Georgia and Portugal Thrill Fans with 18-18 Rugby World Cup 2023 Draw

Georgia and Portugal Thrill Fans with 18-18 Rugby World Cup 2023 Draw

In a captivating Rugby World Cup 2023 clash, Georgia and Portugal battled to a thrilling 18-18 draw at Stadium de Toulouse in Pool C on Saturday.

Raffaele Storti’s two remarkable tries had seemed poised to secure Portugal’s historic first-ever Rugby World Cup victory. However, just two minutes from full-time, Georgia’s Tengizi Zamtaradze scored a crucial try, leveling the match. Luka Matkava’s missed conversion attempt and Portugal’s decision to forgo a last-gasp penalty kick at goal denied them a dramatic win.

The teams exchanged first-half tries, with Georgia’s wing, Akaki Tabutsadze, and Portugal’s Storti both crossing the try line. Just before halftime, Portugal’s prop Francisco Fernandes received a yellow card, allowing Georgia to hold a 13-5 lead at the break.

In the second half, two penalties by Portuguese scrum-half Samuel Marques and another Storti try appeared to secure an historic victory for Portugal before Zamtaradze’s late try. Unfortunately for Georgia, Os Lobos full-back Nuno Sousa Guedes pulled his kick wide.

Jerónimo Portela, Portugal’s fly-half and the Mastercard Player of the Match, reflected on the game’s final moments, saying, “It was very close; during that last kick, I genuinely believed we could secure the win. We made some mistakes, and we’ll analyze them to improve for the next game. We had a strong second half, and making history with our first-ever draw is significant. We’ve been working since June for this victory, and we’ll keep pushing forward. We have two more matches ahead. I want to express my gratitude to all the Portuguese fans and everyone who was here today.”

Georgia’s head coach, Levan Maisashvili, ruefully acknowledged Portugal’s impressive comeback from a 13-0 deficit, stating, “That’s rugby for you. Rugby is a full game, not just one half. We fought hard in the first half, but in the second half, Portugal dominated in all aspects. We missed numerous opportunities in the second half. We know the Portuguese team, but we failed to capitalize on our chances. We lost possession too often and struggled in breakdowns. Portugal played exceptionally well in the second half.”

Patrice Lagisquet, Portugal’s head coach, admitted, “The first half was challenging; our kicking game was off, we had lineout mistakes, and our discipline was lacking. Despite these issues, we were still in the game at halftime. While I would have preferred that final kick to go through, the result is a positive one for us.”

Mark Z

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