Georgia full-back Davit Niniashvili made a searing break but his offload then cost his side
Georgia full-back Davit Niniashvili went from hero to zero against Australia after his scintillating break somehow ended in a try for the Wallabies.
It is fair to say the Lyon superstar, 21, did not have his finest day in a Lelos shirt, making some extremely uncharacteristic errors at the Stade de France in his side’s opening Pool C clash.
However, he was set free in the second half after a mark was taken quickly and went steaming through the Australia defence after spotting a mismatch against Wallaby tighthead Taniela Tupou. Niniashvili made plenty of metres but failed to pass before he was tackled just inside the opposition ten, despite having several team-mates in support.
Before hitting the deck, he looked for support before offloading hopefully only for the ball to go straight to Tupou. The Tongan Thor could not believe his luck as he started motoring back towards the Georgia half.
Clearly he did not quite have the gas to go himself but unleashed a spectacular one-handed offload to supporting full-back Ben Donaldson who raced in under the posts.
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Donaldson, usually a fly-half but playing his first game at 15 for his country, converted his own score to put his side 28-8 up after 57 minutes. He was an inspired selection by Eddie Jones, going on to score his second try in the 69th minute after a motoring maul and miss pass from Carter Gordon put him in plenty of space.
The successful conversion took his personal points tally to a whopping 25, capping a peerless performance. It was in great contrast to the usually so assured Niniashvili who was withdrawn just after the hour mark, a very rare move for Georgia head coach Levan Maisashvili.
Many have tipped Georgia to spring a surprise in Pool C after impressive victories over Tier One opposition in Italy and Wales in 2022 but they will need to summon more than they showed on the opening weekend of the tournament.
Sir Clive Woodward even said, on ITV’s pre-game coverage, that he believed Georgia should be included in the Six Nations going forward. However the World Cup-winning coach’s eagerness to see the Lelos play was not met with an impressive performance.