Ireland scrape past Georgia
BORDEAUX, 15 September - Ireland escaped from the Stade Chaban-Delmas with a narrow 14-10 victory over Georgia on Saturday, keeping alive their hopes of progressing to the quarter-finals thanks to tries by hooker Rory Best and full back Girvan Dempsey.
They failed though to get the bonus point they had been targeting from the Pool D match, and were lucky to emerge with the victory against a Georgian outfit who gave their all from start to finish and thoroughly deserved the standing ovation they received at the end.
Georgia sensed their first ever IRB Rugby World Cup victory and pounded the Irish line for phase upon phase, but couldn't find the breakthrough. However, Georgia still left the field with their first ever RWC point, the bonus point for losing by less than seven points - their lowest ever margin of defeat at a RWC.
They could though have been celebrating that elusive victory - and dealt Ireland's quarter-final hopes a huge blow - with fly half Merab Kvirikashvili having missed a penalty and four drop goals, along with one attempt by wing Giorgi Shkinin.
Instead Ireland live to fight another day, but will need to find their form before facing France and Argentina.
Ireland had taken 17 minutes to break down the resolute Georgian defence, a drive from a line-out parting to allow hooker Rory Best to dive over for the try with fly half Ronan O'Gara converting to make it 7-0.
O'Gara missed a penalty from just inside the Georgian half after 21 minutes and things got worse for Ireland when flanker David Wallace was sent to the sin bin by referee Wayne Barnes (ENG), giving Kvirikashvili his chance to kick his first successful penalty in the 38th minute.
That kick brought up the 50-point mark in RWC history for Georgia and the score remained 7-3 at half time.
Ireland emerged for the second half with a little more impetus to their play, but it was Georgia who took the lead when wing Shkinin intercepted a long pass by scrum half Peter Stringer to Brian O'Driscoll and raced 70m to score Georgia's first try of RWC 2007.
Kvirikashvili kicked the conversion to give Georgia the lead for the first time, just before Wallace returned from the sin bin after a 10-point turnaround in his absence. Ireland were momentarily shellshocked, turning over the ball and losing their own throw at the line-out.
Georgia threatened to score another try when they won a line-out five metres out, but they lost the ball and Ireland flanker Wallace charged up field, the ball eventually finding its way to full back Dempsey to hand off scrum half Bidzina Samkharadze and touch the ball down in the 55th minute.
The floodgates might have been expected to open as Ireland tried to wrestle control of a match they had been looking to claim a bonus point from, but the Georgians refused to buckle, turning ball over and driving Ireland back time and time again with some pinpoint kicking.