Tuesday, 18 March 2014

Georgia 2014 ENC Grand Slam winners


This weekend Georgia completed won their 9th ENC title and 4th Grand Slam with a 22-9 win over Romania in front of their home crowd at the Mikheil Meskhi Stadium. Here is a look at the successful team of 2014.

35-0 vs Belgium Belgium | Avchala Stadium, Tbilisiimage
Georgia's produced one of their worst performances in recent memory in this fixture last year, this time however the Lelos got off to an assured start to the tournament wrapping up the bonus point in half an hour for a convincing home win (which would have been somewhat bigger if not for the bizarre amount of missed conversions) on a snow covered field. The 10/12 combination of Lasha Khmaladze and Merab Sharikadze again was a standout and together they were involved in creating half the tries.

GIF pick of the tries: Merab Sharikadze

Team: 15 M Kvirikashvili (B Tsiklauri 58); 14 I Machkhaneli (c), 13 D Kacharava, 12 M Sharikadze; 11 G Skhinin (T Mchedlidze 67); 10 L Khmaladze (L Malaguradze 56), 9 G Begadze (V Khutsishvili 49); 1 M Nariashvili (Z Zhvania 45), 2 J Bregvadze (S Mamukashvili 45), 3 D Kubriashvili (L Chilachava 45); 4 K Mikautadze, 5 L Datunashvili (G Nemsadze 56); 6 G Tkhilaishvili (Nariashvili 74), 7 G Chkhaidze (S Sutiashvili 61), 8 D Basilaia (V Kolelishvili 56).
Tries: Mikautadze (6), Kvirikashvili (9, 31), Sharikadze (20), Machkhaneli (55), Chkhaidze (65) Conversion: Kvirikashvili (10) Penalty: Kvirikashvili (40)
GIF Pick of the Tries: Merab Sharikadze
After Khmaladze makes a half break and offload
Sharikadze then has the pace to finish

34-9 vs Portugal Portugal | Estádio Universitário de Lisboa, Lisbon
imageLisbon has historically been an awkward venue for Georgia, in recent times they have normally won the match but only done so by margins but struggled to really cut loose, their last 3 wins in the Portuguese capital were by margins of 1, 6 and 5. This time though Georgia impressed and comprehensively took this game with ease winning by their biggest margin away to Portugal. After building a lead through penalties, the Lelos ran away with the game with tries for Tedo Zibzibadze, Merab Kvirikashvili and Davit Kacharava, the last of which came from some very nice backline play.

GIF pick of the tries: Davit Kacharava

Team: 15 M Kvirikashvili; 14 I Machkhaneli (c), 13 D Kacharava, 12 T Zibzibadze (L Malaguradze 67); 11 G Skhinin (T Mchedlidze 67); 10 L Khmaladze, 9 G Begadze (V Khutsishvili 40); 1 M Nariashvili (Z Zhvania 51), 2 S Mamukashvili (J Bregvadze 51), 3 L Chilachava (A Peikrishvili 51); 4 K Mikautadze (G Nemsadze 61), 5 L Datunashvili; 6 V Kolelishvili, 7 G Chkhaidze (S Sutiashvili 61), 8 D Basilaia.
Tries: Zibzibadze (39), Kvirikashvili (60), Kacharava (72) Conversions: Kvirikashvili (61, 73) Penalties: Kvirikashvili (9, 16, 20, 27, 45)
GIF Pick of the Tries: Davit Kacharava
Set piece move from lineout ball with Tamaz
Mchedlidze looping round off his wing through the
defensive line and from there just decent support
play is needed to finish the score

36-10 vs Russia Russia | Dinamo Arena, Tbilisiimage
In front of a sold out 55,000 Dinamo Arena crowd, Georgia extended their famous unbeaten run against their old rivals Russia with another dominant performance which confirmed their place at the 2015 World Cup. The match started badly with Kvirikashvili gifting the Russians their first try for years in this fixture, but it was only a matter of time until the Georgians began to bulldoze over the Bears with the returning Davit Zirakashvili going over from a maul, and the big ball carriers in the back row also getting on the scoresheet. This was not a particularly fluent Georgian performance, but it did the job simply enough.

Team: 15 M Kvirikashvili (L Malaguradze 72); 14 I Machkhaneli (c), 13 D Kacharava (T Zibzibadze 65), 12 T Zibzibadze (L Malaguradze 67); 11 G Skhinin (T Mchedlidze 67); 10 L Khmaladze, 9 G Begadze (V Khutsishvili 69); 1 M Nariashvili (Z Zhvania 56), 2 S Mamukashvili (J Bregvadze 56), 3 D Zirakashvili (L Chilachava 56); 4 K Mikautadze (G Nemsadze 61), 5 L Datunashvili (G Nemsadze 65); 6 V Kolelishvili, 7 G Chkhaidze (S Sutiashvili 61), 8 D Basilaia.
Tries: Zirakashvili (26), Kolelishvili (41), Gorgodze (51), Zibzibadze (70), Penalty Try (80) Conversions: Kvirikashvili (27, 42, 51), Malaguradze (80) Penalty: Kvirikashvili (21)
GIF Pick of the Tries: Tedo Zibzibadze
Following a break from an offload in midfield,
Georgia spread the ball wide to make use of an overlap


24-17 vs Spain Spain | Estadio Nacional Complutense, Madridimage
With a crucial match on the horizon against Romania, Milton Haig opted to take the risk of resting half the team including most of the pack. It was a risk that was looking questionable at half time after Spain took a shocking lead against the run of play following an intercept and another Kvirikashvili mistake. Crucially though, unlike 2012 which was a reserve team with the worst first choice players remaining, this time the stars Gorgodze and Sharikadze remained in the team and they proved important as Georgia retook their grip on the match in the second half to secure the game.

GIF pick of the tries: Giga Tkhilaishvili

Team: 15 M Kvirikashvili (B Tsiklauri 76); 14 I Machkhaneli (c), 13 T Zibzibadze (L Malaguradze 73), 12 M Sharikadze, 11 T Mchedlidze; 10 L Khmaladze, 9 V Khutsishvili (G Begadze 62); 1 Z Zhvania (K Asieshvili 70), 2 J Bregvadze (S Mamukashvili 50), 3 L Chilachava (A Peikrishvili 50); 4 G Nemsadze, 5 K Mikautadze; 6 G Tkhilaishvili (Sutiashvili 62), 7 M Gorgodze, 8 G Chkhaidze (G Berishvili 62).
Tries: Gorgodze (52), Tkhilaishvili (55) Conversion: Kvirikashvili (57) Penalties: Kvirikashvili (9, 21, 67) Drop Goal: Kvirikashvili (28)
GIF Pick of the Tries: Giga Tkhilaishvili
Khmaladze pierces the line and Tkilaishvili is on
hand to pick up and get an easy score

22-9 vs Romania Romania | Mikheil Meskhi Stadium, Tbilisiimage
Due to the way last year panned out and with Romania also winning their first 4 games this game had a lot at stake in it. Not only was it a Grand Slam decider for this year's ENC title, but also to decide which team would get the easier pool at the World Cup. Just like against Russia, Georgia started nervously in front a large, noisy and passionate home crowd, but after they found their feet after the first 20 minutes they were not going to be denied. The Lelos outplayed the Romanians, dominating the contact and collision area, getting through phases of quick ball and stretching Romania which led to a good try for Zirakashvili. They should have won by a dozen more points than they did in the end, but it didn't really matter as it was clear the way the game was going. The game got a lot of hype in Georgia with notable political figures attending and it ended up being special day for Georgian rugby as they delivered the result. With a terrific atmosphere it is one that along with the win over Samoa will stay in the memories of the players for years to come.

Team: 15 M Kvirikashvili (L Malaguradze 61); 14 I Machkhaneli (c), 13 D Kacharava, 12 M Sharikadze, 11 T Mchedlidze (T Zibzibadze 57); 10 L Khmaladze, 9 G Begadze (V Khutsishvili 70); 1 M Nariashvili (A Peikrishvili 57), 2 J Bregvadze (S Mamukashvili 52), 3 D Zirakashvili (L Chilachava 57); 4 K Mikautadze (G Nemsadze 61), 5 L Datunashvili; 6 V Kolelishvili (G Chkhaidze 67), 7 M Gorgodze, 8 D Basilaia.
Try: Zirakashvili (27) Conversion: Kvirikashvili (27) Penalties: Kvirikashvili (7, 25, 40, 51), Malaguradze (66)
GIF Pick of the Tries: Davit Zirakashvili
A simple try built on quick ball and putting width on the ball

For: 151 (17 Tries, 9 Cons, 15 Pens, 1 DG) | Against: 45 (3 Tries, 3 Cons, 8 Pens)
Top Point Scorer: Merab Kvirikashvili (76) | Top Try Scorer: Merab Kvirikashvili (3)
Total Players Used: 31 | Oldest: Irakli Machkhaneli (32) | Youngest: Merab Sharikadze (20)

ENC Grand Slam Winners (4th time): 2001, 2008, 2011, 2014
3 Times Grand Slam winners: Giorgi Chkhaidze, Davit Kacharava, Lasha Malaguradze, Merab Kvirikashvili, Tedo Zibzibadze, Levan Datunashvili, Giorgi Nemsadze, Shalva Sutiashvili, Mamuka Gorgodze, Davit Zirakashvili, Anton Peikrishvili

ENC Winners (9th time): 2001, 2005, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014
8 Times Winners: Merab Kvirikashvili, Levan Datunashvili, Davit Zirakashvili | 7 Times Winners: Davit Kacharava, Giorgi Chkhaidze, Irakli Machkhaneli, Tedo Zibzibadze, Mamuka Gorgodze


  1. All preparation efforts to the rwc now

  2. a few crucial matches left this year, in November: Ireland, and possibly japan and tonga (if their rugby unions agree to the offer). so a lot more to see from the Lelos in 2014!