Dixon proud as Georgia 'gain respect'
Dixon proud as Georgia 'gain respect'SHARE
Georgia coach Richie Dixon said his side had earned the “respect” of a global television audience following a gutsy and skilled display during a 41-10 World Cup defeat by England.
Sunday’s final Pool B scoreline was tough on the Eastern European outsiders, who repeatedly bested England at the breakdown – Martin Johnson’s men conceded 14 penalties in the match, 11 in the first half alone at the Otago Stadium.
England found themselves a man down after Dylan Hartley was sin-binned late in the first half and Georgia No.8 Dimitri Basilaia capitalised on the hooker’s absence to score a try off the back of a scrum.
That left Georgia just 17-10 down at half time and had not flyhalf Merab Kvirikashvili, missed five out of seven goalkicks, several of them straightforward efforts, in the indoor stadium, they might have had a real shot at one of the all-time great World Cup shock wins.
“We are pleased,” Dixon told reporters. “We gained a lot of respect from the people we played against and the people watching us around the world.”
Georgia’s display was all the more impressive as they came into this match on the back of just a four-day turnaround after a 15-6 defeat by Scotland in Invercargill on Wednesday.
We certainly demonstrated we can play this game, the 50/50 attack and defence, whereas against Scotland we mostly defended,” said former Scotland boss Dixon. “We now have to convert our opportunities into points.
Georgia tore into the breakdown and Dixon said: “It’s an area we have been concentrating on. England were surprised by our aggression and ferocity in going past the ball.”
But turnovers cost Georgia dear, with England running in six tries, several after the Lelos had been on the attack themselves, with three coming in the final quarter of the match.
“It was broken play (where we struggled) because we were so far up in their territory,” Dixon explained. “We didn’t have the gas and they ran the length of the field.”
England manager Martin Johnson insisted his team had not been taken aback by Georgia’s performance.
“It didn’t take us by surprise,” he said. “We’ve got nothing but admiration for Georgia.”
Johnson was England’s captain in their only previous Test against Georgia, an 84-6 pool rout in Perth eight years ago that was a stepping stone on the way to the 2003 World Cup triumph.
“We didn’t smash them eight years ago,” Johnson said. “Physically, we were a more ruthless, savvy team (in 2003).
“Georgia had a big effort on Wednesday and to come back on Sunday is tough…Good luck to them for the rest of the pool.”