I don’t think any sports team has given of their best when wearing grey and on the odd occasions that Wales have worn this drab colour they have produced a drab performance to match. This was certainly one of those occasions. A rather experimental Wales side took on the muscular Georgians at Cardiff and a pretty forgettable match for Welsh fans took place.
It started brightly enough for Wales with a penalty and a well-worked try by Amos giving them a 10-0 lead. Then came the moment that probably changed the game the ball was stripped from the Georgians in a maul and a few passes later Amos sped gleefully down the touchline and touched down for a try. Unfortunately the Welsh team’s joy was short-lived as play was called back by the TMO as the ball was deemed to have gone forward as it was stripped. To make matters worse the Georgians were awarded a penalty shortly afterwards to close the gap to 10-3.
The Georgian forwards began to realise that they had the edge over the youthful Welsh pack and from then on the contest became an arm wrestle with defences on top. It was pretty turgid stuff with Wales becoming more and more frantic and making far too many handling errors against a resolute defensive line.
The second half was grim with the Georgian scrum earning them penalties and stopping Wales getting good field position. As the game entered the final minutes, the score was 13-6 with the only scores in the second half a penalty apiece. Georgia were pressing hard and had a series of scrums and lineouts close to the Welsh line. Welsh replacement prop Francis was sinbinned for offside at a ruck and it looked like the Georgians would surely force a draw if they used their dominant scrum. Brown the Welsh starting tighthead should have come on to the field but suddenly developed “severe cramp” and could not return. This meant uncontested scrums so the Georgians opted for the lineout but after a series of forward drives gave away a penalty and Wales survived.
You have to feel a lot of sympathy for the Georgians as a draw would have been justice for their efforts. The young Welsh forwards will certainly know that they have been in a game this morning. It is really hard to assess what was learned from this encounter for Wales as there were no standout performances. Amos will have done his chances no harm and Webb and Priestland must be in contention at half back. The forwards looked lively until the collisions with the tough Georgian pack took their toll.
The Georgians would be a handful for any team and they are certainly the best of the second tier of nations. They are frustrated that they cannot progress further as the 6 Nations is ring-fenced with too many vested interests keeping it that way. Does that sound familiar to the Pooler fans out there? A draw against Wales would certainly have pressed their claim and really they were seemingly undone by a bit of sharp practice. Coming up against the uncontested scrum is familiar territory to Pontypool too!
Scotland really gave the All Blacks a fright in a display full of passion and flair. They could have snatched victory at the death had Hogg not been tackled just short if the line after a scintillating break. The All Blacks will be looking mean next Saturday I am sure – so look out Wales.
England beat Australia with a rather flattering score line on a day where most of the borderline decisions went against the Aussies. On a dry day the result might well have been different as the Ausssies looked far more inventive.
The Irish did “a Wales” against Fiji with a narrow victory for their “seconds”. Meanwhile France were pipped by South Africa who had capitulated against Ireland the previous week. Sounds like Wales have a couple of tough Saturdays ahead with All Blacks and Boks in town. I had better get in the queue for next Saturday now.
Come on Wales and come on the stewards!