Scotland 36, Georgia 9: Late try burst sees Scotland romp home
A late three-try burst sent Scotland off to the World Cup in good heart as they wore down a dogged Georgia in their final warm-up Test in front of a bumper crowd at BT Murrayfield.
Gregor Townsend’s men had to work hard but eventually overwhelmed the visitors. They now head for Japan on Monday to their Nagasaki holding camp before their first Pool A match against Ireland in Yokohama two weeks tomorrow.
On a still late summer night in the Capital, Georgia threatened early but a knock on ruined a good try-scoring chance. The home side sparked into life in the 12th minute when a clever Sam Johnson offload got things moving and when the ball was swept right it seemed Tommy Seymour was certain to score in the corner but he couldn’t quite keep a hold of the ball.
The try did come five minutes later and it was an absolute gem. Full-back Blair Kinghorn took a long clearance and immediately surged back at the opposition. He got his pass away to left wing Darcy Graham and a slick exchange between Sam Johnson and Ali Price sent the scrum-half over for a brilliant opening score, which Adam Hastings failed to convert.
A penalty for offside saw Georgian stand-off Tebo Abzhanadze strike cleanly from just short of 40 metres to claw three points back.
Graham provided the final assist for the second score, which came once again from some excellent creativity by the backs. Lock Scott Cummings, who enjoyed a fine game, opened the Georgians up with some great carrying before Hastings produced a delightfully-judged cross-kick to Graham, who took the ball on the touchline before popping inside for Kinghorn to score. Hastings missed another difficult conversion chance but Abzhanadze made no mistake with another penalty chance to keep his side just four points adrift.
Kinghorn departed with a head knock to be replaced by centre Chris Harris, who moved to right wing and Seymour filled in at full-back.
The Georgian No.10 was on the mark yet again with another penalty to cut the Scottish lead to a single point. A period of messy scrummaging followed, sapping the momentum out of the game and ended with both Scotland tighthead Zander Fagerson and Georgia loosehead and captain Mikheil Nariashvili being sent to the sin bin by referee Romain Poite for repeated collapsing. Blade Thomson was temporarily sacrificed for Simon Berghan to plug the gap.
The Scots ran out for the second half with Harris still on for Kinghorn and lock Jonny Gray withdrawn after his first run-out of this warm-up series and replaced by Ben Toolis.
Thomson was soon back on for Berghan as Fagerson completed his ten-minute sentence while the Georgians continued to frustrate the hosts with some good possession retention and a much sharper and effective gameplan, orchestrated by Abzhanadze, than they had employed six nights previously in the 44-10 loss to the Scots in Tbilisi.
After five minutes flanker Jamie Ritchie took a blow to the head and was replaced by Edinburgh clubmate Magnus Bradbury – one of the two members of the match squad alongside Glasgow hooker Grant Stewart – who hadn’t made it into the 31-man squad for Japan.
Scotland managed to get some go forward with a surging wave of phases which saw the Georgian defensive line buckle and Johnson picked out a perfect angle to stroll under the posts for a third Test try on his sixth cap. As Hastings knocked over the extras the Georgian woes were compounded by right wing Zurab Dzneladze being yellow carded for a blatant off-the-ball tackle on Graham in the lead up to the try. Price made way for George Horne at scrum-half, then Allan Dell was on for Gordon Reid at loosehead and Johnson was replaced by Pete Horne in the 65th minute before lock Ben Toolis was taken off for an HIA after taking a whack during a carry, replaced by Grant Stewart as George Turner moved to back row and Thomson up to lock.
The stop-start deadlock was broken when Scotland moved it wide through Hastings and Duncan Taylor before Harris slipped the pace to Graham, who burned down the narrow window by the touchline to dive over.
The floodgates were open now and the Horne brothers applied the final blows, first George picking up from a ruck and scampering through a gap before elder brother Pete surged over to finish things off.