Scotland steamroll Georgia
MATCH REPORT: Scotland absorbed the shock of conceding a fourth-minute try to scrumhalf Vasil Lobzhanidze before steamrollering Georgia with six tries of their own to win 43-16.
Fullback Stuart Hogg scored tries in both halves, while there were also tries for wings Tommy Seymour and Sean Maitland and flank Hamish Watson, plus a penalty try as the Scots ran out convincing winners on the plastic pitch that is home to Kilmarnock Football Club.
With scrumhalf and captain Grieg Laidlaw registering a perfect six out of six place-kicking record (five conversions and a penalty), Scotland head coach Vern Cotter enjoyed a comfortable victory against a Georgia side coached by Milton Haig, his former playing and coaching partner at Bay of Plenty in New Zealand.
For Cotter, who will move on to French Top 14 side Montpellier when Gregor Townsend replaces him in June, it completed an encouraging November series, following on from a 22-23 loss to Australia and a 19-16 win against Argentina.
For Haig and Georgia, following their 20-16 victory over Samoa in Tbilisi last week, the size of the defeat came as a blow to their long-term ambitions of being added to an expanded Six Nations Championship.
It was from a line-out drive after four minutes that the Georgians struck the first blow, Lobzhanidze scampering down the blindside to score in the right corner.
Fullback Merab Kvirikashvili was off target with the conversion, but the sizeable contingent of Georgian supporters in the crowd had a 5-0 lead to celebrate.
Not that they were cheering for long. The only previous encounter between the countries – a 15-6 win for Scotland in Invercargill at the 2011 World Cup - had failed to yield a try but there were two in the opening eight minutes this time.
Hogg chipped a deftly-weighted kick into the left corner for Seymour to touch down. Laidlaw's conversion furnished Scotland with a 7-5 lead and they soon stretched the gap to nine points.
With 14 minutes gone Cotter had the satisfaction of watching his forwards trundling the Georgian pack back to their own line, referee Matt Carley awarding a penalty try and sending Montpellier lock Konstantine Mikautadze to the sin bin for trying to pull down the Scottish maul.
Laidlaw landed the conversion and then - after Kvirikashvili had been successful with his first penalty attempt - the Scotland scrumhalf fed in Maitland for the home team's third try in the right corner after 19 minutes.
Following an exchange of successful penalties by Laidlaw and Kvirikashvili, the Scots had their fourth try on the board after 34 minutes: a dazzling solo effort by Hogg, who collected his own kick to run in from 40 metres.
Laidlaw’s conversion gave Scotland a 31-11 lead at the interval and they did not waste time getting back into their stride after the break, Watson picking up from the back of a driven line-out and darting over for his first international try after 41 minutes.
After conversion number five for Laidlaw, however, Scotland took their foot off the gas and conceded a second try after 53 minutes, Lobzhanidze scoring after the Georgia pack drove their Scottish counterparts back over their own tryline.
Scotland prop Moray Low was yellow carded for a scrum offence in the 73rd minute, but despite their numerical disadvantage, replacements Ali Price and Rory Hughes combined to tee up Hogg for his second try after 76 minutes.
Tries: Seymour, Penalty Try, Maitland, Hogg 2, Watson
Cons: Laidlaw 5
Tries: Lobzhanidze 2
Pens: Kvirikashvili 2
Yellow card: Moray Low (Scotland, 73 - repeated infringements)
Scotland: 15 Stuart Hogg, 14 Sean Maitland, 13 Mark Bennett, 12 Alex Dunbar, 11 Tommy Seymour, 10 Finn Russell, 9 Greig Laidlaw (captain), 8 Ryan Wilson, 7 Hamish Watson, 6 Rob Harley, 5 Jonny Gray, 4 Richie Gray, 3 Zander Fagerson, 2 Ross Ford, 1 Allan Dell.
Replacements: 16 Fraser Brown, 17 Alex Allan, 18 Moray Low, 19 Grant Gilchrist, 20 John Barclay, 21 Ali Price, 22 Pete Horne, 23 Rory Hughes.
Georgia: 15 Merab Kvirikashvili, 14 Giorgi Aptsiauri, 13 Merab Sharikadze, 12 Tamaz Mtchedlidze, 11 Sandro Todua, 10 Lasha Malaghuradze, 9 Vasil Lobzhanidze, 8 Beka Bitsadze, 7 Mamuka Gorgodze (captain), 6 Vito Kolelishvili, 5 Giorgi Nemsadze, 4 Kote Mikautadze, 3 Levan Chilachava, 2 Jaba Bregvadze, 1 Mikheil Nariashvili.
Replacements: 16 Badri Alkhazashvili, 17 Kakha Asieshvili, 18 Dudu Kubriashvili, 19 Lasha Lomidze, 20 Giorgi Tkhilaishvili, 21 Giorgi Begadze, 22 Beka Tsiklauri, 23 Shalva Sutiashvili
Referee: Matthew Carley (England)
Assistant referees: Mathieu Raynal (France), Dan Jones (Wales)
TMO: Simon McDowell (Ireland)