Key Clash Preview: England v Georgia

We will be doing live updates on this game on Sunday morning on the website. Come back and leave your comments on the match as the action unfolds from 6:45am.

Date: 18th September 2011
Time: 07:00 BST (20:30 NZST)
Venue: Otago Stadium, Dunedin
Referee: Jonathan Kaplan (RSA)

Georgia have a short turnaround ahead of their next match against 2007 finalists England. The chariot is certainly swinging low for the English, and with a Georgia pack on the prowl for first tier scalps, can Johnson’s men get their campaign back to where it needs to be.

For all the talk, analysis and metaphors, it is safe to say England’s match against Argentina was a let down. In my key clash preview, I said they would win by nine points before a few readers then commented they expected it to be more. I imagine that I can safely say every single one of us breathed a sigh of relief come final whistle on Saturday morning. Now they face a Georgia side bursting with confidence after giving the Scots a real scare in their first match. There must be no complacency come Sunday.

Let’s not dress it up, England were found to be lacking in certain areas against Argentina last weekend. You can be the most rose-tinted fan ever, but if you didn’t rest your head in your hands at least once against the Pumas, you’re a blind, and very naive, optimist. Discipline, as usual, held no reins and, were it not for a few missed kicks, it would  mean I would be talking about a loss last weekend. The back line failed to come into the game and Wilkinson couldn’t hit the broadside of a barn door even if he tried! Kickers have off days, but it is so out of character for the Toulon man. They come into this match as favourites but will want, and need, to prove a point to the southern hemisphere sides.

Ahead of the World Cup, everyone was talking about the Georgian pack, but still, these lads are monsters. They don’t have a forwards coach because the last one they had is six feet under. He isn’t dead, he was just scrummed there in a training session once and they haven’t found him yet. England losing Sheridan will mean the Georgians smell blood, and if they are to cause the biggest upset in Rugby World Cup history, this is where it will come through. They shoved Scotland around a lot in torrential conditions, and will now have the belief they can do the same to the English.

What to expect:
Pretty much as above. Georgian forwards piling in and looking to match the English up front, taking advantage of some questionable tactics at the ruck. Ben Youngs is back so as long as he can get quick ball and the back row is quick to clear out, they should be fine. But if they get bogged down the Georgians will need no invitation to rampage over.

All eyes on:
Despite the pack set to be central to the match, it will be interesting to see how England’s back three play. They need to be piling the pressure on a second rate back line and crossing the gain line constantly. In the last few matches they haven’t exactly set the world alight so need to prove their worth.

Head-to-head: Front three
With the Top 14 experience the business end of the scrum has, this will be where they will want to match England. Some of the members of the pack from that one good season England had in 2003 have already said that they are as physical as any of the top eight nations, so making sure there are no slip ups starts here.

Last fixture: England 84-6 Georgia, Perth, Australia, October 12, 2003

Weather Forecast: Sunny (surprisingly for Dunedin)

With the likes of Ben Youngs back I imagine England to use quick ball. They aren’t going to want to get bogged down in trench warfare and will look to run the Georgian pack and backs off their feet. If you have a fantasy team pick Ashton and Foden as they will find gaps left by the centres. England to win but Georgia to ask questions early on. England by 16 points.

By Nick Winn

5 thoughts on “Key Clash Preview: England v Georgia

  1. Hi Nick,
    I think you are off the mark in your assessment of England’s last game. No it wasn’t a great performance but this wasn’t against a mickey mouse outfit, this was Argentina in the first match of a world cup. The fact we scraped the win after such a torrid afternoon speaks volumes for the drive within the England team simply not to lose. Improvements needed? Yes. “All is lost” and England are crap?? Absolutely not.

    Georgia played to their strengths against Scotland and in fact they play a similar game. Neither has the potency to create lots of try scoring opportunities so they play “spoiler” rugby for all their worth. That’s not a criticism, its a tactic that is often employed by a smaller team facing a better one. England will start to find their stride in this match as well they should. The much vaunted Georgia pack are not as big or as strong or as ugly as they are made out to be. Matt Stevens is going to have a field day, this is his game to cement his place as the new England enforcer (give him a little more time and he could become our new Jason Leonard). There will be parity in the tight for the first 20 mins and then I expect England to dominate and so LONG AS WE START DELIVERING QUICK BALL (you are SO right about this point) then the backs should start to get their running game going. They couldn’t do this against Argentina because they didn’t have the ball or the service needed, you can’t hit the gain line at pace if you are on the back foot with slow ball. This will be different and I’m going to stick my neck out…… England by 25 points

  2. It’ll take longer than 20 minutes to break Georgia down – I can see them staying within 10 or 15 points for about an hour, but England should be able to run in a couple as the game goes on. Georgia were impressive against Scotland, but Scotland were truly terrible for much of the game.

  3. I think a lot of the performance depends on the weather conditions. If it stays dry, and sunny as predicted, it should be Englands win by a good margin. If it gets wet (like the Scotland game), it will be a bit more tricky. Although Scotland made a lot of handling errors, a lot of them were due to the conditions. Scotlands problem was that when they had opportunites to score tries, and yes there were a few, their decision making left a little to be desired. I ould hope England will not make these mistakes. I hope that Armitage has had a little more coaching in the wing department during the week, becuase he should have plenty of chances on Sunday. England by 20 points or more.

  4. Nick,
    ” They shoved Scotland around a lot ” did you watch the Scotland game or are you just regurgitating the same pre-match hype. Here’s the stats from the game. Scotland first:
    4 / 0 Scrums (won/lost) 7 / 0
    15 / 2 Line-outs (won/lost) 12 / 2
    2 Turnovers won (at ruck and maul) 1
    Hardly shoved around!! The Georgian pack are good and it was a battle of attrition but that’s about it. England will see off Georgia as long as their heads are fully on the game and not thinking about promo videos for O2 or when their next night on the piss is coming.

  5. Nice to see Wood make a start, although i feel he should have replaced Moody, keeping our line out man Croft still in. Not sure about Hape, but i guess the relationship between him and Tuilalgi needs to be tested, although i though Tindall was looking alright (Cant believe i just said that). Gutted for Sheridan, probably his last chance, but in all honesty i still would have had Stevens over him. I wonder how Flood will play?

    All in all fairly drastic from Johno, a lot of changes. england to win by 20+

Comments are closed.