Updated: Nov 25, 2020
The pressure on Pivac's welsh side heading into this clash was palpable; it felt as if the cliché 'make or break' scenario was created for this occasion. We analysed and scrutinised over the game last weekend but the bottom-line is that Wales were beaten in every facet of the game, something that felt so uncharacteristic of sides gone past. However, it wasn't pretty reading for Georgia too, who looked toothless in attack and out of their depth just about everywhere else. Although Wales were always the strong favourites in this game, the neutral fan couldn't help but watch eagerly as Georgia tried to spoil the party... This game was far from a party. Bogged down by terrible conditions and a flogging of heavy rain, I'd be surprised if anyone watched this game again; not even Rugby masochists would do such a thing. Let's dive into the analysis...
Georgia's Attack... Or Lack There Of It
If this tournament has taught us anything, it's that Italy should feel fairly comfortable with their position in the Six Nations and that throwing in a tier 2 or 3 side isn't the fix that we were looking for. Georgia DID look better in this game with large periods of terrific defence and counter rucking followed up by some sturdy forwards play. However, with the exception of the odd lineout in Wales' 22, they didn't look remotely close to scoring. It's not that the backs didn't have the guts and the forwards didn't break the gain line, it's that Georgia couldn't retain set-phase ball. It would be difficult for any national side to beat a team using one off phases only; even though Jonny May had a good go of it this weekend. That's 7 points from 3 games now for Georgia against Six Nations opposition, something that frustrating to see as a Rugby fan. They cannot continue to drub Portugal, Belgium and Spain every year without the opportunity to play against the 'big boys', but they can't go tournament after tournament not even getting on the scoresheet - it's counter productive. Georgia need some gas, need a bit of footwork and need to play Rugby in the right areas of the pitch.
Mauls and All
I actually thought an interesting takeaway from the last three games with Wales, is that they have little to no driving mauls. They get set up pretty quickly, have the weight and power there, but whether it's technique or a preference for fringe play, Wales don't really like to strike with maul-ball. In a game against a massive Georgian pack, you'd perhaps expect them to steer clear, but with awful conditions exciting back play was never an option on the table. Wales need to alter their game and with Sheedy there were glimpses of that. Play the game in the right areas, pin Georgia back in their own 22, get set up and get your drive on... Apart from Wales kicked well into the Georgian 22 and tried to overwhelm them with one off ball carriers without properly setting up. That could be down to a lack of chemistry and understanding of each players strengths, but Wales have to introduce some form of mauling game plan in order to give themselves a different dimension, especially when the conditions were this bad.
We have been huge advocates for the inclusion of Sheedy in this Welsh squad, even including him in our 'Ones to Watch' list ahead of the Autumn Nations Cup debut. He uses his centres creatively, he's able to take the ball to the line well, he's got a strong tactical kicking game and he's different to a lot of the Welsh options we've had over the last few years. I felt he had a pretty good game this weekend. He kicked well, he was vocal and marshalled his backline pretty efficiently (something that was sorely lacking the weekend before). It was always going to a rough one from a backs point of view with the conditions being as terrible as they were. He could have used the weather a little better though, perhaps putting in some more creative grubbers and bombs to really test the slightly flimsy Georgian full back Lasha Khmaladze. Hardy had a passable game too, but nothing to remember. He looked sharp around the fringes and did the job at 9, making little-to-no glaring errors, but you want to say more about an international quality scrum half than simply 'doing the job'. The game really shifted when Webb came on and he even got a try to prove it. However, I'm not jumping on that bandwagon yet either, as Webb did look unfit and a bit lethargic, but he's a naturally gifted scrum half and we saw glimpses of the form that took him to the top of welsh rugby against this Georgian outfit. I think Wales have some promising options there with some form of Sheedy - Williams, Biggar - Webb rotation - combination available.
I think we will leave it there when it comes to this games analysis, as I'm not sure what else you could really highlight with conditions considered. Wainwright looked strong in the contact, Wales' scrum looked far more assured, Louis Rees-Zammit continues to look immensely promising and it was exciting to see Williams at full back once again. As for this Georgian-side, they desperately need to get on the score sheet next week against Ireland to avoid a clean sweep.