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Round 3 Review - Georgia and Portugal remain unbeaten

Georgia and Portugal topped Pool A and Pool B in the Rugby Europe Championship after they made it three wins from three over the weekend.

It means they will now play Romania and Spain respectively over the first weekend of March in the semi-finals in a bid to make it to the Grand Final on March 19 in Badajoz, Spain.

On Saturday in the Estadio El Malecon, Torrelavega, Georgia were just too good for hosts Spain who, as a result of a 41-3 reverse, finished second in Pool A.

Georgia got off to the perfect start in the opening minutes, stand-off Tedo Abzhandadze’s great kick setting up master try scorer Akaki Tabutsadze for a five pointer.

A brilliant long-range penalty from Spain stand-off Gonzalo Vinuesa got them onto the scoreboard before Tabutsadze went over again for the visitors. Abzhandadze could not convert, but it was 10-3 after a frantic opening 10 minutes.

It took until the 24th minute for the next points to come, a lineout drive seeing tighthead prop Beka Gigashvili crashing over.

Abzhandadze ran a great angle just before half-time to give Georgia their bonus point try, the same man converting for 22-3 after 40 minutes.

In the 48th minute skipper Merab Sharikadze scored a cracking try too and it was converted.

The final 12 points for Georgia came through a try by Aleksandre Todua, a try by Davit Niniashvili and a conversion from replacement Luka Matkava.

Both sides had players yellow carded in the second half and it finished 41-3.

Georgia head coach Levan Maisashvili said:  “We are happy, we achieved our goal of a bonus point win and we scored some good tries.”

Spain head coach Santiago Santos said:  “We are not happy, Georgia were much better than us in this game. They were better in all areas, we had some opportunities, but we were wasteful when we had chances.”

On Sunday in the Estádio do Restelo in Lisbon, Portugal made sure of topping Pool B by defeating Romania, who finished in second, 38-20.

Romania got off to a flyer when Taylor Gontineac, the centre, went over for a try with full-back Paul Popoaia converting.

Portugal levelled things up five minutes later when centre Pedro Bettencourt ran a great line to go over. Nuno Sousa Guedes, the full-back, converted and it was 7-7.




Popoaia’s penalty made it 10-7 to the visitors soon after before, in the 13th minute, Portugal’s second converted try came after the ball went loose in the dead ball area.

Romania then had a man yellow carded, but no points were scored while they were down to 14 and things remained 14-10 until half-time.

Sousa Guedes’ penalty made it 17-10 to the home side after 44 minutes before Portugal had a man yellow carded and a Romania three points closed the gap.

Jose Madeira, the Portugal second-row, scored Portugal’s third try when they were a man short and it was converted for 24-13.

Scrum-half Pedro Lucas then had the home supporters on their feet with his side’s bonus point try. It was converted and the home side were 31-13 up heading into the last quarter.

They did get a converted try from No.8 Cristi-Marian Chirica soon after to leave it as ‘game on’, but in the last few minutes Portugal made sure of the win.

Their final converted try came from replacement Duarte Diniz.

Portugal head coach Patrice Lagisquet said:  “I am very proud of the boys, it was a really good performance.”

Eugen Apjok, the Romania head coach, said:  “We have to keep building and moving forward and improving in a number of areas.”

Moving into the bottom half of both Pools, Netherlands defeated Germany 33-29 in a brilliant match on Saturday in Stadion Pichterich, Neckarsulm.

Centre David Weersma gave visitors Netherlands an early lead with a penalty and then added another to make it 6-0 after eight minutes.

In the 11th minute the Dutch team were in dreamland when a kick ahead bounced up nicely for them and Weersma collected to score. He converted and it was 13-0.

Just before the first quarter finished, a brilliant cross field kick put Felix Lammers in at the corner for an unconverted effort.

A penalty then came from their full-back Edoardo Stella, but Netherlands got up the other end and scored try number two through a strong lineout drive. Weersma converted and his team led 20-8.




He then kicked a penalty to give them a 15 point advantage, but Germany then scored a cracking try via scrum-half Oliver Paine. It was converted before another Weersma penalty made it 26-15 to them at the break.

Early in the second period Germany had a man yellow carded and Netherlands next try came two minutes later through a penalty try after a strong scrum.

In the 52nd minute centre Leo Wolf ran at a great angle to go over for a try for Germany and, nine minutes later, Stella’s penalty made it 33-23.

Two more penalties from him made it 33-29, but Netherlands held on as Germany took a losing bonus point.




Netherlands head coach Lyn Jones said:  “Germany kept themselves in the game and credit to them, but we played well in the first half which gave us a cushion.”

Germany head coach Mark Kuhlmann said:  “We have shown we can compete at this level, but we have to take our chances when they come along.”

And in Pool B, Poland finished third after a 21-15 triumph at home on Saturday versus Belgium.

In the Narodowy Stadion in Gdynia, Poland went ahead after three minutes through a penalty from full-back Wojciech Piotrowicz.

It got better for them when a strong forward drive saw tighthead prop

Zenon Szwagrzak power over for a try which could not be converted.

Belgium got their first points soon after via a penalty from stand-off Alan Williams.

The visitors suffered from a yellow card before half-time, but no more points were scored and it was a five point game at the interval.

Before the 50th minute mark Poland bagged their second try through captain Piotr Zeszutek after a lovely inside pass from his scrum-half Dawid Plichta. Piotrowicz converted and it was 15-3.

Belgium then lost a second man to the bin and a penalty for the hosts made it a 15 point lead heading into the final quarter.

A great finish by winger Dazzy Cornez made it 18-8 and gave Belgium a glimmer of hope, but two more penalties made it 21-8 to Poland after 78 minutes.

A late, late converted try for Belgium via replacement Victor Andre gave the visiting side a losing bonus point, but Poland held on.

This was Poland’s first ever win at this level while they also won the Stanislaw Maczek Trophy which is played for between the two nations.

Poland head coach Christian Hitt said:  “The guys showed real character and went for the whole 80 minutes. We will now reset ahead of the rest of the competition.”




Belgium captain Jens Torfs said:  “We need to work harder and we need to take things to the next level now going forward.”

These last two results mean that, in a fortnight, Netherlands will take on Belgium and Poland will host Germany in the rankings semi-finals.

They will then all be involved in Amsterdam on March 19 as fifth-eight places are finalised.

By Gary Heatly
Photos: Walter Degirolmo/FER Rugby, Jan Perlich, Dennis van de Sande Wojciech Szymański, Luis Cabelo

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