Scotland will hope to record back to back victories in Pool B when they take on Georgia on Wednesday in Invercargill.
The Scots earned a scrappy and unconvincing win over Romania in their opening game and coach Andy Robinson knows his side will need to perform a lot better in order to beat Georgia. Most of their squad are based in France and they are one of the biggest sides physically in the tournament. Robinson has made eleven changes to the side that defeated Romania and he insisted that the changes were due to the short period of time between games. He said: “The selection is based on the four-day turnaround from Saturday’s match and is about us continuing our winning start to the tournament with a victory over Georgia.
Georgia coach Richie Dixon – a Scot – is keen to show how far the national side has come from 2007, when they beat Namibia 30-0 before running the Irish close. He said: “We are looking to have a more balanced team and to show progress from that [Ireland] game way back in 2007. Like all other teams, we hope we have achieved that and now is the chance for that to be tested.”
The two sides have never met before and the game could be a lot closer then a lot of people think given the Georgian’s physicality and power and Scotland’s changed side.
Scotland go into the game off the back of an unusual game against minnows Romania. With just a few minutes left the Scots were facing defeat but two quick tries from Simon Danielli gave them all five points.
Wing Max Evans, prop Allan Jacobsen, Sean Lamont, and Kelly Brown are the only survivors from that opener. Lamont and Brown both make positional changes, with Lamont switching from centre to wing and Brown moving from the blindside flank to number eight. With Alastair Kellock left out of the 22, scrum-half Rory Lawson will lead. Outside of Dan Parks, Nick de Luca and Graeme Morrison fill the midfield, with full-back Rory Lamont joining brother Sean and Evans in what is a potent back three.
Jacobsen will pack down next to Scott Lawson at hooker, with Euan Murray coming in at tight head prop while it is no surprise that Robinson has opted for strength and size in the lock department. Jim Hamilton and Nathan Hines form an all-new heavy combination
Players to watch:
Georgia have a whole host of ‘massive’ forwards and their backs aren’t that small either but their human wrecking ball flanker is the man to watch. Mamuka Gorgodze or also known as ‘Gorgodzilla’ plays for Montpellier and helped them to the Top 14 final last season. He is over 6ft tall and weights just above 18 stone. He is bigger then most team’s prop forwards but Georgia’s pack is huge and Scotland will have to be on the very top of their game at set pieces.
Scotland’s hero from the opening game Simon Danielli isn’t even on the bench so you will have to watch out for Max Evans instead. He can play on the wing or in the centre and the Glasgow back has plenty of pace and power and his speed could be vital against a big Georgian outfit who might tire towards the end of the game.
Prediction: It will be a tough game for Scotland but their superior fitness, quality and experience should see them through to back to back wins and put them in a good position in Pool B
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 Al 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 (capt), 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 Kubriashvilini, 18 Giorgi Chkhaidze, 19 Viktor Kolelishvili, 20 Bidzina Samkharadze, 21 Lasha Khmaladze, 22 Malkhaz Urjukashvili.
Date: Wednesday, September 14
Venue: Rugby Park Stadium, Invercargill
Kick-off: 19:30 (7:30 GMT)
Referee: George Clancy (Ireland)
Assistant referees: Simon McDowell (Ireland), Tim Hayes (Wales)
Television match official: Shaun Veldsman (South Africa)