Friday, June 22, 2012

Canada vs Georgia Preview

The third and final home match for Canada in 2012 will take place in the rugby stronghold province of British Colombia on Saturday as Canada host Georgia. It is a key match up between two Tier Two sides who are officially ranked in the worlds Top 15. Canada go into the game ranked 13th and Georgia are ranked 15th after having dropped behind Fiji courtesy of losing to the USA last Saturday. World Rankings, however, count for little for both sides as both are yet to qualify for Rugby World Cup 2015 and as such the rankings of both come December 2012 is not going to factor into the draw. Both sides will start their roads to England 2015 with qualifying to get under way in 2013. 

Canada looked very impressive against Italy last weekend but found out the hard way that rugby begins and ends in the frontrow. Canada´ impressive backline and hard working backrowers were able to give the home side chances but the inability of the home side to withstand the Italian scrum proved decisive. Italy utterly dominated in the scrums, winning tightheads and bullying the Canadians backwards throughout. it resulted in Canada conceeding penalties which Kris Burton turned into points and it was the difference between a win and a loss. Georgia will have taken a lot out of seeing Italty impress so much up front as the Georgians have a scrum that can match it with anybody. The Lelos are quickly becoming considered as one of the best factories of props in the game. But the team named to face Canada is far from being a true representation of the qualities of The Lelos. 

Canadian coach, Kieran Crowley has made some interesting changes to the side that went down 25-16 vs Italy in Toronto last Saturday. Canadian legend, Ed Fairhurst ahs been given a recall at scrumhalf  to form a partnership in the halves with Matt Evans. Winger Phil MacKenzie has, interestingly, been moved to inside centre where he will form a partnership with the futrue in mind as the teams other winger vs Italy, Conor Trainor to start at outside centre. Replacing them on the wingers are DTH van der Merwe and Sean Duke. van der Merwe moves to the wing from centre. The forwards remain largely the same with six of the eight forwards who faced Italy retaining their places. The two changes see Tom Dolezel start in place of Hubert Buydens who was injured and his loss felt as the match went on in Toronto. Mike Pletch has been  named on the bench, being replaced at hooker by Andrew Tiedeman. 

History: The teams have met only twice in the past with each team winning one match. The first encounter took place at a neutral venue with Infinity Park in Glendale, Colorado, USA hosting what was a Churchill Cup match. Georgia fieled a weakened side, similar to the one to face Canada this weekened and the result was a lop-sided contest as Canada won 42-10 in June 2009. The other match was hosted by Georgia in the capital, Tblissi and saw the home side dominate the set piece. Georgia´ 22-15 win underlined the teams abilities and makes tomorrows match in Canada all the more interesting.   

Key Match-Up: Tom Dolezel vs Davit Zirakashvili features an amateur vs a Top 14 player with a big reputation. Davit Zirakashvili will be key for Georgia. Both props on the other side of the scrum, Jason Marshall and Mikheil Nariashvili are French absed with Marshal playing in the Pro d2 and Naraiashvili in the Top 14. Jebb Sinclair vs Vakhtang Maisuradze should be a good battle in the secondrow with Canada likely to have the better of play in this area. This match, however, will be all about playmaking opportunities with the clash of Matt Evans vs Merab Kvirikashvili being the more important one to watch for. Evans will look to play a running game while Kvirikashvili will be looking to play more of a ten-men-rugby style.

Prediction: The most famous player from both countries will not play as Canada´s Jamie Cudmore and Georgia´s Mamuka Gorgodze have both been given the month off after long seasons which included the French Top 14 and Rugby World Cup 2011. In the case of Gerogia, Gorgodze is just the tip of the iceburg, however, as virtually the entire starting lineup are reserves and fringe players. Canada, in contrast, have a team close to being the real deal, suggecting that this match will only go one way, that being a Canadian victory. Canada to win by 20 points

1 Tom Dolezel (Ontario Blues)
2 Andrew Tiedeman (Prairie Wolf Pack)
3 Jason Marshall (Stade Aurillacois, France)
4 Jebb Sinclair (Stormers, South Africa)
5 Tyler Hotson (London Scottish, England)
6 Tyler Ardron (Ontario Blues)
7 Chauncey O’Toole (The Rock)
8 Aaron Carpenter (Plymouth Albion, England)
9 Ed Fairhurst (BC Bears)
10 Matt Evans (Cornish Pirates, England)
11 Sean Duke (BC Bears)
12 Phil Mackenzie (London Welsh, England)
13 Conor Trainor (BC Bears)
14 DTH Van der Merwe (Glasgow Warriors, Scotland)
15 James Pritchard (Bedford Blues, England)


16 Mike Pletch (Ontario Blues)
17 Doug Woolridge (Ontario Blues)
18 Brett Beukeboom (Ontario Blues)
19 Nanyak Dala (Prairie Wolf Pack)
20 Sean White (BC Bears)
21 Jeff Hassler (Prairie Wolf Pack)
22 Ciaran Hearn (The Rock)

1 Mikheil Nariashvili 
2 Rezo Belkania 
3 Davit Zirakashvili 
4 Giorgi Chkhaidze 
5 Vakhtang Maisuradze 
6 Gia Labadze 
7 Giorgi Tkhilaishvili 
8 Beka Bitsadze 
9 Irakli Abuseridze 
10 Merab Kvirikashvili 
11 Lexo Gugava 
12 Tedo Zibzibadze 
13 Davit Kacharava 
14 Irakli Machkhaneli 
15 Irakli Kiasashvili 

16 Shalva Mamukashvili
17 Levan Chilachava
18 Shalva Sutiashvili
19 Givi Berishvili 
20 Bidzina Samkharadze
21 Lasha Malaghuradze
22 Sandro Todua

Georgia vs Canada, 2010

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