Georgia came from nine points down at half-time to beat Wales for the first time in a dramatic 13-12 Autumn Nations Series upset in Cardiff on Saturday.
Georgia replacement Luka Matkava landed a penalty two minutes from full-time, to secure a famous victory in a dress rehearsal for next year’s Rugby Union World Cup pool clash in France between the two countries.
“It’s amazing,” Georgia captain Merab Sharikadze told Prime Video.
“This is the second time we have beaten a Tier One nation this season (after Italy) and we have proved many people wrong.”
Earlier, Wales flanker Jac Morgan scored two tries as the hosts led 12-3 at the break.
But Georgia bounced back after Wales were temporarily reduced to 14 men early in the second half when Alex Cuthbert was sin-binned for an aerial challenge on Alexander Todua that saw the Georgia wing fall awkwardly.
Georgia pounced on Wales’ poor kicking game, with scrum-half Vasil Lobzhanidze only denied a try by fine defensive work from Josh Adams.
And while Wales’ play lacked creativity, the Lelos hit back with a well-worked try.
Todua went over unopposed on the left after he collected a fine cross-kick from fly-half Tedo Abzhandadze, who also landed the conversion to cut Wales’ lead to just 12-10 heading into the final quarter.
And with Georgia dominating up front, replacement stand-off Matkava, who’d only been on the field for a matter of minutes, landed the decisive penalty to complete a memorable comeback win.
‘It’s not nice’
“We didn’t come out second half, we were hoping to put a bit more tempo in to the game but all credit to Georgia they got the better of us especially at set-piece time,” said Wales captain Justin Tipuric.
“It’s not nice, first time to lose to them but they took their opportunities and came out on top.”
Scarlets back-row Josh Macleod made his Wales debut in a starting side showing six changes from the team that defeated Argentina 20-13 in Cardiff last weekend, with wing Josh Adams, fly-half Rhys Priestland and lock Ben Carter all included.
But it was Georgia, Wales’ opponents in a World Cup Pool C fixture in Nantes on October 7 next year, who took a second-minute lead via Abzhandadze’s penalty.
Full-back Davit Niniashvili then launched a thrilling counter-attack as Georgia made a lively start.
Wales eventually got into the game and began to exert pressure inside Georgia’s 22, with Cuthbert going close following two line-out drives that were well defended by the Lelos.
But Wales made their pressure count in the 20th minute when lock Adam Beard won a line-out and Morgan surged over for a try converted by Priestland as the hosts went 7-3 ahead.
And Morgan had his second try just three minutes later after a fine pass from scrum-half Tomos Williams.
Wales thought they had scored a third try eight minutes before half-time when Adams finished well after a kick and chase but Williams’ pass was ruled forward, with the hosts nine points ahead at the break.
But from then on it was all Georgia, long renowned for their scrum strength, and even though Abzhandadze missed a penalty, the Lelos — who have been knocking on the door of the Six Nations — were not to be denied.
Wales finish their Autumn programme next weekend at home to Australia, another of their World Cup pool opponents, with the Wallabies in action later this Saturday (November 19) against Ireland in Dublin.
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