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Georgia v Portugal - Teams and Prediction

WORLD CUP, ROUND THREE: Georgia and Portugal will be hoping to secure their first points of the World Cup when they face off in their Pool C clash early on Saturday afternoon.

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They are old rivals, within a new setting. This may be the first World Cup meeting between the two sides, but Georgia and Portugal have played one another 24 times since 1997.

“We have a lot of things to analyse,” Georgia coach Levan Maisashvili said after their 15-35 defeat to Australia on the first weekend of the World Cup.

He wasn’t wrong. Georgia played noticeably better than the scoreline suggests, but wasted a number of chances at Stade de France two weeks ago.

Maisashvili made four changes in the pack, with Mikheil Nariashvili and Beka Gigashvili coming into the front-row, Vladimer Chachanidze into the second-row, and Beka Saginadze in the back-row. Giorgi Kveseladze will earn his 50th cap, as will Nodar Cheishvili, if used off the bench.

Diogo Hasse Ferreira replaces Anthony Alves in the front-row while José Madeira comes into the second-row in place of Martim Belo. In the back-line, Pedro Bettencourt replaces José Lima at outside-centre and Raffaele Storti replaces Vincent Pinto on the right wing.

Along with Fiji, Georgia are among the best of the tier-two nations and would have had this down as a a match they should win in this group. While they may not go on to qualify from this group, a solid win here will put them in the rearview mirror of the bigger sides in the group, which could make the final two matches very interesting. In 25 previous meetings, Georgia have won 18 and are the clear favourites in this one.

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Georgia are 13th in the World Rankings and beat Wales and Italy in 2022.

Portugal are 16th, and pushed Wales all the way in their World Cup opener. This match may be about bragging rights in a pool that also features Wales, Fiji and Australia, but these two sides – like Uruguay in Pool A and Chile in Pool D, are ones to watch. It’s worth getting to know them relatively early.

Captain Merab Sharikadze will lead the side for the 50th time.

“It’s very symbolic and a big responsibility and it adds importance to this match,” Sharikadze said.

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Portugal will know that this is their best chance of taking any points from this World Cup and are likely to treat this match as their very own World Cup final. Os Lobos were unbeaten in four matches in the lead-up to this competition, though it is worth noting those wins came over the USA, Kenya, and Hong Kong, who are ranked below them.

Portugal’s coach Patrice Lagisquet felt the gap is definitely closing between these two teams.

“I hope so, we will see. I really appreciate the way they play rugby, they do a great job and for me they must be considered as a model for [rugby]. Rugby in Georgia is a huge sport.”

“When I see people talk about Georgia they underestimate their level. They not only have a big forward pack, they have very good backs. We have known each other for four years and now they can perform very well.”

The Portugal coach went for a now famous 6-2 split of forward and backs on the bench for this clash.

“We don’t usually do that, we have done it just once against Georgia and we do it again as in our last games we lost in the last 20 minutes. They are training to be able to maintain a high intensity level for 80 minutes,” he said.

Prediction:
@Rugby365: Georgia by 20 points

Georgia: 15 Davit Niniashvili; 14 Akaki Tabutsadze, 13 Giorgi Kveseladze, 12 Merab Sharikadze (captain), 11 Alexander Todua; 10 Tedo Abzhandadze, 9 Gela Aprasidze; 8 Beka Gorgadze, 7 Beka Saginadze, 6 Tornike Jalagonia, 5 Konstantine Mikautadze, 4 Vladimer Chachanidze, 3 Beka Gigashvili, 2 Shalva Mamukashvili, 1 Mikheil Nariashvili.
Replacements: 16 Tengizi Zamtaradze, 17 Guram Gogichashvili, 18 Guram Papidze, 19 Nodar Cheishvili, 20 Giorgi Tsutskiridze, 21 Vasil Lobzhanidze, 22 Luka Matkava, 23 Demur Tapladze.

Portugal: 15 Nuno Sousa Guedes; 14 Raffaele Storti, 13 Pedro Bettencourt, 12 Tomás Appleton (captain), 11 Rodrigo Marta; 10 Jerónimo Portela, 9 Samuel Marques, 8 Rafael Simões, 7 Nicolas Martins, 6 João Granate, 5 Steevy Cerqueira, 4 José Madeira, 3 Diogo Hasse Ferreira 2 Mike Tadjer, Francisco Fernandes.
Replacements: 16 David Costa, 17 Lionel Campergue, 18 Anthony Alves, 19 Martim Belo, 20 David Wallis, 21 Thibault de Freitas, 22 Pedro Lucas, 23 Manuel Cardoso Pinto.

Date: September 23
Venue: Stadium de Toulouse, Toulouse
Kick-off: 14.00 (12.00 GMT, 13.00 WEST, 16.00 GET)
Referee: Paul Williams (New Zealand)
Assistant Referees: Matthew Carley (England), Chris Busby (Ireland)
TMO: Joy Neville (Ireland)

Additional source @WorldRugby

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