Georgia makes rugby history by beating Italy 28-19
BATUMI, Georgia (AP) — Georgia beat a tier one team for the first time when it upset Italy 28-19 at Adjarabet Arena on Sunday.
The Georgians downed Italy at their fourth attempt before a crowd of 20,000 that lapped it up.
Georgia scored three tries, two by flyhalf Tedo Abzhandadze, to lead 19-13 at halftime, and stayed in front with penalties by Abzhandadze and replacement Gela Aprasidze. Combined, they converted only four of nine goalkicks.
Abzhandadze’s second penalty with two minutes left put Georgia out of reach and sealed the victory. He scored 20 of their 28 points.
“It’s a great day for Georgia, they deserved to win,” Italy coach Kieran Crowley said.
“We struggled to play more than two consecutive phases. They dominated us at the breakdown. We had some execution problems that our opponents didn’t have.”
Italy, on a three-win streak for the first time in 10 years, couldn’t overcome the physical impact of the Lelos, and was shaky under the high ball.
The Lelos weathered a strong Italy start to score the first points, a try by wing Alexander Todua from a grubber kick by scrumhalf Vasil Lobzhanidze.
Abzhandadze converted his own try to have Georgia 12-0 up until Italy wing Tommaso Menoncello dotted down. Tommaso Allan converted that and added two penalties to put Italy ahead 13-12.
Then wing Aka Tabutsadze counterattacked brilliantly from deep to the Italy tryline, and Abzhandadze eventually scored between the posts. Georgia had the lead back by halftime and an extra man after Italy back-rower Toa Halafihi was sin-binned.
Allan rewarded Italy’s strong though error-prone start with a penalty, but an Italy offside was punished by Abzhandadze to restore a six-point lead.
More penalties were traded but Georgia’s pressure up front was relentless and Abzhandadze’s last goalkick snuffed out Italy’s last hope.
More AP rugby: https://apnews.com/hub/rugby and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports