21 July 2024,   20:14
45:17 - Georgia U20s repeat 2023’s heroics, beating England to share series

England have suffered a repeat of last year’s build-up to the World Rugby U20 Championship as a 17-45 defeat in a sweltering Tbilisi left them sharing a pre-tournament series one-all with Georgia, writes RUGBYPASS.

“Defeat 12 months ago ultimately didn’t hamper Mark Mapletoft’s side as they progressed through their pool in South Africa to make the semi-finals. They will now look for a similar outcome when they again travel to Cape Town on the back of a loss in another shared series with the Georgians.

The English picked up the thread of their recent Six Nations title-winning campaign when convincingly beating their Eastern European hosts 31-7 last Friday. However, Mapletoft opted to go into Wednesday’s rematch with a starting XV showing a dozen changes and an opposition coached by Levan Maisashvili, Georgia’s former Rugby World Cup 2023 coach, gleefully picked them off in an eight-try contest in which the hosts accounted for five.

England had jumped 5-3 up with an eighth-minute maul try from Nathan Michelow, but they fell into arrears 10 minutes later through a Giorgi Spanderashvili try and they never caught up. A try disallowed for an illegal block on Afolabi Fasogbon seemed set to keep the visitors in the hunt heading towards the break, but the prop soon infringed himself on the stroke of half-time and was yellow carded.

When his sin-binning elapsed 10 minutes into the second-half, England, a man down and struggling in the 30 degree heat, had gone from trailing 5-13 to 5-28 following the concession of two more tries. They hit back quickly enough when the contest became 15 versus 15 again, replacement Archie Green, the son of ex-England and Wasps prop Will, going over. However, a pair of tries from winger Tariel Ballikashvili on 60 and 63 minutes extinguished any notion of a comeback and England were instead made to settle for a 72nd-minute consolation try from full-back Ioan Jones.

England begin their U20 Championship versus Argentina on June 29 followed by games against Fiji and hosts South Africa. Georgia, meanwhile, open versus Australia before facing Ireland and Italy”.