Wales ended their losing streak but could hardly fail against a team that was armed with nothing but heart. Georgia did not pose an attack threat, unlike Japan, who would have been the opponents had it not been for the pandemic, and they struggled to contain a greatly changed team that made up for their inexperience with push and a touch of the devil.
The conditions were made for a roof. A steady drizzle had fallen throughout the day, accompanied by a swirling wind, and players struggled to keep their balance from the start. Wales’ first attack ended when Seb Davies fumbled on contact, the first of many spills, but a team that had lost its previous six Trials and couldn’t afford the ignominy of a seventh brought the game to Georgia from the start.
Gloucester winger Louis Rees-Zammit, making his first test outing, scored the first try of the night having been caught on the line minutes earlier and also provided his best as he beat six defenders in a 22 run in the second. half.
Rookie James Botham added ballast in the break, strong on the ball and quick to catch the ball carriers, and elevated middle Callum Sheedy showed the confidence of someone who had more than two caps.
Wales was concerned that his initiation would take time because he plays for a club that prefers to maintain possession rather than kick it, but on a night when the boot seemed to be a safer option than hands, it proved adaptable and was his long pass. . , after Nick Tompkins attacked the line from a scrum, that created space for the Rees-Zammit starter.
The try came after 26 minutes, as Wales led Sheedy’s early 45-meter penalty and dominated in terms of territory and possession, not least because they were awarded the first seven penalties of the match as Georgia was too quick to lose. control after a tackle and failed to scrum in a straight line.
Sheedy’s cross shot on Georgia 22 caused a panic on the defense, but there were enough bodies to stop Rees-Zammit, Tompkins was stopped near the line three times and Johnny Williams, on his debut, provided a goal in midfield. that he had to submit. Wales showed more variety, resourcefulness and disposition than in their three previous matches after the lockout, but again faced a team that had no means to win the game.
Conditions should have been right for Georgia, with most of its pack playing for clubs in the Top 14, but its scrum was invariably illegal and its driving maul lacked impact. Most of his backs play in a domestic league, which was shown in his lack of attacking ideas and a kicking game that was surprisingly ineffective. All they had was desire and neither rain nor determined opponents quenched it. They were never far behind in terms of points, Sheedy’s 50th penalty made it 13-0, and it was only late when Wales scored their second try. But Georgia was nowhere near in terms of opportunities.
The pressure on Wayne Pivac will ease but, with England here on Saturday, the relief may be temporary. The Wales coach has to decide how many of the experienced players who were ineffective against Scotland and Ireland he will remember against the group leaders and Six Nations champions. If something showed a party that in the second half was a victim of the elements, it is that it needs to invest in the future, not in the past.
The debate in Wales in recent weeks has focused on the future of Pivac, but you have to pay attention to the four regions that supply the players of the national team.
Pivac’s main concern was second-half injuries to Liam Williams and Justin Tipuric, the latter after falling headlong after Rees-Zammit’s counterattack and a hit from Beka Saghinadze that earned the wing a yellow card. Rhys Webb’s final attempt after Johnny Williams’s carry and Rees-Zammit’s inside pass wrapped up a quiet night. Wales still have no reason to scream.
“A satisfied team with 13 changes had a result in difficult conditions,” said Pivac, before looking ahead to the next game in Wales. “England are a formidable team and it will be a challenge. I thought the yellow card deserved more, an ugly forearm to the face. “
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