Australia see off Georgia in Paris but labour to late bonus-point

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Australia 35-15 Georgia: Wallabies labour to late bonus-point win in their Rugby World Cup opener

Full-back Ben Donaldson registered two tries, two conversions and three penalties in Australia Rugby World Cup win over Georgia at Stade de France, after early Jordan Petaia and Mark Nawaqanitawase tries; the Wallabies didn’t bank the try bonus-point until 11 minutes to go vs Los Lelos

Last Updated: 09/09/23 7:32pm

Wallabies full-back Ben Donaldson notched three penalties, two conversions and two tries as Australia beat Georgia

Wallabies full-back Ben Donaldson notched three penalties, two conversions and two tries as Australia beat Georgia

Eddie Jones’ Australia got their 2023 Rugby World Cup Pool C campaign off to a winning start, but remain in need of much improvement after a 35-15 win over minnows Georgia at the Stade de France.

The Wallabies scored early tries through outside-centre Jordan Petaia and wing Mark Nawaqanitawase, before full-back Ben Donaldson added three penalties for an 18-3 half-time lead.

Georgia had registered a Luka Matkava penalty, and managed to carve out two tries in the second period through openside flanker Luka Ivanishvili and prop Beka Gigashvili, either side of a Donaldson brace of tries for Australia to make sure of victory, though the Aussies only made sure of the try bonus-point with 11 minutes left.

Australia – Tries: Petaia (2), Nawaqanitawase (9), Donaldson (56, 69). Cons: Donaldson (11, 57, 70). Pens: Donaldson (14, 21, 31).

Georgia – Tries: Ivanishvili (47). Pens: Matkava (6).

Donaldson scooped the player of the match award in a standout display

Donaldson scooped the player of the match award in a standout display

Although the Stade de France atmosphere was always going to be subdued compared to Friday’s opening night party when the hosts beat the All Blacks, Australia contributed by quickly stifling any chance of the upset the majority of the 75,770 crowd wanted.

Centre Petaia wriggled across the line in the second minute and made the break to send winger Nawaqanitawase in for another try seven minutes later before Donaldson took over from the kicking tee to keep the scoreboard ticking over.

Centre Jordan Petaia scored the opening try of the Test in just the second minute

Centre Jordan Petaia scored the opening try of the Test in just the second minute

The Georgians, pinned into their own half by the Australian kicking, were becoming frustrated and left winger Mirian Modebadze was shown a yellow card just before halftime.

The Lelos came out with renewed purpose after the break and, still down to 14 men, cut the deficit to 21-8 when flyhalf Luka Matkava fired a looping pass out to flanker Ivanishvili on the left wing.

Livewire Australia wing Mark Nawaqanitawase scored their second try in the contest

Livewire Australia wing Mark Nawaqanitawase scored their second try in the contest

Georgia fullback Davit Niniashvili finally got room to run in the 56th minute but his wild pass backwards found only Taniela Tupou and the Australia prop’s neat offload sent Donaldson over for his first try.

Australia were still struggling to find their tempo in the stifling heat but flyhalf Carter Gordon summoned up a superb long pass to allow Donaldson to skip through a big gap and secure the bonus point.

The Georgians kept battling but Nawaqanitawase produced a stunning try-saving tackle to deny winger Akaki Tabutsadze before replacement prop Gigashvili bulldozed his way over from close range in the dying seconds.

Georgia prop Beka Gigashvili scored one of their two tries in a promising performance

Georgia prop Beka Gigashvili scored one of their two tries in a promising performance

What’s next?

Australia next face Fiji on Sunday September 17, in their second Rugby World Cup Pool C clash, at the Stade Geoffroy-Guichard in Saint-Etienne (4.45pm kick off BST).

Georgia are next in action vs Portugal on Saturday September 23, for their second Rugby World Cup Pool C clash, at Stadium de Toulouse (1pm kick off BST).

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