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Koshadze Shines in Georgia’s Rout of Germany

Afew weeks after celebrating his 21st birthday and in front of joyous home crowd, center Giorgi Koshadze demonstrated his vast potential by scoring two tries – and laying on another – in Georgia’s 50-6 demolition of Germany in the Rugby Europe Championship in a sunny Rustavi on February 19.

Koshadze only made his debut for the national side last November in the gritty win over Samoa in Tbilisi, but is already staking a claim to be a regular starter for Milton Haig’s Lelos.

He notched his first try for his country in the previous week’s victory in Belgium, only his second cap, and his upward trajectory continued in in familiar surroundings, given that he plays his club rugby for Rustavi Kharebi.

Germany travelled to Georgia on a wave of positivity after a sensational win over Romania in the tournament’s opening weekend, but those good vibrations were quickly forgotten as the Georgians roared into an early lead.

Fly-half Revaz Jinchvelashvili launched a mischievous chip-kick behind the German defence and before the visitors knew what was happening, the outstanding Koshadze snatched the ball before racing between the posts for a superb opening score after little more than two minutes.

Merab Kvirikiashvili, making his 100th appearance for Georgia, completed the simple task of converting to give the hosts a 7-0 advantage.

The veteran full-back then endured a slightly forgettable moment as his kick was charged down by the on-rushing Germans who would eventually win a penalty, kicked by fly-half Raynor Parkinson in the 8th minute.

The Lelos however soon added to their tally in the 17th minute after a spell of concerted pressure five meters from the German line, and when the ball was swung to the right, wing Giorgi Pruidze was waiting by the corner to touch down.

Kvirikashvili again dispatched the subsequent conversion, doubling Georgia’s lead to 14-3.

Though Georgia’s performance was, in the main, strong and fluid, there was the odd blunder, such as a handling error that led to Parkinson’s second successful penalty in the 27th minute, reducing the visitors’ deficit to eight.

But the Germans, playing in a city that was partly built by German prisoners of war, would get no closer.

In the 27th minute, Koshadze received the ball centimeters from the sideline before darting toward the German line, making a fool of Germany’s full-back Harris Aounallah with a clever dummy before touching down for his second score of the day.

Kvirikashvili’s conversion from long range and an acute angle steered Georgia into a 21-6 cushion.

There was to be no further scoring in the first-half which was prolonged by a nasty injury to hooker Badri Alkhazashvili who had to be lifted from the pitch on a stretcher.

After the interval, Georgia’s dominance grew more pronounced and in the 46th minute flanker Giorgi Tkhilaishvili powered his way across the line to secure a fourth try and bonus point, although Kvirikiashvili was this time denied by the post in his conversion attempt.

Ten minutes later, Georgia increased their advantage as number eight Beka Gorgadze jumped above the hapless Aounallah to notch a fifth score for the Lelos.

Kvirikashvili then missed a second conversion attempt in a row, leaving the Georgians with a 31-6 advantage and over a quarter of the game to play.

Gorgadze, also aged 21, would soon double his tally for the afternoon, but only after a determined run from the excellent Koshadze had presented him the opportunity.

A third consecutive miss followed from the misfiring Kvirikashvili but by now such details were trivial, with the outcome long beyond any doubt.

A second try of the afternoon ensued for Tkhilaishvili, with the flanker becoming the third Georgian to score a double, and this time Kvirikashvili made no mistake with the conversion, putting the Lelos into a 43-6 lead.

Just as it appeared that Germany might score a try of their own in the closing stages, the Georgian defence held firm before experienced center and captain Merab Sharikadze raced away to register an eighth and final score, duly converted by Lasha Malaguradze to round off the scoring.

Next up for Georgia is a trip to Spain on March 4 before they welcome neighbors Russia to Tbilisi on March 12, a match for which tickets are already on sale.

Alastair Watt

23 February 2017 22:01