Ireland 14 Gerogia 10: Lucky Irish given fright of their lives by gallant Georgia

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The Independent Online

When the underdog is a bull mastiff, beware. Georgia ran Ireland ragged with a bruising style of forward confrontation which ended with a punch-up on the final whistle. For 80 minutes the Irish had come off worse and trudged off the pitch while the men in red and white were lauded like heroes. They were heroes.

Ireland looked nothing like the team that destroyed England at Croke Park this year. They may even have been worse than the stuttering performance they displayed against Namibia. Georgia had over 60 per cent of the possession and nearly 70 per cent territorial dominance – they played until they looked fit to drop and then found hearts bigger than the rugby balls they were playing with to drive and drive again. They deserved to win.

For Ireland to have reached half-time leading by only seven to three, a try after a lineout drive by Rory Best, was bad enough. To have David Wallace in the yellow card bin for the opening six minutes of the second half made matters worse and there was by then the lurking fear that number eight Denis Leamy may attract the attention of the citing officer after a retaliatory stamp on Georgia's loosehead prop, Mamuka Magrakvelidze.

As two-match bans seem to be the norm and Ireland's next two games are against the French in Paris on Friday and then nine days later Argentina, coach Eddie O'Sullivan wants every ounce of best muscle at his disposal.

In a flashback to times of yore, Georgia stayed on the pitch at half time, with O'Sullivan undoubtedly making best use of the privacy of the dressing room but even he could not have imagined the fairy story interception and 70-yard sprint by wing Giorgi Shkinin to score under the posts. Merab Kvirikashvili, who plays for Pau, added the conversion to his first-half penalty and all Ireland's attacking moves were smothered except for Girvan Dempsey's try on 48 minutes. That was the end of it. For the rest they were on the back foot. The future looks grim.

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