WALES maintained their autumn tradition by making extremely hard work of their ‘fourth’ Test when beating Georgia 13-6 in Cardiff, but the prospect of uncontested scrums at the death left a sour taste in the mouth.

A try by Dragons wing Hallam Amos proved to be the difference between the sides but the hosts had to defend into the 85th minute at Principality Stadium.

With the Georgians enjoying scrum dominance and tighthead Tomas Francis in the sin bin for a daft offence, a penalty try seemed possible to level the scores.

But with novice Dragons prop Leon Brown unable to return to the field (his substitution was tactical but he cramped up on the bench), the Lelos were unable to use their biggest weapon and Wales escaped.

But they endured a second half horror show against a visiting side keen to make a statement while being frozen out of the Six Nations, adding Georgia to Japan, Samoa, Fiji and Tonga on the list of nations that have made life uncomfortable.

Errors and indiscipline killed Wales; they were close to break free in the first half but didn’t, giving encouragement to the Georgians and increasing their own frustration as the clock ticked on.

It was never going to be easy against a side boasting a glut of professional heavy-hitters from France and England but the hosts really didn’t help themselves with their lack of savviness.

Gatland had rung the changes after the encouraging display in defeat against Australia and few of the new boys pressed their claims for inclusion against New Zealand.

They will have learnt from a taste of Test rugby at the stadium but the selection meeting for the All Blacks encounter will be a short one, the midfield partner for Owen Williams the main call to be made while Dan Lydiate could be an option in the back row after a typically whole-hearted defensive effort.

Other than that it’s just numbers 16 to 23 that need to be sorted for what is the most daunting date of the series.

Hooker Elliot Dee made his Test bow as a late replacement while three of his Dragons teammates were given a starting chance with Amos on the wing after his try-scoring exploits against the Wallabies while tighthead Leon Brown and lock Cory Hill were expected to have a stern examination against the beefy Georgian pack.

It turned into a chastening afternoon for Brown, dynamic around the paddock as usual but given a tough time at the scrum as the game progressed.

That is to be expected for a 21-year-old with 12 games to his name in senior rugby (11 Dragons, Wallabies Test) and the young prop has already shown the ability to learn from his mistakes.

And he won’t be the only one given a few horror moments to dissect in video analysis at the Vale Resort headquarters next week.

From the off it was clear that the teams had differing desires in terms of tempo, Wales shifting the ball and moving it quickly away from the contact area while the visitors wanted to contemplate matters at the breakdown.

The first chance came from a quick tap in the fifth minute when Rhys Webb went bursting into the 22 and combined with centre Owen Watkin and number eight Seb Davies only for wing Alex Cuthbert to knock on five metres out.

Instead Wales had to settle for a seventh-minute opener from Rhys Priestland’s boot when Georgia offended at the breakdown following a rampaging run by Brown.

They didn’t have to wait long for another close thing with desperate defence by Brive scrum-half Vasil Lobzhanidze denying Cuthbert over the line after a slick move a lineout.

The opportunity from the resulting scrum went begging when the Georgians put the shove on and scrappy ball was shovelled on and intercepted.

With fly-half Rhys Priestland pulling the strings nicely, Wales were bossing matters but couldn’t crack the Lelos, mainly through their own errors.

But on 18 minutes they finally got the try their efforts deserved with Amos getting a simple finish down the left after a lovely combination by Priestland and centre Scott Williams.

The 10’s floated pass was delightful and he was as accurate from the tee to make it 10-0.

And Amos thought he had a second in the 27th minute when he raced over for a ‘try’ that would have pleased defence coach Shaun Edwards as much as attack coach Rob Howley.

Wales soaked up 19 phases of Georgian hard running before Nicky Smith ripped the ball out and it was worked left for the Dragons winger to run away.

Alas, the TMO deemed that the rip had gone forward and instead of 17-0 it was 10-3 with loosehead Smith pinged from the resulting scrum for full-back Ioseb Matiashvili to smack over a penalty.

From then on it all got a bit scrappy but Wales stayed true to their desire to be more attack-minded with Priestland putting two kickable penalties into the corner rather than between the posts.

But the second, with the clock in the red, ended with hooker Kristian Dacey knocking on from the maul, leaving it 10-3 after a rather frustrating first half.

That frustration nearly grew after the resumption when a scrum penalty was followed by Toulon tighthead Levan Chilachava nearly catching them napping when peeling off a lineout drive only for Cuthbert and eventually Webb to tackle him into touch five metres out.

The Lelos were starting to get total scrum dominance, encouraged by Wales handling errors, and one powerful set piece enabled Matiashvili to make it 10-6 with half an hour left.

That’s how it remained going into the final quarter until a high tackle on replacement scrum-half Aled Davies enabled Priestland to restore a seven-point buffer.

Wales had the chance to stretch a score clear only to turn down three points in favour of the corner… and then botch the lineout, prompting the introduction of Dee.

That baffling decision was made all the more infuriating when Georgia went down the other end and hammered away at the line, winning a penalty from which they opted for a scrum by the posts, then another, then another as the clock reached 73 minutes.

But then the Welsh pack delivered with Tomas Francis earning his corn for a penalty to relieve the pressure.

However, the hosts once again failed to stretch clear and a penalty as the clock passed 80 allowed Georgia to go to the corner.

The drive was sacked initially and then Francis daftly charged in from the side to gift a penalty, Georgia had to go for the corner instead of the scrum and Wales survived by the skin of their teeth.

Wales: L Williams (D Biggar 55), A Cuthbert, S Williams, O Watkin, H Amos, R Priestland, R Webb (A Davies 56), N Smith (W Jones 55), K Dacey (E Dee ), L Brown (T Francis 55), A Beard (T Faletau 74), C Hill, D Lydiate (Ospreys, captain), S Cross (J Navidi 40), S Davies (K Dacey 81).

Scorers: try – H Amos; conversion – R Priestland ; penalties – R Priestland (2)

Georgia: S Matiashvili, G Koshadze, D Katcharava, M Sharikadze (captain), M Modebadze, L Khmaladze (V Kolelishvili 45), V Lobzhanidze (G Begadze 55), M Nariashvili (K Asieshvili 66), J Bregvadze (S Mamukashvili 66), L Chilachava (S Bekoshvili 62-80), K Mikautadze, G Nemsadze (G Chkhaidza 65), L Lomidze, V Kolelishvili, B Bitsadze.

Scorers: penalties – S Matiashvili (2)

Referee: Mathieu Raynal (France)

Attendance: 55,310 Argus star man: Dan Lydiate