Rugby World Cup 2003
Boks labour past Georgia
October 24, 2003
Danie Rossouw slides in to score against a plucky Georgia side
© Getty Images
South Africa bounced back from their defeat at the hands for England but they failed to impress despite a 46-19 triumph over Georgia. Another resilient defensive performance from the Europeans frustrated the Springboks and seven tries will not hide the many question marks over Rudolf Straeuli's side.
The Georgians were rewarded for their endeavours with their first ever World Cup try through hooker Dadunashvili. It was a performance so unconvincing it was scarcely believable as Georgia responded to the wholehearted backing of a 34,000 crowd.
Indeed 55 minutes in, the team which had given England so much trouble in Perth last week were down to 14 men and leading by just 13 points against opponents who nearly did not arrive at the competition because of a lack of funding. The Springboks, fielding a virtual second-string side, rarely found the momentum they were after as the committed Georgians played with the passion and tenacity required to take on one of the tournament's heavyweights.
However Paliko's joy was short-lived when he lost possession from the re-start which eventually led to South Africa's first try via 119kg flanker Danie Rossouw, who ran a perfect angle to sphere through a yawning gap near the line. After slotting a third minute penalty, Springbok fly-half Derick Hougaard converted the try from close range for a 10-3 lead to South Africa.
A great run by Springbok lock Bakkies Botha in the 18th minute gave his team enough momentum to go wide for Hougaard to slice through a gap and score his first Test try.
The relentless South African side kept the momentum going in the 22nd minute big when No.8 Joe Van Niekerk crashed over in the right corner after some great lead-up work by the Springbok backs. Hougaard converted from the touchline to push the score out to 24-3 in favour of the 'Boks.
Jimsheladze slotted the Georgians' second penalty goal in the 28th minute when the Springboks were again pinged for offside play. While the 24-6 scoreline in favour of the Springboks would indicate an effortless first-half, they were never allowed to slip into a pattern thanks to the commitment of the Georgians.
The floodgates threatened to open just after the break when Van Niekerk drew two defenders near the line to send Rossouw on a rampaging run to stretch out for his second try of the evening. Hougaard missed his first goal of the night and the Springboks held a comfortable 29-6 lead.
But the Georgians would continue their inspirational path through this game by adding a 43rd minute penalty goal and scoring their first World Cup try ever in the 54th minute. The try, which had the 34,308 crowd in raptures, came just after Springbok flanker Hendro Scholtz was sin binned for 10 minutes. From the ensuing line-out, the rolling maul was on and 21-year old hooker Dadunashvili would be the player to write his name in Georgian rugby folklore with the prized five-pointer. Jimsheladze converted the try and the Georgians were only 13 adrift of their more fancied opponents.
South Africa put the sealer on proceedings in the 58th minute when Hougaard put a fine kick in behind the Georgian defence for centre Jaque Fourie to score in the corner. The try gained the Springboks a bonus point from the match. Hougaard converted from touch to give the 'Boks a 36-16 lead.
The Georgians claimed another penalty goal, but it was the Africans who finished the stronger with tries to Botha in the 68th minute and Test debutant Schalk Burger in the 80th minute.
Fly-half Hougaard was the best of a sluggish Springbok side, with his vision and skill in the position proving vital to the South Africans' attack. His performance will no doubt put pressure on incumbent No.10 Louis Koen who has failed to shine so far in the tournament.
The Springboks' second placing in Pool C billing will only last a day or two if England defeats Samoa in Melbourne as expected on Saturday night. They will finish off the Pool rounds against the physical Samoans in Brisbane, while Georgia plays a virtual 'final' against fellow strugglers, Uruguay.
South Africa: 46