defeats Serbia in World Cup Qualifier

Saturday 13 May 2006

Georgian Rugby League has a new hero as Merab Kuirikashvili grabbed three tries and six goals for a 24 point haul in a hugely entertaining encounter in gloriously sunny Belgrade.

The classy stand off was at the heart of his side?s best work in a match in which the visitor?s superior strength and pace was a decisive factor over a gusty Serbian outfit.

The final score line did not reflect the amount of possession the Serbs enjoyed but highlighted the better strike power of the Georgian attack.

The Georgians only failed to score in the opening set of the match when a poor final pass went to ground but that was only temporary respite as Kuirikashvili began his solo demolition with a try on the blind side from close in. He added the conversion and five minutes later extended the lead by a point with a field goal on a last tackle play.

For the next 20 minutes the Georgians found themselves under pressure from the well marshalled hosts, with Jovan Vujosevic and Halifax?s Luka Simeunovic calling the shots, the latter popping up a superb pass for Tomic Nenad to crash on to and flatfoot the Georgian defence; Dalibor Vukanovic adding the conversion.

That sparked a Georgian revival and almost immediately Kurikashvili again demonstrated his class by sidestepping over from 15 metres. Just before half-time, Georgia extended their lead when substitute George Nemsadze powered over from a superb pass by Kakhaber Kobakhidze.

Serbia started the second half brightly but an excellent angled run from linking full back George Asatiani extended the visitors lead. More concerted home pressure failed to break the Georgian defensive cordon and on the hour they countered superbly when Pridon Udesiani was on the end of an overlap on the right.

Two minutes later winger Lexo Gugava, picked up a loose Serbian pass and raced 70 metres to extend the lead; Kurikashvili potting the easy conversion. By now Georgia were in full flow and an overlap on the right allowed Gugava to pick up a simple second converted try.

The Serbs finally gained due reward for their toiling efforts with the score of the game, ten pairs of hands keeping the ball alive in thrilling fashion for Zoran Pesic to claim the spoils. The final word was left to the star of the show as Kuirikashvili opened up the defence and swerved majestically around Vukanovic to claim his hat trick and his side?s eighth try.

Watching RFL Performance Director, Graeme Thompson, commented, "I watched the corresponding fixture last year in Georgia and I am very impressed by the progress made by both nations.?

?They demonstrated that they are appreciating further technical and tactical aspects of the game and in time could challenge more mature nations.?

The next match in the group sees Georgia host Holland in Tbilisi on Friday 26th May.

GAME STAR ? Georgian play maker Merab Kuirikashvili showed that he could be a real force in the sport with a stunning hat trick.
GAME BREAKER - George Asatiani?s touchdown in the 48th minute took the steam out of the Serb?s commendable fight

1. Dalibor Vukanovic
2. Dimitris Daly
3. Nenad Tomic
4. Milan Dordevic
5. Zoran Pesic
6. Luka Simeunovic
7. Mate Granvic
8. Radoslav Novakovic
9. Jovan Vujosevic
10 Mario Milosavljevic
11. Marko Jankovic
12. David Milovanovic
13. Marko Zebeljan
Subs (all used)
14. Valcic Radovan
15. Milos Milinkovic
16. Soni Radvanovic
17. Darko Nerandzic
Tries: Tomic (27), Pesic (71)
Goal: Vukanovic

1. George Asatiani
2. Lexo Gugava
3. Manughar Namchevadze
4. Alexandre Gilauri
5. Zviadi Koberidze
6. Merab Kuirikashvili
7. George Sordia
8. Tornike Ashvetia
9. Beqa Kurashvili
10. George Khositashvili
11. Nikoloz Mkheidze
12. Shalva Sutiashivili
13. Kakhaber Kobakhidze
Subs (all used)
14. Pridon Udesiani
15. Vakhtang Akhvlediani
16. Roin Chikvaidze
17. George Nemsadze
Tries: Kuirikashvili (2, 30, 78), Nemsadze (37), Asatiani (48), Udesiani (60), Gugava (62, 67)
Goals: Kuirikashvili 6
F/goal: Kuirikashvili

Men of the match:
SERBIA - Luka Simeunovic
GEORGIA - Merab Kuirikashvili

Half time: 6-19
Referee: Matthew Kidd (England)


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