GLOUCESTER: They call Mamuka Gordoze the Mighty One – some brave souls even go for “Godzilla” – and on the rare occasions when he is not to be found at the heart of Georgia’s brick-hard forward unit, things go just a little soft. The Eastern Europeans were well in the game against Argentina until their captain was sent to the sin bin for a “professional offside” early in the second half. Minutes later, they were not in it at all.
There were only five points in it when Gorgodze departed. By the time he returned, his side were 35-9 to the bad. That one fact gives you the clearest possible idea of the measure of the No 8 from Toulon: as he sloped off the field, you could almost hear the air taking its leave of the Georgian balloon.
The good folk of Gloucester think they know all there is to know about old-fashioned man tests: when an entire rugby community is raised on the dark arts and not-so-subtle skulduggeries of Mike Burton and Digger Morris, they can be forgiven for assuming there is nothing new under the West Country sun when it comes to scrummaging and mauling. But with the old city transformed into a Cotswold Cordoba or a Tbilisi-on-Severn – take your pick – there were sights to lift the weariest of spirits.
Not least the spectacle of an Argentine pack spending an entire half of rugby struggling for all they were worth at the set-piece – something that may not have happened to the Pumas since the great outside-half Hugo Porta was in his pomp, a decade or more before World Cup rugby was a twinkle in anyone’s eye. And there was more to the Georgian game than some meat-and-potatoes expertise at close quarters: the flanker Viktor Kolelishvili was terrific all over the field.
If there was one man the outsiders could not handle, it was the most recent of Porta’s many successors. Nicolas Sanchez brought such a sharp cutting edge to the Pumas’ attacking game, the indignities his forwards suffered at the scrum were less traumatising than they might have been.
Argentina celebrate Juan Inhoff’s try against Georgia It was his break that led to the defensive chaos that did for Gorgodze and from the ensuing scrum, the Puma No 8 Facundo Isa’s pick-up and pass gave the scrum-half Tomas Cubelli an easy run to the line – a second try at last, a good while after a wrestling finish from the lock Matias Alemanno midway through the first quarter. When the wings Juan Imhoff and Santiago Cordero added further scores in the twinkling of an eye, it was pretty much open season.
In fairness to the Pumas, who really cut loose in the closing stages to claim contrasting tries through the substitute half-back Martin Landajo and the two wide men, there was a lot of good stuff going on. They have serious pace in the outside backs, clever ideas in midfield and a generous helping of pampas muscle in the vast majority of areas. Their only real worry ahead of this fixture For Georgia, the unlikely prospect of a quarter-final place has faded to nothing. But they will still fancy their chances of beating Namibia and securing their principal objective: automatic qualification for the 2019 World Cup. Who knows? Gorgodze may still be around. No one quite believes him, but he says he’s only 31.was the lasting physical effects of a rugged confrontation with the All Blacks at Wembley five days previously, and once they saw the back of Gorgodze, it was a worry no longer. – [The Independent]