Georgia Vs USA Match Preview

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USA Rugby vs. Republic of GeorgiaWe want to welcome RWU Friend Ray’s Rugby. The match preview comes courtesy of his blog.

Tbilisi, Georgia: Both sides will field vastly different lineups despite the relative proximity of last year’s test, with only five Americans and four Georgians repeat starters. The Lelos are on a high following their scrappy win against Canada a week ago, while the Eagles will also be feeling good about themselves after an inspired performance, albeit a losing one, against the Maori in Philadelphia. Interestingly where the Canadian match took place in the national stadium in Tbilisi, this one has been allocated to the newly built and creatively named Rustavi Rugby Stadium, the home of Georgian premiership club Kharebi Bulls. The good news is that tickets have sold out, the catch being that the apparent capacity is only around 2,700. Georgia seem insulted by last years match against the USA by the 4,000 seat stadium in Glendale, Colorado. Lets take a look at the Georgia team to face USA:

1. David Khinchagishvili
2. Shalva Mamukashvili
3. David Kubriashvili
4. Konstantine Mikautadze
5. Levan Datunashvili
6.Shalva Sutiashvili
7. Mamuka Gorgodze (Cap)
8. Giorgi Chkhaidze
9. Giorgi Begadze
10. Lasha Khmaladze
11. Tedore Zibzibadze
12. Merab Sharikadze
13. David Kacharava
14. Tamaz Mchedlidze
15. Merab Kvirikashvili

16. Simon Maisuradze
17. Mikheil Nariashvili
18. Levan Chilachava
19. Giorgi Nemsadze
20. Giorgi Tkhilaishvili
21. Vazha Khutsishvili
22. Lasha Malaguradze
23. Beka Tsiklauri

Georgia_RugbyHead Coach Milton Haig has made only three changes to the side that faced Canada, two of them enforced. Last week’s villain Viktor Kolelishvili has been suspended giving lightweight flanker Shalva Sutiashvili a shot at openside flank, and captain Irakli Machkhaneli’s foot injury means former captain Tedo Zibzibadze, normally a center, lines up on the wing. Racing Metro prop Davit Khichagishvili exchanges his bench spot with Mikheil Nariashvili at loosehead.

Interestingly Mamuka Gorgodze has been selected as captain despite reportedly being injured during the fracas in Tbilisi. Tarbes lock Giorgi Nemsadze joins the bench, so too experienced flyhalf Lasha Malaguradze. Top goal kicker Merab Kvirikashvili is retained at fullback after being an injury doubt during the week. Now lets look at the USA Lineup to face Georgia.

1. Nick Wallace
2. Phil Thiel
3. Shawn Pittman
4. Graham Harriman
5. Samu Manoa
6. Todd Clever(C)
7. Derek Asbun
8. Cameron Dolan
9. Mike Petri
10. Adam Siddal
11. Tim Maupin
12. Andrew Suniula
13. Folau Niua
14. Blaine Scully
15. Chris Wyles

16. Zach Fenoglio
17. Oliver Kilifi
18. Eric Fry
19. Inaki Basauri
20. John Quill
21. Shaun Davies
22. Seamus Kelly
23. Luke Hume

USA Rugby vs. Republic of GeorgiaThe Eagles have added several professional players to their squad since arriving in Europe. Northampton powerhouse Samu Manoa adds some much needed weight to the second row, and Aviva Premiership regulars Blaine Scully and Chris Wyles come in at wing and fullback respectively. Scott LaValla, initially ruled out with a neck injury but since recalled, was not considered for selection as precaution, though Inaki Basauri and John Quill are among the reserves.

With Quill only recently recovered from knee surgery and short on game time, Derek Asbun has been picked to replace unavailable Peter Dahl at no7, while Adam Siddall is bumped up from fullback to flyhalf in light of the injury sustained by Toby L’Estrange. For many Eagle fans that might look like a blessing in disguise as the NYAC playmaker’s form has been short of spectacular this year, and Siddall at last has his opportunity to impress ahead of the World Cup qualifiers in March.

Two particularly interesting selections are that of Tim Maupin, making his official test debut, on the left wing and Folau Niua at centre. Maupin is a bold call ahead of Luke Hume, excellent against the Maori and consistently among the Eagles’ best performers, with his larger physical stature possibly preferred against the imposing Georgian wingers. Niua has already showed his attacking prowess with both the 7s side and in his limited cameos, albeit as a flyhalf, and replaces another who impressed last week, Cal-Berkeley’s Seamus Kelly. Niua is untested as a midfielder at this level, and will be up against two-time World Cup participant Davit Kacharava.

The American backs certainly have a more offensive-minded look to them this week, though one wonders how many opportunities they will be given against a bloody-minded Georgian pack who prefer keep the ball in tight. The forwards must front up at the scrum, and Cameron Dolan’s ability to disrupt at the lineout will be critical in combating the rolling maul that steamrolled Canada in the second half. Above all they must play their own game and avoid being sucked into the trench warfare that was the undoing of the Canadians a week ago.

If they can achieve close to parity in possession, the United States could become the first team from the Americas to achieve victory on Georgian soil. It’s a tall order but one that’s essential to prove last week’s performance wasn’t a fluke. Take the Americans to upset the hosts and win a ferocious battle by 5.

Date: Saturday, November 16, 5:00am EST (NYC),
Location: Rustavi Rugby Stadium, Rustavi
Referee: Mike Fraser (NZRU)
Assistants: Ian Davies (WRU) & Chris Williams (WRU)
TMO: n/a

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About Rays Rugby 24 Articles
I have played rugby since 1993, and began coaching and refereeing as well in 2005. I started writing in 1998, first published on the old Rugby Canada website followed by the National Rugby Post, Goff On Rugby, and I featured as a columnist for the new-defunct Canadian Rugby News before taking a long writing sabbatical while I pursued other interests. I have kept up my knowledge of the game, however, and have returned to comment and inform, only this time on all rugby matters, not just those Canadian. Thanks for reading!