Sat, 16 Jan 2021

Ireland secured an Autumn Nations Cup playoff against Scotland next weekend with an edgy 23-10 victory over tenacious Georgia at Lansdowne Road on Sunday.

Billy Burns' 15 points on his first Test start was the highlight of the hosts' performance.

It was a much improved performance by the away team after failing to register a point in their previous two matches and they will hope Covid-affected Fiji are able to field a side next weekend in their playoff.

The game was preceded by a minute's silence for the late French rugby great Christophe Dominici with a photo of him on one of his jinking runs and the words Rest In Peace showing on the big screen.

Burns took less than 10 minutes of his maiden Test start to score his first try for Ireland running onto a brilliant pop pass by Chris Farrell. The Ulster flyhalf converted for 7-0.

Burns added a penalty soon after as Irish pressure provoked Georgia into conceding penalties.

However, a bit of individual brilliance by Giorgi Kveseladze saw the Georgians score their first points of the competition taking full-back Soso Matiashvili's pass inside his half.

He went on a mazy run sending Jacob Stockdale the wrong way and breaking a Burns tackle to touch down and being mobbed by his team-mates.

Once the Georgian celebrations had died down flyhalf Tedo Abzhandadze collected himself and converted for 10-7.

Burns gave the Irish some breathing space converting a penalty for 13-7.

A superb passage of play from the hosts, beginning with Conor Murray's box kick collected brilliantly by Hugo Keenan was just the pep the Irish needed.

Ireland hooker Rob Herring went close to scoring their second try but a Georgian player succeeded in preventing him touching the ball down on the line.

Hugo Keenan did secure their second try as the wing was picked out by Stockdale's long pass and went in at the corner.

Burns boot converted from wide out on the right for 20-7.

The Irish looked to have put the game to bed when Stuart McCloskey marked his first cap for two years touching down but Stockdale's pass was ruled forward.

The Irish went close again as the clock ticked into over-time in the first-half but Georgian flanker Tornike Jalagonia held up James Ryan.

It left the Ireland captain shaking his head and kept the visitors' slender hopes of a famous win alive.

That was about as good as it got for Ireland as their performance fell away in the second-half.

Burns impressive first start came to a premature end in the 45th minute, replaced by Ross Byrne after taking a knock.

Irish nerves were kept jangling as Abzhandadze slotted over a penalty for 20-10.

Byrne put Ireland 13 points clear with a penalty as the hour mark approached with the Georgians tenaciously hanging on.

The Irish pressed hard to score a third try but CJ Stander was again held on the line and the visitors cleared.

A reflection of the match was it was the Georgians who had smile son their faces at the final whistle and the hosts who looked downcast.

Source: News24

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