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Preview: Georgia v Samoa

22nd November 2013 11:42

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James Johnston Samoa v France 2013

Family connections: James Johnston

Samoa remain without suspended Northampton Saints centre George Pisi as they travel to take on Georgia in Tbilisi on Saturday.

The midfielder's appeal against a six-week ban for a tip-tackle against Ireland in Dublin a fortnight ago was unsuccessful, and he remains sidelined for his country's final November Test.

Isaia Tuifua wears the number 13 jersey in his place, with George's elder brother Tusi named at fly-half.

His club-mate Kahn Fotualii continues as captain, and wins his 17th cap; partnering the Pisi snr at scrum-half.

In the pack, hulking James Johnston - younger brother of Census - starts at tighthead with the impressive Ofisa Treviranus a mainstay on the blindside flank.

Coach Stephen Betham told reporters this week that, in spite of a length injury list, his side needed to improve ahead of only the second-ever clash between Samoa and Georgia.

"We lack eight line-up players due to injuries and other reasons," said Betham.

"But we have a chance to see other rugby players in business. Some of them may play at the World Cup. We could not play as a team against Ireland and that is why we lost. But we were unlucky against the French Barbarians (last week).

"New players have a chance to establish themselves in the team. They must do their best in test-matches."

Meanwhile, the Lelos are again skippered by veteran second-row-cum-flanker Mamuka "Gorgodzilla" Gorgodze.

With a ten-year Test career and several seasons spent with Montpellier in the Top14, Gorgodze has over 50 caps and 20 tries to his name; and narrowly missed out on that sole previous meeting of the two sides back at the 2003 World Cup.

His battle with Treviranus, Jack Lam and co at the breakdown promises to be ferocious, with both sides renowned for their physical brand of rugby.

As they continue to demonstrate on the international stage, Georgia have come a long way since the 46-9 Pool C defeat to the Islanders a decade ago.

Recent results:
2003: Samoa won 46-9 in Perth, Australia

The teams:

Georgia: 15 Merab Kvirikashbili, 14 Tamaz Mtchedlidze, 13 Davit Kacharava, 12 Merab Sharikadze, 11 Giorgi Shkinin, 10 Lasha Khmaladze, 9 Giorgi Begadze, 8 Giorgi Chkhaidze, 7 Mamuka Gorgodze (c), 6 Giorgi Tkhilaishvili, 5 Levan Datunashvili, 4 Konstantine Mikautadze, 3 Levan Chilachava, 2 Shalva Mamukashvili, 1 Mikheil Nariashvili.
Replacements: 16 Simon Maisuradze, 17 Zurab Zhvania, 18 Davit Kubriashvili, 19 Girogi Nemsadze, 20 Shalva Sutiashvili, 21 Vazha Khutsishvili, 22 Tedore Zibzibadze, 23 Beka Tsiklauri.

Samoa: 15 Faatoina Autagavaia, 14 Alapaati Leiua, 13 Isaia Tuifua, 12 Johnny Leota, 11 Brando Vaaulu, 10 Tusi Pisi, 9 Kahn Fotualii (c), 8 Faifili Levave, 7 Jack Lam, 6 Ofisa Treviranus, 5 Teofilo Paulo, 4 Piula Faasalele, 3 James Johnston, 2 Tii Paulo, 1 Sakaria Taulafo.
Replacements: 16 Wayne Ole Avei, 17 Viliamu Afatia, 18 Anthony Perenise, 19 Joe Tekori, 20 Taisina Tuifua, 21 Jeremy Sua, 22 Sinoti Sinoti, 23 Ken Pisi.

Date: Saturday 23rd November
Venue: Mikheil Meskhi Stadium, Tbilisi
Kick-off: 1630 (local), 1230 (GMT)
Referee: Romain Poite (France)
Assistant referees: Andrew McMenemy (Scotland), Vlad Jordachescu (Romania)

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PosTeamPPts
1Argentina00
2Georgia00
3Namibia00
4New Zealand00
5Tonga00