Wales 43-19 Georgia: Louis Rees-Zammit hat-trick sees Gatland's side top Pool C

Wales' Louis Rees-Zammit in action against Georgia Credit: PA

Wales have finished top of their Rugby World Cup pool after claiming a bonus point 43-19 win over Georgia.

But it almost turned into a tricky afternoon when Georgia cut a 17-point lead to just five midway through the second half.

The first 15 minutes of the match were scrappy. Wales offered some good carries but gave away two sloppy breakdown penalties in the Georgia 22.

But then Tommy Reffell charged down a clearance kick and then won a breakdown penalty shortly after. It gave Wales perfect field position and tight-head prop Tomas Francis crashed over for his third Test try from short range. Sam Costelow added the extras.

  • Head Coach Warren Gatland said it wasn't pretty but Wales got the job done

A scrum penalty in the 22nd minute netted Wales a territorial gain again. A backline move seemed to stutter but Costelow weighted his pass perfectly to beat the Georgian defence and send Liam Williams over for the second try.

As the game approached the half hour mark, the Wales fly-half chipped over a penalty to extend the lead to 17-0.

Towards the end of the first half, Welsh indiscipline gave Georgia access to the 22 for the first time and they made it pay. Warren Gatland's side defended the driving maul well initially but when it was spun wide, captain Merab Sharikadze crashed over, with Luka Matkava adding the extras.

Star man Louis Rees-Zammit continued to shine, scoring a hat-trick. Credit: PA

Wales went into the sheds at the break with a 10-point lead but had eased off after taking a commanding lead.

Georgia came bearing gifts at the start of the second half. Attacking on the Welsh 10 metre line, Giorgi Kveseladze threw an awful pass that was scooped up by George North.

One pass found Louis Rees-Zammit and the outcome was inevitable as he cantered over from the halfway line. Costelow slotted the conversion.

The third quarter of the match went on to be a bit of a non-event, though it was played almost exclusively in Wales' half.

There were injury concerns for Wales though, with No. 8 Taulupe Faletau leaving the pitch clutching his arm. Credit: PA

Eventually the pressure told and replacement Vano Karkadze crashed his way over from a few metres out. Matkava clipped over the extra two points.

Another cheap penalty shortly after the restart put Georgia back in Wales' half and some weak defence on the far side saw Davit Niniashvili round Nicky Smith and shrug off Gareth Davies to score a brilliant try. The conversion was missed but the lead had been cut to five points.

Costelow then missed a long range penalty and Georgia cleared but Wales counter-attacked.

Nick Tompkins went in search of space and quick hands under pressure from North released full-back Williams. Rees-Zammit won the race to the chip over the top to score his second of the match. Costelow converted well from the touchline to ease the pressure.

There was concern in back-play, though, as Taulupe Faletau left the field clutching his arm.

Georgia North finished the game in style, scoring a try with the last play of the match. Credit: PA

A melee erupted in the 70th minute. Taine Basham was penalised for an innocuous high tackle on Niniashvili, which the Georgian winger took exception to. He grabbed the Welshman by the scruff and almost all players piled into a ruckus that spilled over into the Welsh bench.

Both players were then sent to the sin bin.

Soon after, Rees-Zammit completed his hat-trick. He kicked into the space that Niniashvili would have been defending and raced onto the end of it to score, puttiung the result beyond doubt.

But there was still time for North to cross in the corner for one final try.

Wales will now face either Japan or Argentina in the quarter-final next Saturday in Marseille.

During the warm-up, fly-half Gareth Anscombe pulled out of the match with a groin injury and looked distraught as he left the field.

Sam Costelow replaced him in the starting line-up and Dan Biggar, who has been battling a pectoral injury since the Australia game, moved onto the bench.

  • Warren Gatland addressed Wales' injury worries after the match

"Gareth Anscombe did some kicking before the game and felt something in his groin before kick off," Wales boss Gatland told ITV Sport after the match.

"With Taulupe Faletau, I haven't spoken to the medics, but it didn't look great did it?"

Wales: Liam Williams; Louis Rees-Zammit, George North, Nick Tompkins, Rio Dyer; Sam Costelow, Tomos Williams; Gareth Thomas, Dewi Lake (C), Tomas Francis; Will Rowlands, Dafydd Jenkins; Aaron Wainwright, Tommy Reffell, Taulupe Faletau.

Reps: Elliot Dee, Nicky Smith, Henry Thomas, Christ Tshiunza, Taine Basham, Gareth Davies, Dan Biggar, Mason Grady.

Georgia: Lasha Khmaladze; Akaki Tabutsadze, Giorgi Kveseladze, Merab Sharikadze (C), Davit Niniashvili; Luka Matkava, Vasil Lobzhanidze; Guram Gogichashvili, Shalva Mamukashvili, Beka Gigashvili; Nodar Cheishvili, Konstantine Mikautadze; Mikheil Gachechiladze, Beka Saginadze, Tornike Jalagonia.

Reps: Vano Karkadze, Nika Abuladze, Irakli Aptsiauri, Vladimer Chachanidze, Giorgi Tsutskiridze, Gela Aprasidze, Tedo Abzhandadze, Demur Tapladze.