Preview: England v Georgia

Date published: September 18 2011

On paper, it's a David v Goliath clash. But like David, Georgia won't be backing down when they face England in Dunedin on Sunday.

On paper, it's a David v Goliath clash. But like David, Georgia won't be backing down when they face England in Dunedin on Sunday.

The Lelos know no other way but to meet their opposition head on in a battle up front. Like other Eastern European nations, the Georgians favour a forward-dominated approach and it certainly plays to their strengths.

In their 15-6 defeat at the hands of the Scots, Georgia created some problems for the Scotland scrum and coach Richie Dixon will be looking for another strong showing.

Last time the two teams met was at the 2003 World Cup; rugby in Georgia was in its infancy and it came as no surprise when the Red Rose handed out a 84-6 hammering. While the Georgians are still by no means a powerhouse, they are a team on the up with structures and personnel developing at a rapid rate.

There are only two survivors from the staring XV that did battle in Perth, but the current side is a settled one, with Dixon making just two changes to the team that faced Scotland. Lock Levan Datunashvili is one man to miss out with Ilia Zedginidze coming in to the second row. In the front row, David Kubriashvili is promoted from the bench at the expense of David Zirakashvili.

England coach Martin Johnson has taken a different approach to the game, making nine changes to the team that were underwhelming in their 13-9 win over Argentina.

Skipper Lewis Moody returns to action after an injury lay-off and he's joined in the loose trio by Tom Wood on the openside flank, with Nick Easter retaining his place at number eight. Simon Shaw and Tom Palmer form an all-new second row while in the front row Dan Cole is joined by hooker Dylan Hartley and Matt Stevens at loosehead prop.

Scrum-half Ben Youngs and fly-half Toby Flood take over the half-back duties with Shontayne Hape lining up next to Flood at inside centre. Hape joins Manu Tuilagi in the midfield. The back three is the only area that sees no change, with full-back Ben Foden and wingers Chris Ashton and Delon Armitage retaining their places.

The all-new tight five will have be in for a busy day at the office but it's in the back-line that much of the interest will lie for Johnson.

Youngs impressed when he replaced Richard Wigglesworth against Argentina and with Jonny Wilkinson stumbling, Flood will feel he has a chance to make a real play for the number ten jersey.

While they were unable to capatialise on their chances, the Scottish backs were able to find some space out wide against Georgia, and the English will no doubt be looking to punish the Lelos in this aspect.

New Zealand and South Africa have both shown in recent days how to be clinical when dominant and England need to follow their lead.

Ones to watch:

For England: For no other reason than his fitness, Lewis Moody will come under the spotlight. Moody has only played five competitive matches this year and got badly injured in two of them. If Moody is going to be a force in later rounds he needs to return to action strongly and lay a platform for games to come.

For Georgia: As mentioned the forward game is key to the Georgian game and as such tighthead prop David Kubriashvili will be a big part of their play. Kubriashvili comes up against Matt Stevens who is playing slightly out of position at loosehead. The Saracens man is no mug packing down in the number one jersey but Kubriashvili will be eying a small victory by giving Stevens a tough run.

Head-to-head:Georgia can't rely solely on their forwards and as such they'll need fly-half Merab Kvirikashvili to get the back-line going. Kvirikashvili comes up against Toby Flood who has a point to prove after holding onto the number ten shirt for the Six Nations only to lose it in the build-up to the World Cup.

Previous Results:
2003: England won 84-6 in Perth

Prediction: England will be able to quell the Georgian forward charge and will certainly be more potent in attack than Scotland. Georgia will fight to the end but it will be England by 40!

The teams:

England: 15 Ben Foden, 14 Chris Ashton, 13 Manu Tuilagi, 12 Shontayne Hape, 11 Delon Armitage, 10 Toby Flood, 9 Ben Youngs, 8 Nick Easter, 7 Lewis Moody (c), 6 Tom Wood, 5 Tom Palmer, 4 Simon Shaw, 3 Dan Cole, 2 Dylan Hartley, 1 Matt Stevens.
Replacements: 16 Steve Thompson, 17 Alex Corbisiero, 18 Tom Croft, 19 James Haskell, 20 Joe Simpson, 21 Jonny Wilkinson, 22 Matt Banahan.

Georgia: 15 Revaz Gigauri, 14 Irakli Machkhaneli, 13 David Kacharava, 12 Tedo Zibzibadze, 11 Alexander Todua, 10 Merab Kvirikashvili, 9 Irakli Abuseridze (capt), 8 Dimitri Basilaia, 7 Mamuka Gorgodze, 6 Shalva Sutiashvili, 5 Vakhtang Maisuradze, 4 Ilia Zedginidze, 3 David Kubriashvili, 2 Jaba Bregvadze, 1 David Khinchagishvili.
Replacements: 16 Akvsenti Giorgadze, 17 David Zirakashvili, 18 Levan Datunashvili, 19 Giorgi Chkhaidze, 20 Bidzina Samkharadze, 21 Givi Berishvili, 22 Lasha Khmaladze.

Date: Sunday, September 18
Venue: Otago Stadium, Dunedin
Kick-off: 18:00 (06:00 GMT)
Referee: Jonathan Kaplan (South Africa)
Assistant referees: Steve Walsh (Australia), Chris Pollock (New Zealand)
TMO: Shaun Veldsman (South Africa)