France v Georgia - Teams and Prediction
SPOTLIGHT: Fabién Galthie’s France take on Georgia in their second year-end Test encounter in what is only the second meeting between the two sides.
Les Bleus saw off a resilient Argentina 29-20 in Paris at the Stade de France last weekend with fullback Melvyn Jaminet kicking 19 points to get his side off to a winning start.
France head south to Bordeaux’s Matmut Atlantique for the very first time to face Georgia on Sunday, with their opponents looking for their first triumph over Tier 1 opposition.
Levan Maisashvili’s side have won six of their last seven matches, however, that sole defeat came in their last outing against Australia, a 9-40 loss in July.
And in the only previous meeting between these two at the 2007 Rugby World Cup, France ran out 64-7 victors.
France will have no intention of taking their foot off the gas against the side ranked 12th in the world, with a huge clash against the world’s best side New Zealand awaiting them upon their return to the capital next week.
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Georgia are full of players with Top 14 and Pro D2 experience and the side renowned for their tough scrummaging and physicality up front are sure to provide a stern test for last year’s Nations Cup runners-up.
In terms of team news, Fabién Galthie has made six changes from the XV that prevailed over Los Pumas, the majority coming in the pack.
The only swap in the back division sees a debut for Toulouse wing Matthis Lebel who comes in for Gabin Villiere, who is rested after recently returning from injury.
Five changes come in the forwards with Gregory Alldritt returning to No.8 after coming off the bench against Argentina and Anthony Jelonch shifting to blindside flanker to accommodate him.
Sekou Macalou is promoted from the replacements to fill the No.7 shirt and in a surprise move Cameron Woki plays in the second row for the first time, where he is partnered by Romain Taofifenua as debutant and try scorer Thibaud Flament must make do with a place on the bench.
Prop Mohamed Haouas is rested with one eye on the All Blacks but his place on the tighthead side is filled by the experienced Uini Atonio who will win his 38th cap, with Demba Bamba drafted into the matchday 23.
Galthié has persevered with the new 10-12 combination of Matthieu Jalibert and Romain Ntamack and Gael Fickou, despite suffering a blow to the ear, is fit to start outside them on the occasion of his 65th cap.
France head coach Fabién Galthie said: “Lebel has been playing very well. You can see in training the sort of form he’s in.
“We picked Villiere again after his injury and he played well [against Argentina], but he needs to rest. Lebel has earned his selection, his first one. Every cap counts.
“They [Jalibert and Ntamack] played 50 minutes together [against Argentina] with a feeling of unfinished business.
“We start again with a week more of experience, analysis, work. It should help us to perform better.
“Cameron Woki is our lineout captain, whatever position he plays, he’s in charge of the lineout.
“He has a hybrid profile, with a physicality allowing him to play No. 4.”
Georgia have named a squad featuring 14 players based in France and they will be captained by centre Merab Sharikadze.
The Georgians have been boosted by the return of lock Grigor Kerdikoshvili, flanker Giorgi Tsutskiridze and No.8 Beka Gorgadze from long-term injuries.
Georgia head coach Levan Maisashvili said: “For the first time in the last two years, we have gathered the most optimal composition.
“For the games we have almost all the players we wanted to see at this point.
“It is a pleasant fact to see everyone together after a long break.”
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Players to watch:
For France: Head coach Fabien Galthie had retained Matthieu Jalibert at flyhalf which gives regular No.10 Romain Ntamack a chance at inside centre. The selection raised a few eyebrows but could be a masterstroke. Ntamack partners with Gael Fickou in the midfield, another player that can cause major havoc on the attack. Toulouse wing Matthis Lebel makes his debut. In the pack, No. 8 Gregory Alldritt and flank Sekou Macalou start with second-row Thibaud Flament, who made his international bow last weekend.
For Georgia: Back row forward Beka Gorgadze will make his first Test appearance in almost a year. The No.8 plays club rugby in the Top14 and will be familiar with the French side. Other players who will also have knowledge of the French style of play are Agen lock Grigor Kerdikoshvili and Toulon prop Beka Gigashvili, who all return from injuries.
Head to head:
France v Georgia
@rugby365com: France by 20 points
France: 15 Melvyn Jaminet; 14 Damian Penaud, 13 Gael Fickou, 12 Romain Ntamack, 11 Matthis Lebel; 10 Matthieu Jalibert, 9 Antoine Dupont (captain); 8 Gregory Alldritt, 7 Sekou Macalou, 6 Anthony Jelonch; 5 Romain Taofifenua, 4 Cameron Woki; 3 Uini Atonio, 2 Julien Marchand, 1 Cyrille Baille
Replacements: 16 Peato Mauvaka, 17 Jean-Baptiste Gros, 18 Demba Bamba, 19 Thibaud Flament, 20 Paul Willemse, 21 Francois Cros, 22 Maxime Lucu, 23 Jonathan Danty.
Georgia: 15 David Niniashvili, 14 Akaki Tabutsadze, 13 Giorgi Kveseladze, 12 Merab Sharikadze (captain), 11 Alexandre Todua, 10 Tedo Abzhandadze, 9 Vasil Lobzhanidze, 8 Beka Gorgadze, 7 Giorgi Tsutskiridze, 6 Beka Saginadze, 5 Kote Mikautadze, 4 Grigor Kerdikoshvili, 3 Giorgi Melikidze, 2 Shalva Mamukashvili, 1 Beka Gigashvili.
Replacements: 16 Giorgi Chkoidze, 17 Guram Gogichashvili, 18 Luka Japaridze, 19 Nodar Cheishvili, 20 Tornike Jalagonia, 21 Mikheil Alania, 22 Lasha Khmaladze, 23 Demur Tapladze.
Date: Sunday, November 14
Venue: Matmut Atlantique, Bordeaux
Kick-off: 14.00 (13.00, 17.00 Georgia time)
Expected weather: It’s set to be cloudy with a high of 13°C and a low of 7°C.
Referee: Damon Murphy (Australia)
Assistant referees: Karl Dickson (England) & Sam Grove-White (Scotland)
TMO: Ben Whitehouse (Wales)
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