Rugby World Cup – Wales Made Georgia Pay
Wales were made to wait until Monday to get their World Cup campaign up and running and after watching on as the home nations served up a mixed bag of results, they were desperate to get down to work. Ireland beat Scotland in a match ridden with basic errors while England’s victory over Tonga was labelled lacklustre, having more in common with a warm-up than a World Cup opener.
That gave the number one ranked side in the world an opportunity to show what they are made of and lay down a marker of the competition ahead. Wales knew that in being the number one ranked side in the world, they were placed on a pedestal and would be shot at from all angles. Winning a Rugby World Cup match does wonders for a team’s confidence but beating the top-ranking side in the sport is that extra bit special.
Wales 1/25 Favourites for a Winning Start
Wales faced off against Georgia on Monday morning with the game getting started at 11.15am. The Pool D clash was shown live on ITV and the early betting suggesting the dragons need only turn up to secure the points. Wales wanted to win the match, of course, but they also wanted to put on a show in the process. England’s win over Tonga proved it’s not enough to simply beat lesser teams anymore, you must do it convincingly and with a bit of class that impresses both fans and neutrals.
The early betting had Wales as hot favourites and that came as no surprise to followers of Rugby Union. The dragons were no better than the 1/25 offered by 10Bet before the game. That looked tight, of course, but it was better than the 1/66 available with most other firms. Georgia was written off as 40/1 outsiders with some bookies and the draw wasn’t too likely either, carrying a hefty 80/1 price tag.
Those prices forced most looking for a morning betting interest into the specials markets and the handicap betting attracted the most attention. Wales started the game with minus 27 points and that was trading at even money. Not many teams end on the wrong side of a hammering in international rugby these days and that fact gave backers of Georgia +27 confidence, another bet available at even money. The handicap draw was 33/1 – top price offered by Unibet on the approach to kick-off.
How the Teams Lined Up
L Williams; North, Jonathan Davies, Parkes, Adams; Biggar, G Davies; Wyn Jones, Owens, Francis, Ball, Alun Wyn Jones, Wainwright, Tipuric, Navidi
Subs – Smith, Dee, Lewis, Shingler, Moriarty, T Williams, Patchell, Halfpenny
Matiashvili; Modebadze, Kacharava, Mchedlidze, Kveseladze; Abzhandadze, Lobzhanidze; Nariashvili, Mamukashvili, Gigashvili, Nemsadze, Mikautadze, Tkhilaishvili, M Gorgodze, B Gorgodze
Subs – Bregvadze, Gogichashvili, Chilachava, Sutiashvili, Saginadze, Giorgadze, Aprasidze, Khmaladze
Speaking to the press on the eve of the match, Wales coach Warren Gartland gave fans an idea of what to expect from the match. He was full of praise for his opponents and recognised them as a future Six Nations team full of running and promise so it was obvious he wouldn’t allow his players to get caught up in the pre-match predictions of an easy outing. Gartland wanted his players to be at their best against all opponents if they were to live up to the hype surrounding their number one ranking. Georgia coach Milton Haig asked the obvious question – why can’t his boys upset the odds? He acknowledged they would require their fair share of luck but believed in the ability around him and that served as a real rallying call to his players. Would it have the desired effect and help Georgia claim one of the biggest wins in their rugby playing history?
Wales Smash Georgia in Opener
The answer to that question was – no, of course not. Wales absolutely oozed class on-route to a big win over Georgia that was achieved thanks to a stunning six tries. The best-ranked side in the world took the game by the scruff of the neck and drove any ambition out of their opponents early at the City of Toyota Stadium going into Monday afternoon.
The scoreboard at the end of play read Wales 43-14 Georgia and Warren Gartland’s side proved they were head and shoulders above their opponents. Tries were scored by Davies, Tipuric, Adams, Williams and North. That was added to by conversions from Biggar (x4) and Halfpenny. Biggar also chipped in with a penalty to cap a fantastic day for him and his nation. Georgia was well beaten, as the scoreline suggests, but they did notch tries from Mamukashvili and Chilachava, both of which were converted by Abzhandadze.
Australia Next on Sunday
Despite the convincing nature of both the win and the final score, there was no rush to congratulate this Wales team who know they are capable of much better and will be required to show it as the competition progresses. The victors did enough to nail down a bonus point and against a hard-working opponent, that shouldn’t be overlooked. They were cheered on by around 15,000 Wales fans who loved what they saw.
The team will now enjoy a brief rest before turning their attentions to the small matter of playing Australia on Sunday. You can watch that match live on ITV from 8.45am and there’s plenty to bet on too. Wales are favourites to double up with a win over the Aussies and the betting offers 4/5 (bet365) on them doing as expected. That leaves the door open for value hunters to take a punt on the Oz victory at a handsome 11/10 with Ladbrokes.