Scotland braced for physical battle
September 13, 2011
Rory Lawson returns as skipper for Scotland against Georgia © Getty Images
Scotland will look to build some much-needed momentum in their second match of the Rugby World Cup against Georgia at Rugby Park Stadium on Wednesday.
Andy Robinson's men survived a major scare in the opening round of Pool B as two late tries from Simon Danielli gave them a flattering 34-24 victory over Romania in Invercargill on Saturday. Romania dominated for large periods of the game and their physicality up front caused huge problems for the Scots.
Robinson has responded by making 11 changes for what promises to be another ferocious battle at Rugby Park. Georgia, who are coached by Scot Richie Dixon, are renowned for the strength of their pack with Toulon prop David Kubriashvili only able to find a place on the replacements' bench.
Georgia will be fresh having yet to pack down in the Rugby World Cup so far and will be hopeful of securing an upset after almost pulling off a shock Pool stage victory over Ireland in Bordeaux four years ago.
Scotland - Player to Watch: Rory Lawson has been handed the No.9 shirt and the captain's armband in his first appearance of this World Cup. The pressure will be on the Gloucester scrum-half to direct his forwards and dictate the tempo and course of Scotland's attack.
Scotland - Team News: Andy Robinson makes 11 changes from the side that beat Romania with the Scotland coach insisting rotation rather than form is behind the overhaul. Only wing Max Evans, prop Allan Jacobsen, Sean Lamont and Kelly Brown retain their places. Dan Parks and Rory Lawson link up at half-back with Graeme Morrison, Nick De Luca and Rory Lamont also coming into the backline. Nathan Hines and Jim Hamilton form an abrasive second-row partnership while Ross Ford is a late replacemet for Scott Lawson.
Georgia - Player to Watch: Montpellier's Mamuka Gorgodze, nicknamed Gorgodzilla, is one of the leading forwards in the French Top 14 and was named best overseas player last season by French newspaper L'Equipe. Georgia will look to the giant forward to make metres against the Scots.
Georgia - Team News: Gorgodze packs down at openside flanker while Agen's Dimitri Basilaia plays at No.8 for Georgia. Toulon prop David Kubriashvili is on the replacements' bench, emphasising the strength of their pack. Thirteen of the starting line-up play their rugby in France with Irakli Abuseridze of Auxerre captaining the side from scrum-half
Key Battle: Scotland were put under huge pressure up front against Romania and Georgia are set to give Robinson's men an even sterner test at the set-piece. Scotland's front-row, who will be supported by the added power of Jim Hamilton and Nathan Hines in the second-row, will have to hold their own in the scrum and set a solid platform from which to move the ball.
Trivia: No.8 Richie Vernon scored two tries against Georgia for Scotland A in November 2008.
Stats: Georgia have won one of their eight matches in Rugby World Cup history, beating Namibia in Lens in 2007
"We see this Georgia game as a really tough game. We expect it to be harder than the Romania game. They want a place at the Six Nations table and they see this as an opportunity to put their hand up for that." - Scotland boss Andy Robinson is guarded against any complacency
""Genetically, I think they are made for rugby. They are warrior-type players. The people are fully behind this team. They realise that rugby has become a window to the world for Georgia." - Georgia coach Richie Dixon talks up the nations affinity for rugby
Prediction: Scotland will look to move the ball away from the tight as much as possible with Rory Lawson playing a crucial role in creating a high tempo to tire out the big Georgia forwards. Scotland to come through another severe examination.
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
The tone was set early on in Dublin as a more clinical Ireland made England pay. All is not lost, however, argues Phil Vickery
Monday Maul takes in retirement talk, England reshuffles, France's unfair advantage and Scotland's communication breakdown
John Griffiths takes an analytical look at Week 3 of ESPN Scrum's Fantasy Rugby game - who should you have picked?
Ireland coach Joe Schmidt won the tactical battle and set his team on course for a shot at the Grand Slam. Tom Hamilton reports from Dublin