The SA President’s XV on Sunday overcame a physical onslaught from hosts Georgia in their final IRB Tbilisi Cup clash at the Avchala Rugby Stadium for a 21-16 victory and the title in the inaugural tournament.
Following victories against Uruguay and Emerging Ireland in their opening two matches Jimmy Stonehouse’s team needed only one log point from the encounter to seal the tournament win before the closing clash between Uruguay and Emerging Ireland.
But a combination of flyhalf Carl Bezuidenhout’s accurate goal-kicking, well worked tries by Rosco Speckman and Eduan Van Der Walt, and a brave forward effort earned the team their third victory in as many matches.
Bezuidenhout opened the scoring in the second minute with a penalty and backed that up four minutes later with his second to nudge the SA President’s XV into a 6-0 lead.
But Georgian wing Beka Tsiklauri hit back with a penalty in the 11th minute to put his team on the scoreboard, and with the hosts pack functioning like a well-oiled machine and the SA President’s XV reduced to 14 men as lock Eduan Van Der Walt was sin-binned, they powered their way over the tryline in the 25th minute from a fantastic rolling maul.
Tsiklauri added his second penalty shortly after to hand his team a 13-6 lead.
Another penalty by the dependable Bezuidenhout and a stunning try by left wing Rosco Speckman, who danced his way to the tryline after receiving the ball in space, however, handed the visitors a narrow 16-13 lead at the break.
This lead was, however, short-lived as Tsiklauri leveled the scores early in the second half with another penalty.
But it was the SA President’s XV who had the last say with Van Der Walt scoring the team’s second try on the stroke of the fourth quarter to force them back into the lead, which proved enough to secure the victory.
The highlights of the team’s performance were undoubtedly their lineouts, as they snatched a few balls off Georgia’s throw-in, and their forceful presence at the breakdowns.
In the other match Emerging Ireland thrashed Uruguay 42-33 to finish the tournament in second place on the log standings.
SA President’s XV - Tries: Rosco Speckman (1) Eduan Van Der Walt (1). Conversion: Carl Bezuidenhout (1). Penalties: Carl Bezuidenhout (3).
Georgia -Try: Levan Chilachava Conversion: Beka Tsiklauri Penalties: Beka Tsiklauri (3)