It was a great start to the World Cup for Australia in the 35 degree heat of Paris. Georgia did themselves no favours, giving away 11 penalties and one yellow card in the first half. Australia scored through Petaia in the second minute and Nawaqanitawase in the eighth, while Ben Donaldson made a good job at fullback and slotted a conversion and three penalties.
The heat seemed to take its toll on both teams in the second 20 minutes of the first half and play slowed markedly. Georgia managed to get a little ball to their lightning quick wings. Australia played to their strengths, dominating the Georgian scrum and lineout, and pointing Valetini, Hooper, Kerevi and Koriobete and the Georgian midfield. Australia lead 21 to 3 at halftime. The Wallabies decided to replace Kerevi with Foketi at halftime. Eddie Jones emptied the bench over the course of the half.
Georgia moved into their patterns quite well and were more than competitive, while the Wallabies were scrambling to contain them. Ben Donaldson scored two tries, putting himself in good positions to take advantage of passes from Tupou and Carter.
I think the heat impacted the Australians much more than Georgia and can’t help but wonder how much of an advantage the northern hemisphere teams will have in the tournament.
The Game Changer
Tate McDermott took a knee to the scone at about the 35 minute and was knocked out cold. It’s hard to see McDermott not being concussed as a result, and that means a mandatory 12 day stand down for the scrumhalf.
The Player of the Match/Standout Player
With two tries, three conversions and three penalties, Ben Donaldson is my player of the match and the official player of the match.
Honourable mentions to Skelton, Hooper and McReight who put huge shifts while Matt Faesler had a shocker at the lineout when he came on.
Tries: Petaia, Nawaqanitawase, Donaldson 2
Conversions: Donaldson 3
Penalties: Donaldson 3
Tries: Ivanishvili, Gigashvili