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Pool B preview: Scotland v Georgia

Tue, 13 Sep 2011 00:00
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Scotland coach Andy Robinson hopes their narrow escape against Romania is the ideal wake-up call ahead of the tricky Pool B clash against Georgia on Wednesday.

Robinson has made 11 changes to the side that were stretched 34-24 by the supposed minnows of the group for their second game in five days.

But it was the experience of coming within eight minutes of being held by Romania that could prove the galvanizing factor for Scotland.

However, the display of The Oaks, who led Scotland until the 70th minute, will undoubtedly also inspire the Georgians, led by former Scotland coach Richie Dixon.

Kelly Brown, one of only two forwards retained, said: "The biggest thing from that game was that we won, but it was a wake call and we know there is a huge amount to work on

"There's no doubt the other teams in this pool will look at what Romania did and target our scrum and the pick-and-go area. Georgia will put us under pressure up front but it’s up to us, as a pack, to respond to that.

"As a squad we realise that if we don't play close to our potential we can be put under pressure by any team.

"But if we do play to our best then we can also beat any team as we proved against South Africa, Australia and Argentina. But this will focus everyone on trying to impose our game on opposition."

Many of Scotland's best performances in recent years have come on the back of their poorest and Robinson, who matched Ian McGeechan’s best run of four straight wins in 2002, will hope history repeats itself in mid-week.

Prop Allan Jacobsen and wing Max Evans also have a second run as does Sean Lamont, who switches from inside centre to left wing.

Graeme Morrison is passed fit while British Lions Euan Murray and Nathan Hines also start. Scrumhalf Rory Lawson is re-called and is handed the captaincy. He will partner Dan Parks who returns at flyhalf.

He said: "We got a bit of a fright on Saturday against Romania and if ever we needed a little bit of wake-up call, that was it. But we came out of that with five points, and now we're looking forward to Georgia."

Players to Watch:

For Scotland: Inside centre Graeme Morrison is growing into international rugby with leaps and bounds and is very underrated in the heart of the midfield. At the back of the scrum No.8 Kelly Brown is a world class loose forward who will make his presence felt all round the park.

For Georgia: Several of the Georgian players have experience in the French Top 14 in particular, where it has become common to see emerging talent from Georgia - so much so that flank Mamuka Gorgodze was voted the best overseas player in French rugby.

Head to Head: Up front there will be a real battle, as Georgia are renowned for their scrummaging abilities, with props David Khinchagishvili and David Zirakashvili capable of competing with the best in the world. Recalled Scottish tighthead Euan Murray and highly rated loosehead Allan Jacobsen will need to prove their worth.

Recent Results:
The two sides have never met.

Prediction: Scotland may struggle to overcome their four day turnaround from the win over Romania, and will need to be at their best. Georgia have come a long way in the past four years and won't be pushovers in the competition. Scotland to win, but only by about 10.

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The teams:

Scotland: 15 Rory Lamont, 14 Max Evans, 13 Nick De Luca, 12 Graeme Morrison, 11 Sean Lamont, 10 Dan Parks, 9 Rory Lawson (captain), 8 Kelly Brown, 7 Ross Rennie, 6 Ally Strokosch, 5 Jim Hamilton, 4 Nathan Hines, 3 Euan Murray, 2 Scott Lawson, 1 Allan Jacobsen.
Replacements: 16 Ross Ford, 17 Geoff Cross, 18 Alasdair Dickinson, 19 Richie Gray, 20 Richie Vernon, 21 Chris Cusiter, 22 Chris Paterson.

Georgia: 15 Revaz Gigauri, 14 Irakli Machkhaneli, 13 David Kacharava, 12 Tedo Zibzibadze, 11 Alexander Todua, 10 Merab Kvirikashvili, 9 Irakli Abuseridze (captain), 8 Dimitri Basilaia, 7 Mamuka Gorgodze, 6 Shalva Sutiashvili, 5 Vakhtang Maisuradze, 4 Levan Datunashvili, 3 David Zirakashvili, 2 Jaba Bregvadze, 1 David Khinchagishvili.
Replacements: 16 Akvsenti Giorgadze, 17 David Kubriashvili, 18 Giorgi Chkhaidze, 19 Viktor Kolelishvili, 20 Bidzina Samkharadze, 21 Lasha Khmaladze, 22 Malkhaz Urjukashvili.

Date: Wednesday, September 14
Venue: Rugby Park, Invercargill
Kick-off: 19.30 (07.30 GMT)
Expected weather: Overcast with some rain showers. High of 11°C, low of 5°C.
Referee: George Clancy (Ireland)
Assistant referees: Simon McDowell (Ireland), Tim Hayes (Wales)
TMO: Shaun Veldsman (South Africa)

AFP and rugby365.com

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