Scotland find form in second half to seal come-from-behind win over Georgia

Duhan van der Merwe going over for a Scotland try. Credit: Alamy
Duhan van der Merwe going over for a Scotland try. Credit: Alamy

Scotland came back from 6-0 down at the break to seal a 33-6 victory over Georgia in their final Rugby World Cup warm-up game at Murrayfield on Saturday.

It was a frustrating opening 40 minutes for Gregor Townsend’s men as two Luka Matkava penalties sent the Lelos into the half-time interval with a narrow lead.

However, Scotland clicked into gear upon their return with tries from Duhan van der Merwe (2), Rory Darge, Jack Dempsey and Kyle Steyn sealing the triumph.

Finn Russell, who played with his customary swagger, fired over two conversions before his replacement at fly-half, Ben Healy, did likewise later in the contest.

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The slow-starting Scots survived a scare in the 17th minute when Georgia wing Mirian Modebadze tried to get on the end of a kick through and slam down over the line but full-back Ollie Smith got back just in time to avert the danger.

The visitors continued in the ascendancy though and they doubled their advantage to six points in the 21st minute when Matkava kicked another penalty.

The 6-0 deficit seemed to inject a semblance of urgency into Scotland’s play and they started to become more of a threat as the first half wore on.

The hosts thought they had got themselves up and running in the 36th minute when Steyn – added to the starting XV on Friday after Darcy Graham was ruled out with a minor quad strain – forced his way over the line in the right corner but following a TMO review he was deemed to have lost control of the ball before placing it down.

The only first-half blemish for the dogged Georgians was the worrying sight of hooker Shalva Mamukashvili – on his 100th appearance – hobbling off before the break, just two weeks ahead of their World Cup opener against Australia in Paris.

With Scotland unable to get a point on the board, they found themselves in the now familiar position of having to mount a second-half recovery.

And that is exactly what they did. Van der Merwe began the revival with his 19th try for Scotland as he eased over on the left after being teed up perfectly by a lovely pass from the outside of Russell’s boot. Russell added the extras to edge the hosts in front.

The Scots swiftly took control. Darge – who also scored in the last match away to France – forced his way over from close range in the 51st minute after Van der Merwe had been held up following a marauding run. Russell again converted in what was the talisman’s last act of the match before going off amid a raft of substitutions.

Dempsey then powered his way through a ruck of Georgian bodies to push down just left of the posts in the 59th minute, with replacement Healy converting.

Steyn – who scored a double in St Etienne last time out – added his team’s fourth try of the match from close range in the 69th minute after Dempsey was denied just in front of the line. Healy again added the extras.

And Van der Merwe had the 54,000 crowd in raptures when he capped an impressive second-half display from the Scots with a straightforward touchdown on the left two minutes from the end, with Healy again on target with his kick.

READ MORE: Scotland player ratings: Duhan van der Merwe the class act as second-half surge sees off Georgia

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