Irish Heroics To Continue Against Georgia
Ireland v Georgia
After a whopping 23-9 defeat over the Springboks last weekend, Ireland will be hoping for another classy win against the Georgians in the Aviva on Sunday.
After improving steadily under their new coach in last year’s autumn internationals, Joe Schmidt’s Ireland have gone from strength to strength this year. A heroic performance in Paris earned them another Six Nations Championship, during which their only defeat was a narrow one at Twickenham, and after a successful summer mini-tour in Argentina, they kicked off their autumn internationals with a memorable victory over South Africa in Dublin last weekend.
Georgia earned their place at next year’s Rugby World Cup in some style earlier this year, winning nine of their ten qualifying games to top their group, and putting together a run of seven successive victories in the first half of the year. That run came to an end against an Argentina A side in Tbilisi in June, and in their first autumn international they were comfortably beaten at home 23-9 by a touring Tongan side.
There are no indications that Ireland will be resting anyone for this game, but they do have a few players carrying injuries and may decide not to risk them with bigger fixtures ahead in the next few weeks. New centre Jared Payne sprained his foot against South Africa and will be assessed during the week. Hooker Rory Best is still suffering from a calf problem whilst flanker Chris Henry has not fully recovered from a severe migraine, and neither are likely to feature on Sunday.
Georgia are still missing a number of key players. Flankers Mamuka Gorgodze and Shalva Sutiashvili are both out with knee problems, and regular starters Vasil Kakovin, Jaba Bregvadze, Tedore Zibzibadze, Anton Peikrishvili and David Khinchagishvili are all still recovering from injuries.
Ireland have played against Georgia on three occasions and won all three.
Their first two meetings were one-sided affairs at Lansdowne Road in 1998 and 2002, which Ireland won 70-0 and 63-14 respectively.
But their third encounter, at the 2007 World Cup, was much closer. Having failed to impress against Namibia in their opening group game, Ireland came up against a determined Georgia team which led on 53 minutes, and threw everything at the men in green in the final minutes, going down by just four points, having come close to causing one of the biggest upsets in World Cup history.
Georgia have a huge pack and many of their squad have Top14 and Premiership experience, so Joe Schmidt won’t want his side to risk undoing their good work against South Africa by underestimating their opponents this weekend.
The physical threat of the Georgians up front will give this Irish team a different challenge to test themselves against, but they should be up to it, and with their visitors weakened by a lengthy injury list, I can’t see the home side being given too much trouble. Back Ireland to cover a 39 point handicap at odds of 10/11.