Scots ready to take on Georgia's strong men
INVERCARGILL, 13 Sept. - Scotland will be warding off another attack from a Rugby World Cup outsider when they face Georgia in their second Pool B match at Rugby Park Stadium in Invercargill on Wednesday.
The seventh-ranked team just held it together against Romania in their RWC 2011 opener on Saturday. Romania surged ahead 24-21 with 13 minutes remaining before Scotland fought their way back to win 34-24.
Now the Scots must face another side with equally strong forwards. Georgia coach Richie Dixon, who is Scottish, has identified the Lelos’ scrum as their point of reckoning.
“We are confident in our ability to scrum,” said Dixon. “I think Georgia has built a reputation on the fact that their forwards are good at scrummaging and our aim is to maintain that."
Dixon, however, admits Scotland do have one significant advantage over the Lelos, who will be playing the first of their four Pool B matches.
'Hit the ground running'
"Our problem is that Scotland now have a game under their belt and we are coming in cold," he said.
"It's really up to us to make sure that when we hit the ground, we hit the ground running."
Competing at their third Rugby World Cup since debuting in 2003, Georgia came to New Zealand after securing a clean sweep of their eight European Nations Cup matches.
Even though Georgia's RWC 2011 team have been together for only four months, Dixon, also a former Scotland coach, believes the collective is a powerful one.
“The Georgian team understands that the sum of the parts is much greater than the individuals,” said Dixon.
The 30-man squad, ranked 16th in the world, features 23 players associated with French clubs. Eight of the 23 compete in the French Top 14.
'Best foreigner' in top tier
Lock Mamuka 'Gorgodzilla' Gorgodze's performances at Montpellier in the 2010/11 season led to him being named 'best foreigner' in France's top-tier clubs by sports daily L'Equipe.
For Georgia's opener against Scotland, Dixon has decided to use Gorgodze as a flanker.
"We feel that for this particular game, this particular combination is the way we want to go," he said.
Tedo Zibzibadze and David Kacharav will man the three-quarter line, while Georgia's pack will be propped by David Khagishvili and David Zirakashvili.
With Georgia’s scrum in mind, Scotland have kept only four players from the team from the Romania match.
Max Evans and Allan Jacobsen remain as wing and prop respectively while Sean Lamont moves from centre to wing. Kelly Brown shifts from flanker to number 8.
'We need to be very physical'
“It's a cracking side that we've selected,” said Scotland's English coach Andy Robinson, indicating the changes are not a negative assessment of the nine players from the Romanian match not in the XV against Georgia.
"It's very difficult for the players to play two matches in four days.
"We need to be very physical and be able to smash the Georgians to the floor.”
Robinson has also put his faith in scrum half Rory Lawson to lead the charge against the Georgians in place of captain Alastair Kellock.
Lawson pledged the team will not give Georgia the opportunity to take a lead, as they did with Romania.
“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,” he said.
“There’s a real determination to go into the match and show Georgia what we’re about.”
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