Preview: Fiji v Georgia

Date published: June 23 2016

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An interesting match-up awaits at ANZ Stadium in Suva on Friday as Fiji host an ever improving Georgia team.

Perhaps Georgia will be saving their best game for their last tour match as in Fiji they face the best team in the Pacific Islands.

Fiji are on a fine run of form at the moment, having captured the Pacific Nations Cup title for the second year in succession with back to back victories over Tonga and Samoa during the last two weeks.

Georgia, on the other hand, will be feeling confident of their chances coming into this match after drawing 19-19 with Samoa two weeks back before beating Tonga 23-20 last weekend with a converted try which won them the game in the final minute of play.

Meanwhile, Fiji coach John McKee has made wholesale changes to his starting line-up that triumphed over Samoa last weekend.

Fly-half Ben Volavola will form the half-back combination alongside scrum-half Nemia Kenatale while Naulia Dawai and Mosese Voka will be supported by number eight Eremasi Radrodro in the back row. Loosehead prop Peni Ravai and tighthead prop Taniela Koroi will team up with captain Sunia Koto in the front row while Tevita Cavubati and Savenaca Tabakanalagi pair up at lock.

The home team will be looking to their dangerous back three to combine well and get them over the try-line. Full-back Benito Masilevu and Highlanders winger Patrick Osborne are devastating with ball in hand and they will be looking to break through a well organised Georgia defensive unit on Saturday.

Georgia have consistency on their side as they have made minimal changes to their matchday squad for this encounter with Fiji. There is one alteration in the backline which sees Giorgi Pruidze selected ahead of Tamaz Mchedlidze on the right wing. There are also two changes to the front row with props Irakli Mirtskhulava and Karlen Asieshvili replacing Anton Peikrishvili and Zurab Zhvania.

The team has an experienced look to it with full-back Merab Kvirikashvili and centre David Kacharava representing their country for the 95th occasion on the international stage while 34-year-old lock Giorgi Chkhaidze will earn his 94th cap.

The teams have only played each other on one previous occasion with Fiji winning 24-19 in 2012. Georgia will play with plenty of passion and will be competitive for large parts of the game, however with the likes of fly-half Ben Volavola and Highlanders winger Patrick Osborne in the Fiji starting line-up the home team should have enough firepower to overcome this brave Georgia outfit.

Players to watch:

For Fiji: Fly-half Ben Volavola has the ability to step his way through the defence and offload in the tackle. He will want to take his opportunity in this match after being selected ahead of veteran playmaker Seremaia Bai.

For Georgia: Georgia outside centre David Kacharava helped his team defeat Tonga last weekend with two well taken tries which proved to be the difference at the end of the eighty minutes. Kacharava is a real workhorse and he will be looking to continue with his good form in order to make sure that his team finishes off their tour with a morale boosting victory.

Head-to-head: The battle of the two hookers should be one of this Test's highlights. Fiji captain Sunia Koto will be involved in a key battle against Jaba Bregvadze in the set-piece. These two players will have a big role to play in supporting their respective props in the scrum and making sure that their respective teams are able to secure front foot ball. 

Previous result:

2012: Fiji won 24-19 in Tbilisi

Prediction: The game will be in the balance throughout the eighty minutes, however the home team's superior player quality will prove the difference at the end. Fiji to win by seven points. 

The teams:

Fiji: 15 Benito Masilevu, 14 Savenaca Rawaca, 13 Adriu Delai, 12 Eroni Vasiteri, 11 Patrick Osborne, 10 Ben Volavola, 9 Nemia Kenatale, 8 Eremasi Radrodro, 7 Mosese Voka, 6 Naulia Dawai, 5 Tevita Cavubati, 4 Savenaca Tabakanalagi, 3 Taniela Koroi, 2 Sunia Koto (c), 1 Peni Ravai
Replacements: 16 Viliame Veikoso, 17 Campese Maáfu, 18 Mesake Doge, 19 Nemia Soqeta, 20 Malakai Ravulo, 21 Henry Seniloli, 22 Seremaia Bai, 23 Vereniki Goneva

Georgia: 15 Merab Kvirikashvili, 14 Giorgi Pruidze, 13 David Kacharava, 12 Merab Sharikadze, 11 Sandro Todua, 10 Lasha Khmaladze, 9 Giorgi Begadze, 8 Beka Bitsadze, 7 Giorgi Tkhilaishvili, 6 Shalva Sutiashvili (c), 5 Giorgi Nemsadze, 4 Giorgi Chkhaidze, 3 Irakli Mirtskhulava, 2 Jaba Bregvadze, 1 Karlen Asieshvili
Replacements: 16 Shalva Mamukashvili, 17 Zurab Zhvania, 18 Nikoloz Khatiashvili, 19 Nodar Cheishvili, 20 Lasha Lomidze, 21 Vazha Khutsishvili, 22 Lasha Malaghuradze, 23 Saba Shubitidze

Date: Friday, June 24
Venue: ANZ Stadium
Kick-off: 15:00 local (03:00 GMT)
Referee: JP Doyle (England)
Assistant referees: George Clancy (Ireland), James Leckie (Australia)

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