It was a case of seventh time lucky in Llanelli, with Wales picking up their first victory in nine months.
It was not a pretty affair at Parc y Scarlets, particularly as the rain drove down in the second half. Despite poor discipline in the first half Georgia were solid but questions will still linger over Wayne Pivac’s side.
Welsh rugby fans growing impatient from their losing streak had been wondering how some fresh blood would impact their performances. And this game gave some indication.
Granted, Georgia do not provide the same sort of challenge that England will next week, but there will be a certain degree of cautious optimism in how newcomers in fly-half Callum Sheedy and wing Louis Rees-Zammit both made their mark, sharing the first half points between them.
The maxim is that you can only play what is front of you and Wales did this well, putting their set-piece demons from Dublin behind them as they dominated the Lelos with their scrum.
Justin Tipuric led well by example as captain. As the forwards put in the heavy-lifting to gain and maintain territory, a scrum penalty gave fly-half Sheedy the opportunity to score his first Test points with at the 10-minute mark.
The successful kick didn’t just settle the men in red to take advantage of Georgia’s ill-discipline. The 25-year-old Sheedy visibly grew in confidence and seemed to grow more into the game from that point.
There had been much speculation as to who the Bristol Bears man would declare for on the Test arena considering he was tri-qualified and flirted with Wales and Ireland at under-age level before playing for England in an uncapped game against the Barbarians last year. Cardiff born and bred, Sheedy looked comfortable in his first start after making his debut off the bench last week.
It was a similar story for 19 year-old wing Rees-Zammit, who dazzled in his Premiership breakthrough with Gloucester last season. After a sustained period of Welsh pressure close to the Georgian line after a few near misses, Rees-Zammit went over in the corner after a pass from Sheedy which came after good work from centre Nick Tompkins and scrum-half Kieran Hardy.
The Lelos rallied as the Welsh seemed to lose focus in the dying minutes of the half. The scoreline going into the interval after Tedo Abzhandadze’s penalty kick drifted left was 10-0.
Driving sheets of rain heralded the start of the second half. There was a sense of more of the same as the Welsh continued dominate possession but could not build more of a scoring platform. At the 50-minute mark, Sheedy kicked another penalty.
The game became fragmented from then on as a flurry of replacements came on for both sides and the game froze when Tipuric looked to be knocked out.
Considering their dominance in possession earlier in the game, Wales might have expected to capitalise on the one-man advantage but, despite a great burst from blindside James Botham, the grandson of Sir Ian, on his Wales on his debut, they could not.
Part of the reason Georgia frustrated Wales was the work of replacement scrum-half Gela Aprasidze of Montpellier. He helped to up the pace of his side’s attack.
Wales could have had an uncomfortable closing passage as Georgia pushed in attack, but the hosts seemed to re-locate their spark and this time around Rees-Zammit was the creator, setting up replacement Rhys Webb.
Wales attempted to finish with a flourish but Georgia continued to tackle well. It was not the most convincing scoreline, but a young Wales side showed a glimmer of a new era.
Scoring: 3-0 Sheedy pen; 8-0 Rees-Zammit try, 10-0 Sheedy; 13-0 Sheedy pen; 18-0 Webb.
Wales: L Williams (I Lloyd 58), J McNicholl (J Holmes 40), N Tompkins, J Williams, L Rees-Zammit, C Sheedy, K Hardy (R Webb 56); W Jones (N Smith 67), E Dee (S Parry 70), S Lee (L Brown 62), J Ball, S Davies (C Hill 62), J Botham, J Tipuric (J Davies 56), A Wainwright.
Georgia: L Khmaladze, A Tabutsadze (D Tapladze 77), G Kveseladze, M Sharikadze, S Todua (T Mchedlidze 77), T Abzhandadze, V Lobzhanidze (G Aprasidze 57); M Nariashvili (G Gogichashvili 54), J Bregvadze (G Chkoidze 59), B Gigashvili (L Kaulashvili 54), G Kerdikoshvili, K Mikautadze (L Jaiani 38), O Giorgadze, B Saginadze, B Gorgadze.
Referee: Luke Pearce (England)