An historical match is to take place tommorrow in the capital city of former USSR republic and the nation of Soviet dictator, Josef Stalin as Georgia host the US Eagles for the first time ever. The popularity of rugby in the country is strong as Georgia has previously filled the 65,000 Boris Paichadze National Stadium inthe capital city, Tblissi which will be the setting for Georgia vs the USA tommorrow. The match will be broadcast live on the internet and can be viewed simply by clicking on the following link: http://1tv.ge/Live.aspx?LanguageID=1
Since France 2007 Georgia are undefeated at home with their largest win being a 77-3 crushing of Germany in February. During this time Georgia has won 80% of its international matches having played 22 matches and won 17 of them with one draw vs Portugal. The only match not against European opposition was last weekends win vs Canada. Georgia have played the USA once before - in the 2009 Churchill Cup in Denver, Colorado which the USA Eagles won 31-13 against an under strength side. The Lelos at home and at full strength will be a totally different prospect.
It is to be a game of two contrasting styles. The Europeans are a side built on forward power and are famous for being able to hold their own against all opponents in the forwards. In Rugby World Cup 2007 Georgia underlined this by losing 14-10 to powerhouses Ireland in a match they very nearly won. Last weekend Georgia hosted Canada and won 22-15. Georgia were able to bully the Canadians up front and showed their superiority in the scrum which totally took the Canadians apart. Considering the Canadians have a better scrum than the United States, the Lelos will certainly target this area and look to play a tight game against the USA who will certainly have a superior backline. The Georgian front row is very formidable consisting of three players some of the best French Top 14 teams in Goderdzi Shvelidze (Montpellier), Akvsenti Giorgadze (Castres) and David Kubriashvili (Toulon).
The United States Eagles has been defeated in non-internationals this year against opposition ranging from Saracens to France A but have not lost an actual international match in over a year. Their last defeat was vs Canada in July 2009 in a Rugby World Cup Qualifier in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada. Since this time the USA have defeated Uruguay 27-22 and 27-6, Russia 39-22 and most recently Portugal 22-17. The strenght of the USA is clearly different to Georgia with the country´s best weapon being its back three which can rival the back three of any team in the world with Chris Wyles (Saracens), Zee Ngwenya (Biarritz) and Kevin Swiryn (Agen) all in great form for the European clubs. The frontrow of Mate Moeakiola, Phillip Thiel, and Shawn Pittman are no pushovers and will be looking to prove this vs the Lelos but there is no denying the difference in strenghts of the two teams.
The general interesting matchup is Backrow vs Backrow with the better backrow surely the victorious side. Ther treal battle to influence this game, however, will be the battle of the pivots at flyhalf. Lasha Malaguradze vs Nese Malifa will be the difference between a win and a loss in a match with two teams playing vastly different rugby and with vastly different strenghts. Malaguradze is a very taletned player consideredby some as Georgia´s first worldclass back. Malifa, is a running flyhalf not known for his kicking and will have a better set of backs to work with than Malaguardze.
A match of contrasting styles with the USA looking to all of their experience in playing Rugby Sevens and to use width. Canada showed how not to play against Georgia - do not try to take them on up front as the Lelos will not only be better in this area but they will want to be attacked here. The USA have named an attacking backline and one that could well be the starting side chosen for New Zealand 2011. In total, fourteen of the players were in the victorious side vs Georgia in 2009. Georgia have a very different side, however. The USA will prove to be too strong in the backs especially from 11-15 with a ser of superior players and a better strategy. This will be the difference as the USA will win a close game by 5 points.
1 Mate Moeakiola (Bobigny 93, France)
2 Phillip Thiel (Life University)
3 Shawn Pittman (London Welsh, England)
4 Samu Manoa (San Francisco Golden Gate)
5 Hayden Smith (Saracens, England)
6 Louis Stanfill (Mogliano, Italy)
7 Todd Clever (Suntory, Japan)
8 Inaki Basauri (L’aquila, Italy)
9 Tim Usasz (Nottingham, England)
10 Nese Malifa (Glendale)
11 Kevin Swiryn (Agen, France)
12 Andrew Suniula (Chicago Griffins)
13 Paul Emerick (Ulster, Ireland)
14 Takudzwa Ngwenya (Biarritz, France)
15 Chris Wyles (Saracens, England)
Reserves: 16 Chris Biller (San Francisco Golden Gate), 17 Mike MacDonald (Leeds Carnegie, England), 18 Scott Lavalla (Dublin University, Ireland), 19 Nic Johnson (Denver Barbarians), 20 Mike Petri (Sale Sharks, England), 21 Taivalu Enosa (Belmont Shore), 22 Seta Tuilevuka (Montpelier, France)