WAL 43-19 GEO: Rees-Zammit does the trick for Wales

WAL 43-19 GEO: Rees-Zammit does the trick for Wales

Unbeaten Wales go through to quarter-finals as Pool C winners after a bonus-point 43-19 win over Georgia at Stade de la Beaujoire on Saturday, 7 October. 

Winger Louis Rees-Zammit scored a crucial second-half hat-trick as Wales beat Georgia 43-19 to finish top of Pool C at Stade de la Beaujoire in Nantes.

Prop Tomas Francis and full-back Liam Williams crossed from close range in the opening 25 minutes, but captain Merab Sharikadze forced his way over to reduce Georgia’s deficit to 17-7 at half-time.

Rees-Zammit increased the lead when he raced home from the halfway line, but Georgia struck back through replacement prop Vano Karkadze and a fine effort from wing Davit Niniashvili to get within five points.

But Rees-Zammit settled Welsh nerves when he collected a chip from Williams to dive over in the corner, before completing his hat-trick when he was judged to have touched down after another chase. George North added Wales’ sixth on the stroke off full-time.

Tommy Reffell, the Mastercard Player of the Match admitted it had been a bruising encounter, saying: "I'm sore after that one. We knew what to expect with Georgia, they had that win against us at the Principality Stadium in the last year so we knew what they were going to bring with that physicality. We really had to up it today, scrum, maul. We also knew they could play out the back a lot better than what they showed. So they had threats all over the park and it was up to us to shut them down."

Wales captain Dewi Lake said: "We spoke in the week about being quite ruthless. We dropped off a bit at the end of the first half and the start of the second half, Georgia came back at us. We spoke about them being a proud nation, they were never going to go away quietly.

"We picked it up in the final 20 and we scored some nice tries and played some nice rugby. We'll definitely work on the middle 20 minutes, not having that drop-off in energy, when we've got a team on the ropes, to keep them there."

Wales head coach Warren Gatland said about Gareth Anscombe's injury in the warm-up: "He just got a bit of a tight groin, high on the groin, maybe just a little tweak so we will have to get that checked out."

Dan Biggar came on to the replacements' bench and Gatland added: "We did talk about bringing Dan on but he was under a bit of an injury cloud as well, so it was good for young Sam Costelow to play 80 minutes and get through that and thrown in the deep end right at the start of the game. We're pleased for him to get a run too."

Georgia head coach Levan Maisashvili was pleased with the way his side fought back against Wales but was disappointed that his team failed to win any of pool games. He said: "We played against one of the strongest teams, that’s why they are first in the pool.

"We played good rugby. We did come back in the second half but we lost against one of the strongest teams.

"I’m a little bit disappointed because we didn’t achieve our target, what was our goal. Results are not what we want, but we played every game and never gave up."

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