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Louis Rees-Zammit claims hat-trick of tries as Wales top Pool C

By PA
Louis Rees-Zammit sails through the air - PA

Wales won their Rugby World Cup group and maintained an unbeaten march to the quarter-finals after beating Georgia 43-19 at Stade de la Beaujoire.

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Warren Gatland’s team needed one point to finish top of Pool C after securing a last-eight place almost two weeks ago by defeating Australia in record-breaking fashion.

And they accomplished it on the same ground that 16 years ago Fiji condemned them to a World Cup pool-stage exit.

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Wing Louis Rees-Zammit scored three tries, while there were also touchdowns for prop Tomas Francis, full-back Liam Williams and centre George North.

Wales ensured there would be no repeat of Georgia’s shock 13-12 success in Cardiff during the 2022 autumn Tests as they overcame fly-half Gareth Anscombe’s withdrawal just 45 minutes before kick-off due to a groin injury.

Anscombe’s late replacement Sam Costelow kicked five conversions and a penalty, although Georgia fought back to 24-19 adrift at one point through tries from Merab Sharikadze, Vano Karkadze and Davit Niniashvili, with Luka Matkava kicking two conversions.

A protracted mass brawl late in the game that spilled over the touchline and involved replacements from both sides saw Niniashvili and Wales substitute Taine Basham yellow-carded.

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Wales were home and dry by this stage, although there was more injury concern when number eight Taulupe Faletau went off nursing what appeared to be a wrist problem.

Costelow mixed his running and kicking game well in the early stages, but Wales could get no change out of a well-organised Georgia defence.

There were plenty of errors in perfect playing conditions from both sides, but Wales broke the deadlock after 16 minutes.

A powerful lineout drive put Georgia on the back-foot, before Tomos Williams’ short inside pass resulted in Francis going over for a try that Costelow converted.

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Wales had settled into a rhythm, and they struck from another attacking lineout just seven minutes later.

22m Entries

Avg. Points Scored
4.4
9
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Avg. Points Scored
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8
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Lock Will Rowlands secured quality possession and, when the ball was moved wide Liam Williams finished impressively. Costelow’s conversion made it 14-0.

A Costelow penalty then opened up a 17-point advantage, and Wales appeared to be well on their way to a fourth successive pool victory.

Georgia regrouped as the first-half drew to a close, and Sharikadze claimed a try that Matkava converted following a sustained spell of pressure.

It was a warning for Wales that they could not switch off as they took a 17-7 lead into the interval.

Georgia began the second period on the front foot, but a midfield fumble saw North find Rees-Zammit, and the Gloucester speedster cruised clear from 60 metres out to claim his third try of the tournament.

Costelow converted, and it was exactly what Wales required after Georgia had threatened a fightback before the break.

Gatland changed the entire front row after 50 minutes, with Nicky Smith, Elliot Dee and Henry Thomas all joining the action.

And while Wales were comfortably ahead, Georgia kept searching for attacking opportunities in their final game of the competition after defeats against Australia and Fiji and a draw with Portugal.

Their resilience was then rewarded with 20 minutes left when replacement hooker Karkadze went over and Matkava converted.

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And Georgia immediately conjured a third try, this time from Niniashvili, making it 24-18 and giving Wales plenty to be concerned about.

Gatland’s team were in danger of unravelling, but just when they needed it, Rees-Zammit applied a brilliant finish for his second try which Costelow converted, making it 31-19.

Biggar joined the action deep into the final quarter, and when Rees-Zammit claimed his hat-trick try, Wales were home before North’s try – and Wales’ sixth – completed the scoring, with Japan or Argentina now awaiting as their quarter-final opponents.

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Shaylen 4 hours ago
Ireland and South Africa share the same player development dilemma

These guys will be utility players Nick it cannot be helped because coaches cannot help themselves. Rassie looks at players like these and sees the ability to cover multiple positions without losing much. It allows the 6-2 or 7-1. He wont change his coaching style or strategy for one player. At provincial level players like these are indispensable. If there is an injury to your starting 12 but your back up 12 is a bit iffy then a coach is going to go with the back up 10 who is gold and who can play a good 12. Damian Willemse for the Springboks is an obvious case, for the Stormers its the same. Dobson plays him at 12 or 15, with Gelant in the team he plays 12 but if Gelant goes down he doesnt go for his back up 15, he just puts Willemse there. With Frawley its the same at international and provincial level. He just slots in wherever. Frans Steyn made a career out of it. He was much maligned though as a youngster as he never fully developed into any role. He then went to Japan and France to decide for himself what kind of player he was, put on muscle and retained his big boot, ran over players and booted the ball long and came back into the Springboks after about 3 years away and was then certain about how he wanted to play the game no matter what position. Coaches cannot help themselves because they only want what is best for their teams and that means putting your most talented players on even if it means you cause them some discomfort. Sometimes players need to decide how they want to play the game and then adapt that to every position and let the coach decide how they want to use them.

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J
Jon 10 hours ago
Ireland and South Africa share the same player development dilemma

I think the main problem here is the structure of both countries make up. They are going to have very similar.. obstacles(not problems). It will just be part of the evolution of their rugby and they’ll need to find a way to make this versatility more advantageous than specialization. I think South Africa are well on the way to that end already, but Ireland are more likely to have a hierarchical approach and move players around the provinces. Ioane is going to be more than good enough to lock up one of those available positions for more than a few years I believe though. Morgan would definitely be a more long term outlook. Sacha to me has the natural footwork of a second five. Not everything is about winning, if a team has 3 players that want to play 10s just give them all a good go even if its to the detriment of everyone, this is also about dreams of the players, not just the fans. This is exactly how it would be in an amateur club setting. Ultimately some players just aren’t suited to any one position. The example was of a guy that had size and speed, enough pace to burn, power to drive, and speed to kick and pass long, but just not much else when it came to actual rugby (that matched it). New Zealand has it’s own example with Jordie Barrett and probably shows what Reece Hodge could have been if the game in Australia had any administration. Despite the bigger abundance of talent in NZ, Jordie was provided with consistent time as a fullback, before being ushered in as a second five. Possibly this was due to his blood, and another might not have been as fortunate, but it is what it was, a complete contrast to how Hodge was used in Australia, were he could have had any position he wanted. When it comes down to it though, much like these young fellas, it will be about what they want, and I think you’ll find they’ll be like Hodge and just want to be as valuable to the team as they can and play wherever. It’s not like 63 International Cap is a hard thing to live with as a result of that decision!

36 Go to comments
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FEATURE Ireland and South Africa share the same player development dilemma Ireland and South Africa share the same player development dilemma
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