New Zealand

Aussies end losing streak against Georgia

Australia’s Ben Donaldson scored two tries to fire his side to a comfortable 35-15 bonus-point victory over Georgia in their World Cup opener on Saturday, giving the twice world champions a morale-boosting first win in six tests this year.

Livewire young backs Mark Nawaqanitawase and Jordan Petaia scored early tries to help the Wallabies to a 21-3 halftime lead before fullback Donaldson grabbed his brace to lift the Wallabies out of a second-half lull at the Stade de France.

Donaldson, a surprise selection brought into the side primarily for his place-kicking, added 15 points from the tee with three penalties and three conversions.

“There is a real feeling this team could do something,” Eddie Jones said after the first victory of his second reign as Australia coach.

“We’ve got a young team, it’s a great learning experience for them. Each time they will get a little better, we’ll see the improvements as the tournament goes on.”

Georgia never looked like adding another top tier victim to their tally after wins over Italy and Wales in the last 13 months but battled to the bitter end and scored tries through Luka Ivanishvili and Beka Gigashvili.

The atmosphere was always going to be subdued compared to Friday’s opening night party when the hosts beat the All Blacks but Australia contributed by quickly stifling any chance of the upset the majority of the 75,770 crowd wanted.

Centre Petaia wriggled across the line in the second minute and made the break to send winger Nawaqanitawase in for another try seven minutes later before Donaldson took over from the kicking tee to keep the scoreboard ticking over.

INCREASINGLY FRUSTRATED

The Georgians, pinned into their own half by the Australian kicking and heavily penalised, were becoming frustrated and left winger Mirian Modebadze was shown a yellow card just before halftime.

The Lelos came out with renewed purpose after the break and, still down to 14 men, cut the deficit to 21-8 when flyhalf Luka Matkava found flanker Ivanishvili free on the left wing with a long, looping pass.

Georgia’s talented fullback Davit Niniashvili finally got room to run in the 56th minute but his wild pass backwards found only Taniela Tupou and the Australia prop’s neat offload sent Donaldson over for his first try.

Australia were still struggling to find their tempo in the stifling heat but flyhalf Carter Gordon summoned up a superb long pass to allow Donaldson to skip through a big gap and secure the bonus point in the 69th minute.

“The boys just executed really for the full 80 minutes and in the end it made me look half decent,” said Donaldson, named man of the match in his fourth test.

The Georgians kept fighting but Nawaqanitawase produced a stunning try-saving tackle to deny winger Akaki Tabutsadze before replacement prop Gigashvili bulldozed his way over from close range in the dying seconds.

“The Australians played really well today they were the strongest team,” said Georgia coach Levan Maisashvili.

“We did not have much self-confidence today but what’s important is the next game against Portugal.”

Australia head south for their second Pool C match in St Etienne on Sunday against a dangerous Fiji side who recently beat England.

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