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home struggle If Andy Farrell hoped Ireland would lift the standard against poorly-rated Georgia then it was a bad day for the coach

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Ireland and Georgia players shake hands after the Autumn Nations Cup match at the Aviva Stadium

Ireland and Georgia players shake hands after the Autumn Nations Cup match at the Aviva Stadium

Ireland and Georgia players shake hands after the Autumn Nations Cup match at the Aviva Stadium

Ireland 23 Georgia 10

Park Ireland’s awfulness for a moment. This is why it’s so important to give Tier 2 nations a crack. In the last five weeks Georgia have played Scotland, England, Wales and now Ireland.

Even a World Cup would throw up an easier pool. Typically, they wrap up each of those tournaments in better nick than they started, wondering how good they could be if they had regular opposition like that. Same here. They look a lot better now than when they started in Edinburgh.

Ireland are the polar opposite. Andy Farrell mixed it up and gave lots of time to those on periphery, and came away with the square root of nothing. If he had hoped they would lift the standard against poorly rated opponents then it was a bad day for the coach.

On a lovely mild afternoon the case of Finlay Bealham was a good illustration of a good walk spoiled. A tight head by trade, his versatility opens doors for him to more caps. It would have been more useful to leave him on for the full 80 - despite him conceding four penalties - and give Cian Healy a day off. The problem was that the discomfort was widespread. Help was needed.

When this was still a contest after the hour mark it was if the penny dropped for the home team. This wasn’t what they had scripted. These fellas are refusing to go away. Worse, they are enjoying it. And with that realisation Ireland’s game got looser, their skills looked ropey, their resolve looked weak.

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Ireland's Chris Farrell is tackled by Georgia's Beka Saginadze

Ireland's Chris Farrell is tackled by Georgia's Beka Saginadze

Ireland's Chris Farrell is tackled by Georgia's Beka Saginadze

Vasil Lobzhanidze of Georgia is tackled by Chris Farrell of Ireland during the Autumn Nations Cup match at the Aviva Stadium. Photo by Ramsey Cardy/Sportsfile

As the game rounded the final bend Ireland had conceded nine penalties, and had no control on the game. They had also conceded the best try of the contest, a brilliant effort finished by Giorgi Kveseladze. With the clock in the red, the same player smashed CJ Stander as the number eight carried off the back of a close-in scrum. He had a great day out.

There were no positives for Ireland. Scotland, next weekend’s opponents in the Aviva, will fancy their chances against a side low on confidence.

Decent in the first half, at the end of which they lead 20-7 with tries by Billy Burns and Hugo Keenan, they got worse the longer the second half wore on. Burns had to be replaced by Ross Byrne, so if his condition worsens then Farrell has selection issues at 10 as well as concerns about morale. His players looked thoroughly miserable with their lot.

Whatever about the set-piece, Ireland’s phase play is now in real trouble. Predictable and one-dimensional, Georgia were not over-stretched in dealing either with men carrying or kicking in behind them.

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Ireland and Georgia compete in a maul

Ireland and Georgia compete in a maul

Ireland and Georgia compete in a maul

They had a contender for try of the tournament ruled out when Stuart McCloskey’s touchdown was brought back for a forward pass by Jacob Stockdale. Coming soon after the tries from Burns and Keenan it would have given Ireland a cushion, and some confidence. That they needed it at all is a worry.

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Having dodged a bullet there the Georgians warmed to the task, and came out for the second half fired up and focused. Over the course of that long, drawn out and fruitless 40 minutes, the home team looked stressed. Their sole return was a penalty from Ross Byrne, to match one from Tedo Abzhandadze. The plan hadn’t factored in the need to kick for goal to settle the troops. A long week looms ahead.

Ireland: J Stockdale; H Keenan, C Farrell, S McCloskey, K Earls (S Daly 62); B Burns (R Byrne 46), C Murray (K Marmion 57); F Bealham (C Healy 57), R Herring (D Heffernan 66), A Porter (J Ryan ht), I Henderson, J Ryan (capt)(Q Roux 62), T Beirne, CJ Stander, W Connors (P O’Mahony 62)

Georgia: S Matiashvili; A Tabutsadze, G Kveseladze, M Sharikadze (D Niniashvili 66), T Mchedlidze (D Tapladze 66); T Abzhandadze, V Lobzhanidze (M Alania 73); M Nariashvili (L Kaulashvili 50), S Mamukashvili (G Chkoidze 9), B Gigashvili (G Melikdze 61), N Cheishvili (G Javahkia 61), L Jaiani (G Melikidze 63), B Saginadze, T Jalagonia, B Gorgadze (M Gacechiladze 62).

Referee: M Raynal (France)

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