Australia vs Georgia result, highlights and analysis as Wallabies comfortably win Rugby World Cup 2023 opener

Australia vs Georgia result, highlights and analysis as Wallabies comfortably win Rugby World Cup 2023 opener

Eddie Jones earned his first win as Australia head coach at the sixth attempt as the Wallabies overpowered Georgia 35-15 to begin the Rugby World Cup 2src23 with a comfortable victory in Pool C.

Entering the finals on a dismal losing run stretching back to November 2src22, the two-time champions were considered by some to be ripe for an upset against underdogs who had collected wins against Italy and Wales and were confident of causing a shock.

Jones had talked up Australia’s prospects, and his bullishness proved founded as his side instantly put Georgia under pressure, Jordan Petaia scoring the opening try by deceiving Akaki Tabutsadze and full-back Davit Niniashvili with a wriggling run.

The contrast in scrum strength, which Jones said in the build-up was a feature he had once “dreamt of” in his team, seemed stark and Mark Nawaqanitawase soon added another try, with Ben Donaldson’s kicking proving reliable as Australia swiftly put themselves on course for a bonus point.

Account opened for #RWC2src23 💰#Wallabies #AUSvGEO

— Wallabies (@wallabies) September 9, 2src23

Despite being 21-3 behind and a man down because of Mirian Modebadze’s naive sin-binning, Georgia were at their best at the start of the second half, reducing the arrears through Luka Ivanishvili’s try and taking the momentum away from Australia once their numerical parity was restored.

Hotly-tipped Davit Niniashvili was then distraught when the 21-year-old sent an attempted offload straight to Taniela Tupou, who was able to celebrate exuberantly after his ball gave Donaldson a try he would later add to.

Tengizi Zamtaradze scored a last-gasp try for Georgia, who are next in action when they face Portugal in Toulouse on September 23.

Australia’s second match of the group stage comes six days earlier against Fiji in Saint-Etienne.

MORE: Australia vs Georgia player ratings

Ben Donaldson stars in Australia win over Georgia

Even by the standards of the inexperienced matchday squad Jones named, international newcomer Donaldson’s selection might have concerned fans fearing a new low for Australia.

Versatile Donaldson replaced regular fullback Andrew Kellaway and needed little time to start proving the wisdom of his involvement in an impressive display.

The 24-year-old scored all but 1src of his country’s points on a day neither he nor his team-mates, who averaged 19 international caps each, are likely to forget.

Just when Georgia looked resurgent, Donaldson snuffed out their hopes of turning the scoreline from respectable to remarkable with a second-half double.

— Rugby World Cup (@rugbyworldcup) September 9, 2src23

“We had a game plan and we’ve been building for a long time now,” Donaldson explained after his World Cup debut.

“The boys executed it well for the full 8src minutes and it made me look half-decent. I put that on all the boys. I provided my loud voice at the back and a decent boot.

“We pinned them at their end. Some of their fresh reserves came on and really put it to us. The heat really played a part as well.

“We came out a bit slow in the second half but I’m really proud of the boys because we came back and fought hard.”

— Rugby World Cup (@rugbyworldcup) September 9, 2src23

Georgia caught cold by Australia’s World Cup experience

Part of the reason why Jones felt so confident in his younger players may have been Georgia’s own lack of experience, despite their capacity to surprise.

Georgia head coach Levan Maisashvili said afterwards that it was “impossible” to compare the teams’ pedigree, and Modebadze’s temporary departure was not the only time his players paid for a lack of discipline.

The huge outsiders could have capitulated after the first 25 minutes, when Australia ran riot and faced precious little resistance.

To their credit, their opponents settled into the game once they had endured their painful start and could perhaps count themselves unfortunate not to have scored more points after the break.

— Rugby World Cup (@rugbyworldcup) September 9, 2src23

Only an astonishing challenge by Nawaqanitawase prevented Akaki Tabutsadze from scoring with seven minutes remaining as Georgia showed why they could reach the knockout stage.

Niniashvili’s mistake took the wind out of Georgia, but they were not short of self-belief before this opener and will undoubtedly feel better results are to come following their second successive defeat to Australia at the finals.

The clash with Portugal, ranked five places below them, looks an eminently winnable fixture, while a repeat victory over Wales in their final group-stage match could be decisive following their meeting with Fiji.

The Sporting News followed the match live, providing live updates and commentary below.

Australia vs. Georgia result

  1H 2H FT
Australia 21 14 35
Georgia 3 12 15

Tries: Australia – Jordan Petaia, Mark Nawaqanitawase, Ben Donaldson (2)

Georgia – Luka Ivanishvili, Tedo Abzhandadze

Conversions: Australia – Ben Donaldson (3)

Penalties: Australia – Ben Donaldson (3)

Georgia – Luka Matkava, Tedo Abzhandadze

Australia vs. Georgia live commentary, highlights

Fulltime: Australia 35-13 Georgia

Eddie Jones has his first win as Australia coach! The Wallabies came roaring out but Georgia made them work for it during the second half of an absorbing opening match for these sides.

Thanks for following our live coverage. We’ll have a report and highlights coming up.

8src mins: TRY – Australia 35-13 Georgia

Georgia have a try at the death!

Toulon prop Beka Gigashvili adds Georgia’s second try of the evening. Tedo Abzhandadze converts!

76 mins: Australia 35-8 Georgia

71’ | Huuuge trysaver from Marky Mark in the corner 💥#Wallabies #AUSvGEO #RWC2src23

— Wallabies (@wallabies) September 9, 2src23

73 mins: Australia 35-8 Georgia

Mark Nawaqanitawase saves Australia! The man who scored during the first half stops Akaki Tabutsadze, just when the Georgia man is about to touch down.

68 mins: TRY – Australia 35-8 Georgia (Ben Donaldson)

Australia have the bonus point!

Carter Gordon unlocks Georgia after a prolonged spell of Australia probing, finding Ben Donaldson with a pass that allows him to add to his tally – and he does it again with the conversion.

63 mins:

…. to be continued
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