Scotland 33-6 Georgia: Hosts recover to win final World Cup warm-up match

Rory Darge scores a try for Scotland against Georgia
Rory Darge's try gave Scotland some daylight against Georgia

Summer Test

Scotland (0) 33

Tries: Van der Merwe 2, Darge, Dempsey, Steyn Con: Russell 2, Healy 2

Georgia (6) 6

Pens: Matkava 2

Scotland recovered from a poor first-half display to round off their World Cup preparations with victory over a spirited Georgia side.

A dismal opening 40 minutes had the Scots trailing 6-0 at half-time courtesy of two Luka Matkava penalties.

The home side were much improved after the break and scored tries through Duhan van der Merve (2), Rory Darge, Jack Dempsey and Kyle Steyn.

Scotland face defending champions South Africa on 10 September.

With home wins against Italy and France and a creditable display in defeat against Les Blues in Saint Etienne, Scotland's pre-tournament performances had hinted that Gregor Townsend's side were bubbling up nicely.

He resisted the temptation to rest key players, stressing the importance of getting his team match fit and battle hardened before the showdown with the Springboks in Marseille.

They looked anything but in a horribly disjointed opening 20 minutes, miles off the pace, and Matkava knocked over two penalties, the least they deserved such was their superiority in that first quarter.

It took 27 minutes for Scotland to engineer their first visit to the Georgian 22 and when they got there they were met with some ferocious defence.

Steyn, a late replacement for the injured Darcy Graham, looked most likely to spark some life into the misfiring Scottish attack with a couple of excellent breaks and he did manage to get himself over in the corner, but replays showed he had failed to ground the ball properly and the try was ruled out.

Perhaps most worrying for the home side was the Georgians' ability to repeatedly slow Scottish ball and whether it was a tactical rethink, some personnel changes or a good old fashioned rocket from the coaches, something had to change at half-time.

The Scots emerged from the break and at long last started showed some intent and intensity. Finn Russell, anonymous by his standards in the opening 40, looked like he had decided to take a hold of proceedings. A couple of gorgeous touches led up to Van der Merwe's try, when Russell's exquisite kick-pass dropped into the grateful arms of the winger to go over for his 19th Test try.

Having broken out of the prison of their own mediocrity, Scotland quickly stepped on the gas. Van der Merwe burst into the line and was hauled down just short. A couple of phases later, Darge was on hand to dive over.

To the relief of everyone in Murrayfield, Russell was removed from the action unscathed but his departure did not halt the Scottish momentum, Dempsey blasting over from close range for try number three.

With the Georgian resistance all but broken, Dempsey dragged himself to the brink of the line with defenders hanging off him and while he was stopped inches short, Steyn was there to dot down.

Van der Merwe added some gloss to the scoreline with Scotland's fifth try, his second of the match, after a lovely floated pass from substitute Ben Healy. Try number 20 for Scotland, which takes Van der Merwe within seven of Stuart Hogg's record tally.

An ultimately comfortable victory and with no obvious injury concerns, it was a case of job done for Scotland. However, fail to emerge from the blocks against the Springboks as they did in the opening 40 here and Scottish fans will be watching the World Cup opener through the cracks in their fingers.

Scotland captain Jamie Ritchie told Amazon Prime: "We expected them to come out pretty hot in the first half. They're not a bad side - they've won 12 of their last 13 Test matches I think, and have beaten Tier One opposition, so we knew it would be tough.

"I'm proud of how we took it to them in the second. I think we were in a little bit of a rush [in the first half]. I spoke about being patient before the game, and I don't think we quite got that right. We have to be right up there physically [against South Africa]. We'll be looking to take them on with how we play."

Scotland winger Duhan van der Merwe told Amazon Prime: "Especially first half, Georgia made it really tough for us. They were really physical and put us under pressure.

"It was important for us to squeeze them up a bit - if our forwards get gain-line then it's much easier for our backs to go wide. We can take confidence from the second half. It's two walk-ins, but I'll take that."

Scotland: Smith, Steyn, Jones, Tuipulotu, Van der Merwe, Russell, White; Bhatti, Cherry, Nel, Skinner, Gilchrist, Ritchie (capt), Darge, Dempsey.

Replacements: Ashman, Sutherland, Sebastian, Cummings, M Fagerson, Horne, Healy, Harris.

Georgia: Niniashvili, Tabutadze, Tapladze, Sharikadze (capt), Modebadze, Matkava, Lobzhanidze; Nariashvili, Mamukashvili, Gigashvili, Chachanidze, Mikautadze, Ivanishvili, Gachechiladze, Jalaghonia.

Replacements: Zamtaradze, Gogiohashvili, Papidze, Jaiani, Mamamtavrishvili, Aprasideze, Abzhandadze, Kveseladze.

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