Robinson delighted by ugly win
September 14, 2011
Scotland edged an attritional match thanks largely to the boot of Dan Parks © Getty Images
Scotland head coach Andy Robinson hailed mission accomplished from the first phase of the World Cup campaign after his team beat Georgia 15-6 to secure their second Pool B win in five days.
The Scots followed up the 34-24 bonus-point victory over Romania by winning an attritional battle against Georgia at Rugby Park Stadium in Invercargill, with Dan Parks kicking four penalties from seven attempts and a drop goal and Merab Kvirikashvili replying with two penalties.
"Some days you've got to play this way - you've got to win ugly," he said. "The key for us was to win the game. I was delighted with the way the players played, right across the board."
The victory saw Rory Lawson extend his 100% record as captain and all but secured at least third place in the pool and qualification for the 2015 World Cup in England. Scotland's hopes of maintaining their record of progressing from the pool stage at every World Cup tournament also remained alive ahead of the September 25 clash with Argentina in Wellington.
"I set the target when we discussed the first phase of our campaign that when we left Invercargill we wanted nine points," he said. "We've achieved that and the guys stuck to a very good plan today. I thought the front five were outstanding in the way they took on the renowned Georgian pack."
After the forwards struggled in the opening victory over Romania, Wednesday's win was built on a pack which dominated their rivals. The front five - with Ross Ford drafted in at hooker following a tight calf for Scott Lawson - excelled in the set-piece and the back row were determined in defence and strong in attack.
Tighthead prop Euan Murray was the foundation stone of Scotland's scrum and provided the forward impetus. The Newcastle Falcons prop refuses to play on Sundays for religious reasons and is therefore expected to miss the date with the Pumas, but the impression he made means he is likely to return against England in Auckland on October 1.
Robinson, who knew on Tuesday that Scott Lawson would not be fit to feature, added: "I thought Euan played very well today and I was delighted. The decision's down to Euan as to whether he plays against Argentina. I'm not expecting him to play."
Scotland's forwards were under par against Romania - at the set-piece and in broken play - and Robinson was pleased with the improvement. He added: "Everybody wrote about - and rightly so - the strength of the Georgian scrummaging, but I was delighted with the way we scrummaged. We stopped Georgia mauling today as well which was pleasing - traits that will be important when we go to play Argentina and England."
Second rows Jim Hamilton and Nathan Hines thrived against the Georgia pack and the back row of Ross Rennie, Alasdair Strokosch and Kelly Brown were outstanding. Brown was awarded man of the match. There was a 14-6 penalty count against Georgia and Robinson felt they were fortunate to avoid a yellow card.
"It was such a stop-start game because of the amount of penalties that were given away," he said. "That's what can frustrate you as a team. That can break your rhythm and I was certainly surprised there wasn't a sin-binning."
Georgia head coach Richie Dixon was frustrated by the penalties conceded by his side. The Georgians went close to stunning Ireland before falling to a 14-10 defeat in 2007, but Scotland were in control and a giant-killing never looked likely.
Former Scotland coach Dixon said: "We knew that Scotland would come at us. I felt that our defence was holding up - they were making half-breaks but we were still knocking them over.
The most disappointing thing for me was we didn't really get our attacking play developed mainly though our own efforts - because of giving away penalties at crucial times." Next up for Georgia is England in Dunedin on Sunday. Dixon added: "(There was) a bit of first-match syndrome. I think some of the penalties were over-enthusiasm rather than deliberate.
"Now we've got the first game under our belt we can have a really good look at ourselves. We were our own worst enemies, particularly in attacking plays. We bus ourselves up to Dunedin and we've got to gather ourselves again for another big effort very soon against England."
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
The reopening of the openside debate, a dominant wolf-pack and a sublime performance in defeat - Monday Maul looks at the weekend's talking points
The latest Week in Pictures takes in the Rugby Championship alongside the best photographs from around the domestic game
Amy Perrett, the Australian referee who whistled the Women's Rugby World Cup final after handling only six Tests, talks to Jamie Lyall
John Griffiths digs into the distant past to try to establish the identity of an England international whose life is a virtual mystery