Sunday, 18 September 2011

England withstood a spirited Georgian assault to end a troubled week with a 41-10 Pool B victory in the Rugby World Cup on Sunday.
Shontayne Hape scored his first two international tries to put England ahead at the interval but it was Georgia who had bossed the first half.
The Lelos scored a deserved try through number eight Dimitri Basilaia but they could not punish England's poor discipline.
Fly-half Merab Kvirikashvili missed five penalties which saved England from staring down the barrel of a potentially embarrassing defeat.
Instead, England upped the urgency after half time and sealed a six-try victory - and the bonus point - with scores from Delon Armitage, Manu Tuilagi and two from Chris Ashton.
England's preparation week at the adventure resort of Queenstown created back-page headlines with the loss of Andrew Sheridan to a tournament-ending injury and Courtney Lawes to suspension and the decision of some players to go bungee-jumping.
Martin Johnson's men then found themselves splashed across the front pages with reports of their antics on a night out in a Queenstown bar.
Lurid speculation over the content of some grainy CCTV footage followed. For everyone in the red rose camp, it was time for some rugby to break out.
England were forced into a late change after number eight Nick Easter was withdrawn with a sore back.
James Haskell was promoted into a starting line-up that included returning captain Lewis Moody, who was back in action after recovering from a knee injury.
England raced a fourth-minute lead with an opportunistic try from Hape, who picked from the base of a ruck on halfway and surged through a gaping hole in the Georgian defence.
Georgia came close to an immediate response when Ben Youngs, under immense pressure, spilled the ball at the base of an England scrum and the Lelos moved it wide to Irakli Machkhaneli.
The Georgian wing was tackled into touch by Ashton as he dived for the corner and the television match official Shaun Veldsman confirmed it was not a try.
But it was a signal of intent from Georgia, who spent 75 per cent of the first half in England territory and for the second week running Martin Johnson's men struggled to keep their discipline.
England conceded 11 first-half penalties but Kvirikashvili missed his first three shots at goal.
When England finally relieved the pressure with a break from Armitage, they turned it into points.
Ashton exchanged passes with Flood but was hauled down short of the line.
England recycled quickly and moved play right, where Hape jinked past his man to score his second try, which Flood converted.
That move was the only time in the first half that England enjoyed any possession inside the opposition 22. Georgia, by contrast, were camped in England's so-called red zone for nearly nine minutes.
Kvirikashvili finally succeeded with his fourth penalty attempt, which was scant reward for the territorial dominance they enjoyed in the first half.
Flood did extend England's lead after Georgia had been penalised at the scrum but the Lelos finally earned just reward for their first-half dominance.
Dylan Hartley was sin-binned for hands in the ruck as England mounted a desperate goal-line defence.
Georgia took the scrum against England's six-man unit and number eight Basilaia charged over next to the posts to score, handing Kvirikashvili a simple conversion.
England came out after the interval with greater urgency and that almost resulted in a try after a strong midfield carry from Hape.
Armitage, like Machkaneli in the first half, was tackled into touch as he reached for the line but England soon came again with a powerful run from Haskell.
England won a penalty, went for touch and drove the lineout before moving the ball wide through Flood, Hape and Ben Foden before Armitage stepped back inside to beat the last defender and score.
Kvirikashvili missed two more penalty attempts before England wrapped up the win and the bonus point.
Tom Croft won clean lineout ball in the Georgian 22 and Tuilagi crashed through the red defensive line to score his third try in four Tests.
The game began to open up for England and Tom Wood broke through a tired Georgian defence before feeding Ashton, who streaked clear and scored under the posts with his trademark swallow dive.
Foden thought he had scored but play was brought back for a forward pass - but Ashton touched down for England's sixth try with the final play of the game after a strong five-metre scrum.

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