rugbyworldcup.com - Georgia and Romania remain on course

04-Feb-2014

By Jon Newcombe

Georgia and Romania took another step towards Rugby World Cup 2015 qualification after comfortable wins over Belgium and Portugal respectively in the European Nations Cup Division 1A on Saturday.

After maintaining their unbeaten records in the six-team division, they remain favourites to book their places at England 2015 as Europe 1 and 2 – the reward for sides finishing first and second in Division 1A, the pinnacle of international European rugby below the Six Nations.

As things stand, defending champions Georgia would progress as the Europe 1 qualifier and join New Zealand, Argentina, Tonga and the Africa 1 qualifier in Pool C. Romania currently occupy the Europe 2 spot and would therefore find themselves handed the challenge of facing France, Ireland, Italy and Canada in Pool D if they are still there at the conclusion of competition in mid-March.

Despite a slippery playing surface and sub-zero temperatures at the Avchala Stadium in Tbilisi, Georgia managed to bag a bonus-point in the 35-0 win over Belgium to move one point clear of Romania at the top of the standings.

Indeed, it took the Lelos little over half an hour to score the all-important fourth try, Merab Kvirikashvili (2), Konstantine Mikautadze and Merab Sharikadze crossing in a dominant first-half display. Kvirikashvili also kicked a penalty and a conversion as Georgia led 25-0 at the interval.

Captain Irakli Machkhaneli added a fifth try 15 minutes into the second half before flanker Giorgi Chkhaidze concluded the scoring in the 65th minute.

The defeat was particularly disappointing for Belgium right wing Tornike Megrelidze who was up against his native country. It also leaves Belgium propping up the table and facing a three-way fight with Spain and Portugal to avoid relegation to Division 1B.

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