The SA President’s XV yesterday continued their winning ways in the inaugural Tbilisi Cup in Georgia as they beat Emerging Ireland 19-8 to establish themselves as strong contenders for the title.
The victory placed them in a favourable position to retain the top spot on the log ahead of their final match against hosts, Georgia, at the Avchala Rugby Stadium on Sunday.
SA President’s XV flyhalf Carl Bezuidenhout opened up the scoring in the fifth minute with a penalty, which was followed up by a stunning team try late in the first quarter by SWD Eagles wing Alshaun Bock for a 10-3 lead in a tightly contested first half.
Emerging Ireland’s only points in the first half were compliments of a penalty by flyhalf Ian Keatley, however, they broke the opposition’s defensive line on several occasions during the half.
Jimmy Stonehouse’s men picked up where they left off after the break with Bezuidenhout kicking another two penalties to extend their lead to 16-3.
Unfortunately the team was reduced to 14 men as prop Ivann Espag was sent to the sin bin in the 59th minute for infringing in the scrums in their 22, which allowed Emerging Ireland to score their only of the match thanks to replacement back Michael Allen.
But with the SA President’s XV on the front foot, as their scramble defence, rucks and attack functioned smoothly, they were able to shut out Emerging Ireland toward the end of the match.
The team, however, continued to show their mettle until the final whistle as Bezuidenhout sealed the convincing victory with a long-range penalty in the dying minutes.
While Stonehouse will be delighted with the victory, he is certain to place a big emphasis on better scrummaging and use of their try-scoring opportunities ahead of their clash against Georgia.
Should the team finish the series at the top of the log, they will be crowned the champions.
SA President’s XV -Try: Alshaun Bock. Conversion: Carl Bezuidenhout (1). Penalties: Carl Bezuidenhout (4)
Emerging Ireland – Try: Michael Allen. Penalty: Ian Keatley (1)