Merab Kvirikashvili Wins US Rugby Match for Georgia

Georgia Rugby Squad Training
15 November 2014; Georgia's Merab Kvirikashvili in action during squad training ahead of their Guinness Series game against Ireland on Sunday. Georgia Rugby Squad Training, Aviva Stadium, Lansdowne Road, Dublin. Picture credit: Matt Browne / SPORTSFILE (Photo by Sportsfile/Corbis via Getty Images)

Last Word on Rugby, by Josh Bradham.

Georgian Fullback Merab Kvirikashvili scored all of Georgia’s point with the exception of a penalty try.

Georgia played a powerful defensive game that was driven by their scrum. Merab Kvirikashvili had a very strong performance, in helping his side to a 17-21 victory at the Fifth Third Bank Stadium, in Kenneshaw, Georgia.

In a sublime display, Kvirikashvili  was four from six in place kicking, and was also responsible for Georgia’s only attacking try of the day. The ‘man of the match’ display helped his team to a significant offshore victory over the Eagles.

The Georgian scrum was a dominating force in their performance against the USA Eagles. The first two scrums from the Eagles were very good. Following that, Chris Baumann began to have difficulties keep up his side of the scrum. He began collapsing against Montpellier’s Mikheil Nariashvili.

That collapsing scrum behaviour became bad enough that at the end of the first half, Georgia received a penalty try from a Baumann collapsed scrum. Baumann is usually a very competent prop, and left the field later in the game. With that seven pointer, the fans had little to cheer for.

The second half for Georgia was much less impressive as the Eagles began finding holes in the defense. Once the Eagles got well into the second half, they began to build phases. That then that allowed Nate Augspurger space out wide to score for the Eagles.

At the conclusion of the match, Georgia captain Merab Sharikadze had concerns after their second half performance. “First half we were winning 18-3, and in the second half we almost lost the game. We can’t do that. We were lucky that we did not lose that game.”

Eagles Play Erratic in First Half, but Improved by Full Time

The early match was an absolute nightmare for the Eagles. There were penalties at an extremely frequent rate.The first two scrums by the Eagles were very good, solid actually. Once Baumann began having difficulties, it resulted in the Eagles collapsing scrums at an alarming rate. John Mitchell commented;

“The Scrum was good in the beginning, but became a costly factor on the back end of the first half.”

His words were echoed by Eagles replacement player Matt Jensen. “I think we’re going to be looking at a lot of the film on the scrums and see how we can fix that set piece. That’s an area of the game that if you can dominate you can win any game.”

The Eagles attack during the first half was not able to find holes in the powerful Georgian defense. The positive use of the kick did provide good field position for the Eagles, which allowed AJ MacGinty the chance to put Eagles first points on the board.

AJ MacGinty of United States kicks a penalty. (Photo Lachlan Cunningham/Getty Images)

US Rugby Can Still Take Positives From Loss to Georgia

The start of the second half was very similar to the first, with the USA playing very sloppy ball. It was not nearly the best rugby the Eagles have played. But fortunately, the match began to change as the second half went on.

That started with the Augspurger try. The most impressive point of the day was when second rower Matt Jensen broke loose into the Georgian back field, and could not be caught before he got in goal and pulled the Eagles within four.

The Eagles ‘came on’ late, but the time was not on their side. They were not able to put together enough points to win the match [19-21]. The Eagles were very confident of their second half performance though, looking forward to Canada. Last Word on Rugby gained comments from try scorer Matt Jensen.

“I think we can definitely finish a game and play all 80 minutes.There were parts of the game we need to take in control and I think we did during the second half, but it was just a little bit to late.”

If any positive aspects of the match can be drawn, head coach John Mitchell told LWOR “Just the fact that we were able to put tempo on the game.

“We were able to control possession where in the first half we gave away possession.”

USA 17 – Tries: Augspurger, Jensen; Conversions: MacGinty (2); Penalties: MacGinty

Georgia 21 – Tries: Kvirikashvili, Penalty try; Penalties: Kvirikashvili (3)


The United States Eagles now enter a two game program with Canada, in crucial Rugby World Cup qualification matches.

Join Last Word on Rugby as we follow the action. Next game: Saturday, June 24. Tim Hortons Field, California

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