Pool B preview: Georgia v Romania
It's a long way for home for these two teams and yet the match has something of a local derby about it.
The countries share a border, share the Orthodox faith, share a common saint in St Antim, play in the same FIRA-AER competition and many of their top players play in France, the European Nations Cup, which they seem to take turns to win. And they play a similar- tight-forward orientated game.
They are two teams that will know each other really well, and being neighbours they will be all the more eager to win this Pool B match in Palmerston North at the 2011 Rugby World Cup.
Of course, both teams have chosen their best sides.
Both teams did well against Scotland before losing - Romania 34-24 and Georgia 15-6. Georgia had an excellent first half against England before going down 41-10 while England beat Romania 67-3. Romania also lost to Argentina (43-8) and will join the other 'lesser' teams on a journey home. Georgia still have to play the Pumas.
This is a game that could be a massive bore. It could also be an absorbing encounter which could go either way.
Players to Watch:
Backs usually catch the eye most but it may not be the case in this match which will be above all a contest between two strong, aggressive packs of forwards but look out for wings Alexander Todua of Georgia and Stefan Ciuntu of Romania - if the ball gets that far.
But it is the forward battle that would concern you. Flanks Ovidiu Tonita and Mamuka Gorgodze are powerful men and as good as any other tough men at the World Cup. Marius Tincu is an excellent player and one of the great personalities of the World Cup.
Head to Head: The contest here will be strong man against strong man, Titan against Titan, Sohrab against Rustum, Ilia Zedginidze against Valentin Ursache, Paulica Ion against David Kinchagishvili, Dimitri Basilaia against Daniel Carpo and David Zirakashvili against Mihaita Lazar, but above all Mamuka Gorgodze against Ovidiu Tonita, for Gorgodze and Tonita are the best, strongest players in each of their teams. The clash between those two flanks could be an epic battle.
In the European Nations Cup, each side has played five matches in a tournament that is half way through. Georgia have won all five while Romania have lost to Georgia and Portugal. But there is not much in it.
The two teams, close neighbours both with strong rugby constituencies, have not played all that often because Georgia used to be a part of the USSR. In fact they have met only 14 times. Romania have won eight, Georgia six, but Georgia have won four of the last five.
2011: Georgia won 18-11 in Tblisi
2010: Romania won 22-10 in Bucharest
2009: Georgia won 28-23 in Tblisi
This time they meet on neutral ground.
Prediction: A really tough call - two evenly matches, equally determined teams. Let's say Romania to win by five points or fewer.
Georgia: 15 Revaz Gigauri, 14 Revaz Gigauri, 13 David Kacharava, 12 Tedo Zibzibadze, 11 Alexander Todua, 10 Merab Kvirikashvili, 9 Irakli Abuseridze (captain), 8 Dimitri Basilaia, 7 Mamuka Gorgodze, 6 Giorgi Chkhaidze, 5 Vakhtang Maisuradze, 4 Ilia Zedginidze, 3 David Zirakashvili, 2 Jaba Bregvadze, 1 David Kinchagishvili.
Replacements: 16 Goderzi Shvelidze, 17 Vasil Kakovin, 18 Levan Datunashvili, 19 Givi Berishvili, 20 Bidzina Samkharadze, 21 Irakli Chkhikvadze, 22 Malkhaz Urjukashvili.
Romania: 15 Iulian Dumitras, 14 Stefan Ciuntu, 13 Csaba Gal, 12 Tiberius Dimofte, 11 Madalin Lemnaru, 10 Danut Dumbrava, 9 Florin Surugiu, 8 Daniel Carpo, 7 Ovidiu Tonita, 6 Mihai Macovei, 5 Cristian Petre, 4 Valentin Ursache, 3 Paulica Ion, 2 Marius Tincu (captain), 1 Mihaita Lazar.
Replacements: 16 Bogdan Suman, 17 Silviu Florea, 18 Valentin Poparlan, 19 Daniel Ianus, 20 Valentin Calafeteanu, 21 Constantin Gheara, 22 Florin Vlaicu.
Date: Wednesday, 28 September 2011
Kick-off: 19.30 (06.30 GMT)
Venue: Arena Manawatu, Palmerston North
Expected weather conditions: Cloudy with a high of 14°C, dropping to 4°C.
Referee: Dave Pearson (England)
Assistant referees: Romain Poite (France), Vinny Munro (New Zealand)
TMO: Giulio De Santis (Italy)
By Paul Dobson