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Billy Burns marks first Ireland start with opening try but it's a drab display to see off Georgia at Aviva Stadium

Ireland 23-10 Georgia

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Ireland's Billy Burns scored the opening try but his side managed only a penalty during a disappointing second half.

Ireland's Billy Burns scored the opening try but his side managed only a penalty during a disappointing second half.

PA

Ireland's Billy Burns scored the opening try but his side managed only a penalty during a disappointing second half.

Ireland will meet Scotland in the Aviva Stadium after a drab performance was enough to see off Georgia in Dublin.

While Andy Farrell's men never seemed likely to succumb to what would have been a damaging defeat, there was little here to build upon moving forward, especially in a best-forgotten second-half that saw each side contribute only a penalty apiece.

On a day when five Ulstermen were in the run-on side, it was Billy Burns who got things going as he marked the occasion of his first international start with a first try.

The number ten had Fivemiletown native Chris Farrell to thank for the opening, the Munster centre's soft hands setting him through the gap after Georgia had a hand in their own downfall thanks to a missed touch.

 

Burns would add a penalty before Georgia, who have former Ulster head coach Neil Doak guiding their attack in this tournament scored their first points of the tournament.

Two games and 15 minutes, the try was worth the wait.

Full-back Soso Matiashvili inside pass guided his centre Giorgi Kveseladze past the advancing Will Connors and the number 13 brilliantly dummied his way past Jacob Stockdale and stepped inside Burns to run home from halfway.

With the scrum providing an interesting battle, Burns would keep the visitors at arms length with another penalty before Ireland made the half-time score a lot more comfortable with a try in the six minutes before the turn.

After a brilliant kick from Stuart McCloskey had pinned Georgia back on their own five metre line, Shalva Mamukashvili's throw at the line-out wasn't straight.

Ireland hammered away at the line but it was only when they went to the backs, and Stockdale's lengthy skip pass gave Hugo Keenan a walk-in, that they would get the score.

For Burns, an infrequent kicker at provincial level, the conversion from the sideline will have been a real boost too.

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Ireland looked to have got another one just before the break but what would have been a first Test try from McCloskey was ruled out thanks to what Mathieu Raynal deemed to be a forward pass from Stockdale in the build-up.

The third quarter was something of an unwanted arm-wrestle, a flat period in a flat contest but there was no doubt that Ireland had found themselves in a game that few expected.

The sight of Ross Byrne lining up a penalty as the hour mark neared said plenty about the lay of the land in the contest. That successful kick moved the score to 23-10 and, while it always seemed unlikely los lelos had two further tries in them, things were far from put to bed either.

Nor would they be in a game come the final whistle had long since lost any spark it once had.

Ultimately this was a second-half - with a score of 3-3 - as poor, if not not poorer, as anything Ireland have put out in games they've lost this autumn to superior opposition. While the visitors deserve plenty of credit for putting their own struggles this autumn behind them to make their mark on proceedings, it was especially worrisome to see an Ireland side have no better idea than to play a game well-suited to their opposition.

Battered by Georgia's superior physicality, Ireland banging their heads against a brick wall as the game came to an end had the feel of a fitting finale.

A third/fourth place play-off in a soon to be forgotten competition may not seem to carry much sense of occasion but next week's visit from Scotland now has the feel of an important yardstick as to where this side sits as 2021 looms ever closer.

IRELAND: J Stockdale; H Keenan, C Farrell, S McCloskey, K Earls; B Burns, C Murray; F Bealham, R Herring, A Porter; I Henderson, J Ryan; T Beirne, W Connors, CJ Stander.

REPLACEMENTS: J Ryan for Porter, 40; R Byrne for Burns, 45; K Marmion for Murray, 56; C Healy for Bealham, 56; Q Roux for Ryan, 61; P O'Mahony for Beirne, 61; S Daly for Earls, 62; D Heffernan for Connors, 66

GEORGIA: S Matiashvili; A Tabutsadze, G Kveseladze, M Sharikadze, T Mchedlidze; T Abzhandadze, V Lobzhanidze; M Nariashvili, S Mamukashvili, B Gigashvili; N Tcheisgvili, L Jaiani; B Saghinadze, T Jalagonia, B Gorgadze

REPLACEMENTS: L Kaulashvili for Nariashvili, 49; G Javakhia for Tcheishvili, 62; M Gachechiladze for Gorgodze, 62; G Melikidze for Gigashvili, 64; G Chkoidze for Mamukashvili, 64; G Melikidze for Gigashvili, 70; M Alania for  Lobzhanidze, 74;

Player of the Match: I Henderson (IRE)

Referee: M Raynal (FRA)

Here's the game as it happened:


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