Anyone who watched the first five minutes and the last fifteen would have thought this to be a one sided IDRC Plate Final. In this time the Royal Navy score 26 unanswered points through four well taken tries. However, for the remaining three quarters of the game the Georgia team stood toe to toe with the Royal Navy and though their forceful play up front was expected their back line produces by far the best display of the tournament. They deserved their try and probably at least one more. The final 32-7 victory didn’t flatter the Royal Navy but neither did it tell the full story of Georgia’s contribution.
From the first scrum the Georgia forwards laid down the marker as they shunted the Royal Navy pack backwards. Georgia pressed forward in defence but Richard Cadywould found Royal Navy centre Sam Davies, whose delightful angle sliced through the first up defence and quickly revealed the Royal Navy’s intentions. Though Georgia were able to clear their lines it was Navy fullback, Jon Humphrey, who again ran the ball back hard and his footwork bamboozled the Georgian defence. Dave Fairbrother kept the move alive before winger Greg Welling took the ball towards the goal line and, with a deft inside pass, found Richard Cadywould who went under the posts for the opening score. He left himself an easy conversion and within a minute was attempting his second. From the restart the Royal Navy swept down field and with the ball being moved before contact the Georgia defence was again unpicked and it was popular lock forward, John Lamsin, who crashed over from short range. 12-0 with just over five minutes gone and the Royal Navy’s high tempo game looked to be too much for Georgia.
Did the Royal Navy relax or Georgia raise their game? But the rest of the half did not go as planned for the Royal Navy. For the next twenty five minutes it was Georgia who enjoyed the greater share of possession and much of the territory as the Royal Navy’s unforced errors prevented them from getting any continuity. With their strong scrum and effective pick and drive game, Georgia were able to keep possession for long periods whilst in their half backs, Chendle and Dogonadze, they had two inventive players with an eye for the break. As the half wore on the Georgians grew in confidence and enjoyed the vocal support of all the neutrals in the crowd. Georgia thoroughly deserved their score on 32 minutes when they were able to drive over hooker Sutizde from short range. Centre Giorgashvilli added the conversion and Georgia were within a score. They clearly had the Royal Navy rattled but home nerves were calmed a little when Cadywould was able to extend the lead just before half time with a well struck penalty. 15 – 7 at half time.
Georgia started the second half as they played much of the first, taking the game to the Royal Navy. They were very unlucky not to be awarded a try when the referee ruled the ball held up but showed a little inexperience from the resulting 5m scrum where over eagerness caused them to concede a penalty for double movement.
The Royal Navy’s guard defence were working overtime as Georgia’s forwards relentlessly drove around the fringes. However they finally weathered the Georgia storm and eventually the siege was lifted. From their first meaningful foray in to the Georgia half the Royal Navy forced a penalty and the lead was extended to 18-7. Within seconds of the restart the Royal Navy were back up field with flanker Jarrad Hayler crossing for what he thought was the third try, only for the referee to rule obstruction. It did not prove to be much of a setback because it had reignited the Royal Navy’s fire and purpose regaining the directness that they had so briefly shown in the opening few minutes.
This time it was replacement fullback, Darren Bamford, who provided the impetus. Dave Fairbrother again contributed some good link work and Sam Davies was set free for what looked a certain try. He was denied by an illegal tackle which, after consultation with his assistant, saw the referee go under the posts to award a penalty try.
Form the restart the Royal Navy were in full flow and could have scored a couple more if the final pass had been more accurate and not gone to ground. When the fourth try did come, it came from an unlikely source. Georgia had looked secure in the scrum for most of the game but replacement scrum half, Cory Moore, put huge pressure on Georgia scrum half, Chendle, and forced the error. With the ball spilled Georgia desperately tried to re-gather possession but the ball ricocheted around until replacement prop, Joe Burton, tidied things up and crossed for a scrappy but precious try.
The Navy were unable to add to their score but the 32-7 victory did reflect their overall dominance particularly in the opening and closing stages of the match. However Georgia can be immensely proud of their performance in the Plate Final, easily their best of IDRC2015. They made the Royal Navy work for their win and a second try would have been a fair reflection for their contribution to an exciting match. For the Royal Navy the Plate Trophy secured at the end of a tournament where a number of younger players have shown some promise for the future and who will certainly aim to be at IDRC 2019 when it is hosted by Japan.
Kyle Mason, Ben Priddey (C), John Court, John Lamsin, Edd Pascoe, Ben Fox, Jarrad Hayler, Dave Fairbrother, Johnny Stephen, Richard Cadywould, Matt Bowden, Matt Tichias, Sam Davies, Greg Welling, Jon Humphrey
Replacements: Ian Cooper, Joe Burton, Josh Terry, Seta Raumakita, Cory Moore, Darren Bamford, Silvenuis Buinimasi, Tom Davies
Estatia, Sutizde, Bursaliani, Katsitadze, Tatulashvilli, Gnentsadze, Malsagishvilli, Mevikidze, Chendle, Dogonadze, Gulua, Gurabanidze, Giorgashvilli, Margiam, Kenia
Replacements: Kipshidze, Kharshiladze, Geradze, Zibzibadze, Batiatvi, Kacashvilli, Jafaridze, Chikoradze