Friday, November 15, 2013

Strong USA team to tackle Georgia in Tbilisi

Photo Rugby Wrap Up: Samu Manoa named in the second-row 
IRB Rankings, pride and Rugby World Cup preperation are all certain to be key aspects of Saturday´s mouth-watering match between Georgia and the United States of America in Tbilisi. The three areas are crucial aspects of the sport and with both nations likely to confirm their place at Rugby World Cup 2015 in March it is time for the leading players of both sides to impress.

Georgia and the USA are two key players in the global game right now and the indications are that over time they will become increasingly important both on and off the field. The expansion of the sport in the professional era has made possible for more teams to be competitive than ever before and in the case of both Georgia and the USA the exposure of players to professional rugby, notable in Western Europe, has seen the quality of both the Lelos and Eagles rise sharply. 

The rivalry between the teams, though is limited due to there having been too few tests between the nations. There have only been three tests played with them taking place in 2009, 2010 and 2012. The home side won on all occassions with the USA defeating a weakened Georgian team in both 2009 and 2012 while Georgia completed a late victory over the North Americans in November 2010.

According to the current IRB World Rankings the match features the teams ranked 16th and 18th in the world. Both, however, could make claims to being better. Ahead of the USA is, for instance, Romania who the USA defeated by a record margin last November in Bucharest. The USA did not play its best players in the 2013 Pacific Nations Cup and consequently dropped matches it ought to have done much better in. Many professional players missed out on facing some or all of Canada, Fiji, Japan and Tonga in May and June. 

Against Georgia on Saturday many who missed the tournament will be back. One such name is Samu Manoa who will play in the second-row to fill the void of the missing Lou Stanfill. Also out is Scott LaValla who will rejoin the squad next week to prepare for the test match against Russia in London. Manoa will partner Graham Harriman in the second-row which sees Todd Clever lead from the back-row. Clever will be joined by the highly promising Cam Dolan who had a strong match against the Maori All Blacks while Derek Asbun is back from South Africa to also start. Another back-rower of note, John Quill has been named on the bench.

The USA front-row will likely have a difficult outing in Tbilisi but it is, in no way, a weak combination by USA standards. Shawn Pittman will play at tighthead while Nick Wallace is to be the starting loosehead prop. Joining them will be Phil Thiel at hooker. Feeding the scrums is to be Mike Petri who was dropped earleir in the year. He will form a halves combination with Adam Siddal who is to step into the vacancy left by the injured Toby L´Estrange. 

The familiar name of Andrew Suniula will play at inside centre but he will not be joined by fellow Aviva Premiership performer, Chris Wyles in the mid-field nor his partner from earlier in the year, Seamus Kelly. Instead Folau Niua will be the starting outside centre, Kelly will be on the bench and Wyles will play fullback. Joining Wyles in the back-three will be the inform Blaine Scully and debutant Tim Maupin who faced the Maori All Blacks in Philadelphia

For futher information about each player click on his name below:

USA  Eagles
2. Phil Thiel 
5. Samu Manoa 
6. Todd Clever (Captain) 
9. Mike Petri 
10. Adam Siddal 
11. Tim Maupin 
13. Folau Niua 

17. Olive Kilifi 
18. Eric Fry 
20. John Quill 
21. Shaun Davies 
22. Seamus Kelly 
23. Luke Hume

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