Having overcome early pressure to record an emphatic win over Romania in Palmerston North, Richie Dixon’s Georgian side will be approaching their last game of the 2011 World Cup with renewed optimism and the feeling that if they play to the top of their game, there is just the chance of an upset.
Despite Georgia’s win, they have no hope of qualifying and that could go against them because Argentina’s world cup is still very much alive and victory in this match will ensure that they progress to the knock out stages.
As for team personnel, Argentina have announced five changes from the side that narrowly beat Scotland by 13 points to 12 ahead of this match, some of which have been forced by injuries as a result of the bruising encounter against the Scots.
Three of the changes have been made in the Argentine pack but perhaps most significantly, the Pumas have brought in Lucas Gonazalez Amorosino, scorer of the winning try against the Scots to play at full back. Overall, this is a first class Argentina side that is clearly taking no chances in a match that they have to win.
As for Georgia, the morale amongst the squad would have been lifted by their victory over the Romanians. While it’s true to say that the Lelos were favourites to beat a side that they have dominated in recent years, World Cup Tournament matches are a little different so Dixon and his squad will have been relieved at the final outcome.
Georgia will take time to assess any injuries before naming their side to play on Sunday but it is likely that there will be few changes unless they are forced ones.
The game promises to be another physical encounter so the pack will need to show the same resilience that saw them home against the Romanians and that means that Mamuka Gorgodze and Dimitri Basilaia will have key roles to play at the base of the scrum.
The main threat as far as tries are concerned will come from this Georgian pack again but if Dixon’s men are to have any chance of recording an upset, they will need to keep the scoreboard moving. Merab Kvirikahsvili had a good game against the Romanians after something of a horror show in his previous match against England and you feel that in a game such as this, Georgia will be given plenty of opportunity for kicks at goal. With that in mind, Kvirikahsvili is arguably the most important player for his side in this game.
Unlike the Romanians, the Pumas can mix physicality with some flowing, attacking rugby from their backs and this is something that Georgia have struggled to contain in this tournament. As a result, Argentina are 1/25 favourites to win this game and that in itself is probably a fair assessment of how the match will evolve.
Georgia may retain hopes of an upset but they are slim and in reality, a close game with plenty of points on the board from a Georgian perspective will be an adequate finale to their world cup campaign of 2011.