Cheika’s side labour to give England heart for quarters
Australia 27 Georgia 8 Att: 39,802
Australia were a long way off their best, but managed to overcome Georgia in difficult conditions in Fukuroi to book a likely quarterfinal against England.
Typhoon Hagibis approaching Japan led to heavy wind and rain battering the Shizuoka Stadium Ecopa, where Australia went ahead with Nic White’s 22nd-minute try.
It was not until after the hour that they scored another, through Marika Koroibete. Jack Dempsey
and Will Genia tries gave Australia a bonus-point win after Alexander Todua touched down for Georgia.
Australia therefore moved to the top of Pool D, but Wales will leapfrog them if they avoid defeat by Uruguay tomorrow, which would see the Wallabies take on Pool C winners England in Oita next Saturday. If that is indeed how events unfold, then England head coach Eddie Jones would have taken heart from Australia’s laboured display.
Michael Cheika, the Australia coach, said: “I wanted the forwards to get a good hard hit out. We know it will be a big contest next week in the forwards, so those parts of the game were important. Now we’re in the knockout stages we have to keep building now we’re here. I
think we’re getting a platform, but we need to be sharper in attack.”
They lost Kurtley Beale inside 15 minutes, with the full-back not returning to the field following a head injury assessment.
Australia routinely made errors in Georgia’s 22 before the pressure eventually told, White burrowing over from close range. Australia have been criticised for their indiscipline and it surfaced again, Tolu Latu’s high tackle awarding Georgia a penalty, with Soso Matiashvili splitting the posts.
Isi Naisarani, the No8, was shown a yellow card five minutes before the interval after appearing to make contact with the face of Giorgi Nemsadze with a leading arm. Despite being down to 14 men, Matt Toomua slotted home a penalty to give Australia a 10-3 half-time lead.
Wing Koroibete burst forward from halfway and skipped past two defenders to give Australia breathing room. But back came Georgia through Todua, who touched down on the left wing after being teed up by Lasha Khmaladze. However, tries in the final five minutes from Dempsey and Genia made certain of an Australia victory.
Australia Beale (Haylett-petty 13); Petaia (Lealiifano 57), O’connor, Kerevi, Koroibete; Toomua, White (Genia 50); Sio (Slipper 57), Latu (Uelese 65), Kepu (Tupou 45), Rodda, Arnold, Dempsey, Pocock (Salakaia-loto 60), Naisarani. Sin bin Naisarani.
Georgia Matiashvili; Kveseladze, Kacharava (Mchedlidze 57), Sharikadze (Malaguradze 71), Todua; Khmaladze, Aprasidze (Lobzhanidze 50); Nariashvili (Gogichashvili 50), Mamukashvili (Bregvadze 50), Gigashvili (Melikidze 50), Nemsadze (Giorgadze 34), Mikautadze, Saghinadze (Tkhilaishvili 57), Gorgodze, Gorgadze.
Referee Pascal Gauzere (France).
Trying conditions: Wing Marika Koroibete runs in Australia’s second