Georgia v Portugal Preview – Wholesale changes
Though they start the match at the opposite end of the spectrum, both Georgia and Portugal made substantial changes to their starting line-ups for Saturday’s match in Tbilisi. The hosts Georgia, who defeated Germany with comparative ease last Saturday, made 11 changes to their starting line-up while the visitors, defeated in their opening match by Romania, made eight changes of which six to the pack.
Chris Thau looks at the starting line-ups Georgia’s David Kubriashvili and his fellow front row forward Vasili Kakovin are only two unavailable played after last week’s match against Germany. However, there are only four players, two forwards and two backs, retained from last week’s starting line-up for this weekend’s match against Portugal.
The two forwards are the three-try hooker Zurab Zhvania and predictably captain and open-side flanker Shalva Sutiashvili, while the backs are the two young centres Merab Sharikadze and David Kacharava, who impressed on Saturday. The rest, including props Nariashvili and Zirkashvili, lock-forward Nemsadze, reserve hooker Shalva Mamukashvili and Giorgi Tkhilaishvili, as well as the weekend’s starting scrum-half Lobzhanidze, outside half Khmaladze and fullback Aptsiauri are all on the bench. This is all to do with developing strength in depth, and aspect of the elite development coach Milton Haig has made a top priority since he joined the Lelos three years ago. “We are lucky that even with making eleven changes from the staring 15 last week against Germany, we are still able to put out a strong and experienced side and it shows our improved depth we have with our players now.
We have a lot of competition for starting positions in the squad so our plan we started 3 years ago is coming to fruition,” said Haig, before Saturday’s match against Portugal. “Portugal have always been a difficult opponent for Georgia and we expect nothing less again this time. However we feel we have improved our standard of rugby since we last played Portugal and it will be up to us to make sure we continue those improvements,” he added A reshuffle of the Lobos front-five for the match against Georgia was somewhat predictable after both their below par routine against Romania last weekend. However the magnitude of the Portugal alterations, with 13 changes overall; of which five positional, is a clear reflection of the dissatisfaction of the coaching staff with the performance of the pack in their Rugby Europe Championship opening match.
Only the two halves, the scrum-half Francisco Magalhanes and his CDUL outside half partner Nuno Costa retain their original positions, with the Clermont Auvergne duo Julien Bardy and Pedro Betencourt Avila on the team list, but moving from blind-side flanker to open-side and from fullback to centre, respectively. The other forward to be retained, is captain Vasco Uva, who take over as blind-side flanker, with Francisco Sousa coming on as the starting No8.
The biggest upheaval was up front, with four of the front five, Medeiros, Taful, Rocha and Vassal swapping places with their bench understudies Francisco Fernadez, Mike Tadjer, Tony Martins and Miguel Vilaca respectively. The fifth David dos Reis, who is playing for the French club Chateaurenard, was brought in for Rafael Simoes of Cascais. Taking into account the commanding performance of the Lelos pack against Germany, it was quite clear that the front row in particular needed a bit of steel, so the selection of the experienced trio Fernadez, Tadjer and Martins who play in Grance was somehow expected.
The changes to the back division have been nevertheless restricted by the availability of talent, with 13 of Portugal’s top players involved in the HSBC Sevens Series. The two Appelton brothers, Francisco and Tomas are reunited at centre, having played the previous game on the wings, while Tomas Noronha and Manuel Murteira are leaving the bench at the expense Duarte Marques and Jose Lima.
Three of the four newcomers Noronha, Murteira and Tomas, the youngest of the Appletons, have made their international debut last year, while the maiden international for Duarte Marques, Filipe Pereira, Maxime Tonietta and Diogo Torn, who is on the bench, was the match against Romania last week.
Georgia 1. Karlen Asieshvili, 2. Zurab Zhvania, 3. Levan Chilachava, 4. Giorgi Chkhaidze, 5. Kote Mikautadze, 6. Dimitri Basilaia, 7. Shalva Sutiashvili (CAP), 8. Lasha Lomidze 9. Giorgi Begadze. 10. Lasha Malaguradze, 11. Muraz Giorgadze, 12. Merab Sharikadze, 13. David Kacharava, 14. Tamaz Mchedlidze, 15. Merab Kvirikashvili,
16.Shalva Mamukashvili, 17. Mikheil Nariashvili, 18. David Zirakashvili, 19. Giorgi Nemsadze, 20. Giorgi Tkhilaishvili, 21. Vasil Lobzhanidze, 22. Lasha Khmaladze, 23. Giorgi Aptsiauri.
Portugal 1.Francisco Fernadez, 2.Mike Tadjer, 3.Tony Martins, 4.David dos Reis, 5.Miguel Vilaca 6. Vasco Uva (captain), 7.Julien Bardy, 8 Francisco Sousa, 9. Francisco Magalhanes 10. Nuno Costa 11. Tomas Noronha 12. Tomas Appelton 13 Francisco Appelton, 14 Manuel Murteira, 15 Pedro Avila
16. Bruno Medeiros, 17 Nuno Taful, 18. Bruno Rocha 19.Diogo Torn, 20. Salvador Vassal 21.Maxime Tonietta, 22. Duarte Marques, 23 Manuel Pereira Referee: Vlad Iordachescu (Rom) TJ : Radu Petrescu (Rom) Ionut Bodea (Rom)
POSSIBLE RR World Rankings outcome on Result
GEO (on 70.51 points) at home -vs- POR (on 57.87 points)
|Possible Outcome||Rating Point Exchange||New GEO Rating||New POR Rating||Will POR overtake GEO?|
|If GEO win by 1-15 points||0.000||70.51||57.87||No|
|If GEO win by more than 15||0.000||70.51||57.87||No|
|If result is a draw||1.000||69.51||58.87||No|
|If POR win by 1-15 points||2.000||68.51||59.87||No|
|If POR win by more than 15||3.000||67.51||60.87||No|
2014-16 European Nations Cup > ENC 1A
|1||RESULT||7/02/2015||Portugal||10 v 37||Romania|
|2||RESULT||7/02/2015||Spain||43 v 20||Russia|
|4||PREVIEW||14/02/2015||Georgia||00 v 00||Portugal|
|5||PREVIEW||14/02/2015||Romania||00 v 00||Spain|
|6||PREVIEW||14/02/2015||Germany||00 v 00||Russia|
|7||Not .Played||28/02/2015||Spain||00 v 00||Georgia|
|8||Not .Played||28/02/2015||Russia||00 v 00||Romania|
|9||Not .Played||28/02/2015||Portugal||00 v 00||Germany|
|10||Not .Played||14/03/2015||Georgia||00 v 00||Russia|
|11||Not .Played||14/03/2015||Portugal||00 v 00||Spain|
|12||Not .Played||14/03/2015||Germany||00 v 00||Romania|
|13||Not .Played||21/03/2015||Romania||00 v 00||Georgia|
|14||Not .Played||21/03/2015||Russia||00 v 00||Portugal|