Get Newsletter

Wales v Georgia - teams and prediction

PREVIEW: Unbeaten Wales promised no let-up when they take on winless Georgia in Nantes on Saturday.

ADVERTISEMENT

Coach Warren Gatland insisted a victory would continue to help grow his side going into the World Cup quarterfinals.

“The message has been about continuing to improve as a side. We know we’re in the quarterfinals, but we want to finish top of the group and win four from four,” said Gatland.

Wales have won their three opening games in Pool C and are already qualified for the quarterfinals, having started with a 32-26 victory over Fiji before seeing off Portugal 28-8 and sailing past Australia 40-6.

The Georgians are yet to win in France after a 35-15 loss to Australia, an 18-18 draw with Portugal and a 17-12 defeat by Fiji.

It was only in November last year, however, that Georgia stunned Wales with a 13-12 victory in Cardiff.

There are 15 survivors in the Georgian match-day 23 from that win 11 months ago, including 11 in the starting XV.

ADVERTISEMENT

But Gatland insisted that talk had not been about that loss.

“I only watched the first half. I was on my way to Twickenham,” said Gatland, whose team will play the winners of Sunday’s Pool D match between Argentina and Japan in the quarterfinals.

“Georgia are a tough team to put away. I was confident Wales would win. It’s a learning process. We’re not looking back. We’re only looking forward. We’re pleased with the progress we’ve made. We’re excited about where we are.”

Gatland is back at the helm for a second tenure with Wales, having overseen three Six Nations Grand Slams and two World Cup semi-final appearances in his first between 2007-19.

* (Article continues below …)

Tough team to beat

He took over from Wayne Pivac with Welsh rugby riven by problems, but the Kiwi insisted those woes were behind the team.

ADVERTISEMENT

“I think there were a lot of things happening off the field and they obviously had a significant impact that I probably didn’t realise at the time,” he said.

“There is a line in the sand under that and the focus in this group has been about the rugby and building confidence.

“They have worked incredibly hard and I couldn’t have asked for more in terms of what this group has put in so I think making a comment or statement like that is about the confidence from not only what I say but from how hard they have worked.

“If we go in there and implement the game plan and have self belief then we know we are a tough team to beat.

“If you’re a tough team to beat, often the performance and results take care of themselves. You get a group of players who play for each other.”

Georgia coach Levan Maisashvili said his team had been searching a more balanced game.

“In this World Cup against every team we try our best. We have been disappointed (with no wins) but definitely against Wales a good result for us will only be winning the game,” he said.

“If you watch our game, not only at the World Cup but in the last year or two years, we started to play a more balanced game because everyone understands if you want to go and win big games against tier-one countries you cannot play only this heavy game with just scrummaging or mauling.”

Georgia skipper Merab Sharikadze, back at centre in one of five changes from the loss to Fiji, said harking back to the victory in Cardiff helped no one.

“They are playing much, much better than they did last year,” he said.

Sharikadze will be lining up against Nick Tompkins, one of the stand-out players for a resurgent Wales.

“We want no dip in our performance,” Tompkins warned.

“We want to get better, we don’t want to take our foot off the pedal — that’s the last thing we want. We want confidence and momentum and keep on going.”

Players to watch

For Wales: Warren Gatland made six changes to his starting 15, including captain Dewi Lake coming in at hooker and Gareth Anscombe starting at flyhalf for the injured Dan Biggar. Dafydd Jenkins earns his second start of the World Cup, after playing 50 minutes against Portugal in Nice, and starts alongside Will Rowlands in the second row for only the second time in his career – after England in August. After starting the first four Tests of his career in 2022, Tommy Reffell wears the No.7 jersey for only the third time this year, after earning five of his seven test caps in 2023 off the bench. Tomos Williams and Gareth Anscombe renewed their halfback partnership for the second time this year after starting alongside each other against Portugal.

For Georgia: Coach Levan Maisashvili made five changes to his starting side. Guram Gogichashvili and Shalva Mamukashvili return to the front row, Nodar Cheishvili comes into the second row, while captain Merab Sharikadze returns at centre and fullback Lasha Khmaladze makes his first appearance at the World Cup.

Head to head

Wales-v-Georgia-head-to-head

Prediction

@rugby365com: Wales by 18 points

Wal-v-Geo-prediction

Teams

Wales: 15 Liam Williams, 14 Louis Rees Zammit, 13 George North, 12 Nick Tompkins, 11 Rio Dyer, 10 Gareth Anscombe, 9 Tomos Williams, 8 Taulupe Faletau, 7 Tommy Reffell, 6 Aaron Wainwright, 5 Dafydd Jenkins, 4 Will Rowlands, 3 Tomas Francis, 2 Dewi Lake (Captain), 1 Gareth Thomas.
Replacements: 16 Elliot Dee, 17 Nicky Smith, 18 Henry Thomas, 19 Dafydd Jenkins, 20 Taine Basham, 21 Gareth Davies, 22 Sam Costelow, 23 Mason Grady.

Georgia: 15 Lasha Khmaladze, 14 Akaki Tabutsadze, 13 Giorgi Kveseladze, 12 Merab Sharikadze (captain), 11 Davit Niniashvili, 10 Luka Matkava, 9 Vasil Lobzhanidze, 8 Tornike Jalagonia, 7 Beka Saginadze, 6 Mikheil Gachechiladze, 5 Konstantine Mikautadze, 4 Nodar Cheishvili, 3 Beka Gigashvili, 2 Shalva Mamukashvili, 1 Guram Gogichashvili.
Replacements: 16 Vano Karkadze, 17 Nika Abuladze, 18 Irakli Aptsiauri, 19 Vladimer Chachanidze, 20 Giorgi Tsutskiridze, 21 Gela Aprasidze, 22 Tedo Abzhandadze, 23 Demur Tapladze.

Date: Saturday, October 7
Venue: Stade de la Beaujoire, Nantes
Kick-off: 15.00 (13.00 GMT, 14.00 UK & Ireland time, 19.00 GET)
Expected weather: Remaining very warm with plenty of sun. High of 28°C and a low of 10°C
Referee: Mathieu Raynal (France)
Assistant referees: James Doleman (New Zealand) & Pierre Brousset (France)
TMO: Brendon Pickerill (New Zealand)

Join free

Walk the Talk | Damian de Allende | The Most Underrated Springbok

All Blacks | In Their Own Words S2 | Episode 1: The Final

The perfect pre-Olympic preparation for France! Men's HSBC SVNS Madrid Day Three Highlights

Australia finish with GOLD! Women's HSBC SVNS Madrid Day Three Highlights

Big Jim Post Match Show - Leinster Rugby vs Toulouse

Greatness | Dan Carter

Walk the Talk | Ardie Savea

Japan Rugby League One Grand Final | Wildknights vs Bravelupus | Full Match Replay

Write A Comment