Georgia deliver rugby earthquake earthquake shock as Matkavas late penalty stuns Wales | Autumn Nations Series

Wales suffered an embarrassing defeat as unpopular Georgia celebrated a famous 13-12 Autumn Nations Series win at Principality Stadium. Substitute Luka Matkava’s penalty two minutes from time caused Wales immense pain.

Flanker Jac Morgan scored two first-half tries but Wales faltered in a miserable second 40 minutes, which Georgia dominated.

The countries will meet again at next year’s World Cup in France, an encounter Georgia now has no fear of any form. Winger Sandro Todua scored a try in the 59th minute while full-back Tedo Abzhandadze converted and took a penalty as the visitors repeatedly reversed Wales. He then missed a penalty but Matkava trumped and Wales had absolutely nothing to complain about.

It was one of the biggest upsets in international rugby union history and will inevitably put Welsh manager Wayne Pivac under pressure ahead of next weekend’s autumn final against Australia.

Scarlets forward Josh Macleod made his Wales debut and finished eighth, while other changes from the team that beat Argentina last weekend included starts for Rhys Priestland, wing Josh Adams and lock Ben Carter.

Abzhandadze gave Georgia an early lead before full-back Davit Niniashvili unleashed a thrilling counterattack as the visitors pulled away impressively. Wales were slow in getting out of the blocks in comparison, but they started to press inside Georgia’s 22, with Alex Cuthbert close after two lineout drives well defended by the visitors.

But Wales pounced in the 20th minute after Adam Beard won the lineout ball and Morgan rushed over for a try that Priestland converted and made it 7-3. Morgan struck again just three minutes later, conceding Tomos Williams’ pass in the back half, impressively continuing his outstanding performance against Argentina after coming on as a first-half substitute.

Wales players show their dejection after defeat by Georgia
Wales players show their dejection after defeat by Georgia. Photo: Joe Giddens/PA

Wales thought they had scored again eight minutes before the break when Adams finished impressively after a kick and a chase, but Williams’ pass to him was decided up front. It was a disappointment for Georgia and they suffered no further damage on the scoreboard as Wales led 12-3 at half-time.

Pivac made a first substitution just five minutes into the second half, sending on prop Sam Wainwright for Dillon Lewis. But Wales were temporarily reduced to 14 men when Cuthbert was given a yellow card by referee Andrea Piardi after an air accident that caused Todua to fall awkwardly.

Macleod then gave way, with Taulupe Faletau taking over from him and playing his 99th test game for Wales and the British and Irish Lions.

Georgia dominated the third quarter, benefiting from Wales’ aimless shots, and scrum half Vasil Lobzhanidze came close to a try that was thwarted by strong defensive work from Adams. Wales were predictable, lacking in creativity and Georgia seemed to benefit from that.

The visitors reduced the gap to just two points midway through the period when Todua intercepted a well-placed free-kick and sent in a cross, Abzhandadze’s conversion making it 12-10. Abzhandadze had a chance to put Georgia ahead but he swept an angled penalty wide and Wales escaped.

Faletau made a formidable impression and appeared to have created a hat-trick attempt for Morgan only for the Cardiff number eight to knock in the approach game. The final minutes were inevitably tense, especially from a Welsh perspective, and Matkava sent Georgia to dreamland with his long-range effort.

Georgia’s players celebrated wildly and held on to their win, clinching the biggest win in their rugby history, beating Wales for the first time and leaving their hosts dejected.

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