Georgia head coach Lado Kilasonia reckons the Junior Lelos have shown they can mix it with the big boys despite a 44-17 defeat to France on Under-20 Six Nations Summer Series Finals Day, writes Josh Graham in Treviso.
Georgia raced into a 10-0 lead in the first half thanks to Alexandre Kuntelia’s try before Les Bleuets hit back with Gatien Massé’s double and after Sergo Abramishvili was sin-binned, Benjamin Boudou’s score on the stroke of half-time gave France a 17-10 lead.
Thomas Moukoro was sent off for a dangerous tackle at the start of the second half but Max Auriac’s penalty and Louis Bielle-Biarrey’s converted try kept France on top.
Brent Liufau was shown yellow and Georgia capitalised through Lasha Tsikhistavi but another Auriac penalty and then a crucial interception when camped on their own line meant Robin Bellemand's sin-binning had little effect despite France spending 20 minutes with 13 men before Leo Banos’ score sealed matters.
Kilasonia said: “I think we managed to execute our game plan at the beginning of the first half until it’s end and then unfortunately we couldn’t stick to that.
“Then, full credit to France, they were just very good especially when they went one and two men down. We couldn’t attack well when they went men down which is what cost us the game.
“I think our timing on the ball went a little bit off especially in the backline. We couldn’t get it back and when the system didn’t work, we hurried a little bit and didn’t stick to the game plan.
“We couldn’t get through phases and attacking discipline and attacking shape and that really cost us and then when it didn’t go well it got worse and worse.
“The crucial try was the intercept score when they had two men down. I think that was the crucial score and all the credit goes to France, they were really good.
“The positives are that if we are going to execute our game plan and be better in a few key areas, then we can definitely compete at this level. That’s the key area for us as coaches, players and for this age grade.”
Georgia’s prolific maul came to the fore in their resounding 55-17 win over Scotland in Round 3 but despite their numerical advantage at Benetton’s Stadio Comunale di Monigo, their forward-centric approach faded in the heat.
However, the three weeks in Italy were undoubtedly crucial for the players’ development with the junior World Cup cancelled and Georgia lacking game time give they are not involved in the Six Nations.
The senior side led the way with an unprecedented first Tier 1 victory over Italy in Batumi on Sunday with star of the show Davit Niniashvili still eligible for the Summer Series and Kilasonia believes a change in tack can help ensure the future remains bright for Georgian rugby.
He added: “Another thing we have to pick up is that we have to learn how to change the game style.
“I think we definitely could have achieved more. Any game against Tier 1 countries is a great opportunity for us in any case. In some games we could have been better, especially against France.”