians’ second string is uncertain but if it did, it would be understandable.

The Georgians certainly didn’t look like being subjected to a 16-point defeat in a competitive first half which finished with the scores level at 3-3 courtesy of early penalties by the visitors’ Carlo Canna and the hosts Malaghuradze.

However, after the restart things quickly took a bad turn for Georgia as Canna’s drop goal followed by Simone Marinaro’s try which was converted by Canna who then quickly added a penalty put the Italians 16-3 ahead before the hour mark.

Hopes of a comeback were more or less extinguished when Muraz Giorgadze was yellow carded in the 61st minute, after which Canna added a further five points from the boot, two of them from a conversion after Maxime Mbanda’s 65th minute score.

Flanker Beka Gorgadze’s try at the death, converted by Tsiklauri, represented scant consolation for the hosts who had been hoping to give the Georgian people some brief positive respite from the devastation of the flooding.

A 33-7 victory for Emerging Ireland over Uruguay earlier that day, combined with Georgia’s loss, assured the Irish of tournament success. However, Milton Haig’s Lelos still have the chance to restore some pride on home soil when they take on the Irish on Sunday, before they prepare for the World Cup which begins in England and Wales in less than three months.

Alastair Watt

18 June 2015 22:39