SCRUM Columnist Stuart Rutherford looks ahead to Saturday’s Georgia Test match:
The official motto on Georgia’s Coat of Arms reads Dzala Ertobashia – which in English, translates to “Strength is in Unity”.
Perhaps this is something Scotland should bear in mind as they prepare for their final fixture of the Autumn Tests, as unity is a characteristic they will need in abundance if they are to overcome a powerful Georgian outfit.
Milton Haig’s side will arrive from Tbilisi full of confidence following two home games against Japan and Samoa. After losing a tight battle to the Japanese 28-22 – a game in which they pushed the side who very nearly beat Wales to the bitter end – the Georgians tallied an impressive win over the South Sea Islanders.
With two pushover tries, the home side were able to use their superior pack to overpower the Samoans as they eventually left the Mikheil Meskhi Stadium with a deserved 20-16 victory.
Although Georgia’s Kiwi Coach has looked to implement a more expansive brand of rugby, Scotland’s opponents still pride themselves on their ability to dominate up front. Toulon back-row Mamuka Gorgodze is the unquestionable leader of a pack that plays exclusively within France and with his leadership the Georgians will look to bully Scotland’s inexperienced forwards throughout Saturday’s contest.
For Vern Cotter’s side, it’s imperative to pick a mobile pack that won’t get drawn into Georgia’s suffocating game plan. They should look to recycle the ball quickly from contact, whilst varying the point of attack, in order to tire out the Georgian forwards. Rugby Park’s 4G surface should lend a hand in Scotland’s ability to move the ball wide at pace.
Scotland’s rookie props, Allan Dell and Zander Fagerson, could have their hands full against Georgia’s monstrous scrum. However, the back-row trio of Magnus Bradbury, Hamish Watson and John Barclay, who as a unit were particularly impressive against Argentina, should continue to be disruptive at the breakdown.
In the back line, it will be interesting to see whether Laidlaw or Russell are rested, with Ali Price and Pete Horne waiting in the wings. Huw Jones could miss out with the foot injury he sustained last weekend, however, it could allow Mark Bennett to make his first appearance of the Autumn Tests.
If Cotter’s side believe this will be a walk in the park, then they are in for a rude awakening.
With Georgia wanting to prove themselves against a top tier opponent, this match presents itself as a potential banana skin and as result gives Scotland no time to rest on their laurels.
If Scotland give Georgia the respect they deserve, whilst playing to their full attacking potential, then they should run out as comfortable victors, continuing the momentum towards next year’s 6 Nations.
Scotland’s Autumn Tests continue on Saturday against Georgia – ‘Keep It SCRUM’ for the best previews and reaction
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