Parks' boot enough to guide Scots home
September 14, 2011
Rory Lawson carries the ball forward against Georgia
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Scotland won an attritional match 15-6 over Georgia to make it two from two for Andy Robinson's men.
The Pool B contest at Rugby Park Stadium was settled by the boot in persistent rain after Scotland's forwards put on a much-improved display following last Saturday's 34-24 opening win over Romania. Four years after Georgia, coached by ex-Scotland boss Richie Dixon, went close to stunning Ireland before falling to a 14-10 defeat, Robinson's side refused to buckle.
Dan Parks kicked all of Scotland's points - four penalties from seven attempts and a drop goal - with Merab Kvirikashvili replying with two penalties for Georgia at either end of the game.
After being given a torrid time by Romania, Scotland were stubborn in defence, with the back row of Ross Rennie, Alasdair Strokosch and Kelly Brown outstanding and the front five equally strong. 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.
It also kept alive Scotland's hopes of maintaining their record of progressing from the pool stage at every World Cup tournament. The September 25 clash with Argentina in Wellington and October 1 bout with England in Auckland will determine if Scotland advance.
Those contests will likely be tougher tests than that experienced in Invercargill, where Scotland began their second match in five days with a team showing 10 changes. A tight calf meant Scott Lawson was replaced by Ross Ford moments before kick-off, while the only other retained players were Allan Jacobsen, Kelly Brown, Max Evans and Sean Lamont.
Head coach Robinson insisted the changes were due to the proximity of the matches, rather than a reflection on the performance against Romania as Scotland face another forward onslaught from Georgia.
Dixon's men set out their plan from the opening exchanges and went close to scoring from their first foray into Scotland's 22, only for Kvirikashvili to hit a drop-goal attempt wide. Kvirikashvili went for goal from inside his own half when Scotland were penalised for a marginal offside in chasing a Parks high ball and Georgia took a 3-0 lead after 18 minutes.
Parks dragged an effort wide as Scotland were immediately awarded the opportunity to level before his first successful attempt at goal came after a Georgia offside. The fly-half went for goal from just inside the Georgia half only for his attempt to fall short, before converting another opportunity as Georgia were again punished for an indiscretion at the breakdown.
Scotland continued to peel off at the breakdown but Georgia's defence was stubborn and Parks opted for a drop goal to increase the advantage two minutes prior to the interval. The Cardiff Blues fly-half nearly undid all his good work as time expired at the end of the half. His casual attempted clearance to touch was blocked and Georgia forged forward, but Scotland stopped them and Parks was reprieved.
If the first half was attritional, the third quarter was even more so. Scotland were beginning to make half breaks through the Georgia defence, but a couple of handling errors saw the ball turned over.
Scotland's scrum was much-improved from the Romania game and began to fire, while in the loose flanker Rennie and lock Nathan Hines won a couple of crucial turnovers. Parks went for goal from the halfway line when Georgia's scrum was penalised for collapsing, but again the Scotland fly-half missed.
Rory Lamont burst down the left, bouncing out of a few tackles before offloading to Hines, who was caught offside and bundled into touch as Scotland attempted to threaten the Georgia line. Another offside from Georgia handed Parks a further chance from 25 metres and his kick was successful.
Scotland called for reinforcements and Hines was replaced by Richie Gray and Rory Lamont by Chris Paterson. Kvirikashvili had an immediate opportunity to reply after Scotland held on to the ball on the floor and he reduced the arrears to six points with seven minutes remaining.
But Georgia's indiscipline was punished again by Parks as the nine-point cushion was restored and Scotland secured a narrow triumph and now go on to Wellington eager to secure their passage to the last eight.
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