Eagles to Complete Summer Series Against Georgia: Clever Captain

June 16, 2017

Eagles to Complete Summer Series Against Georgia: Clever Captain

Photo: All World Photo

Doug Coil

The Eagles conclude the Emirates Airlines Summer Series at 7 p.m. ET Saturday against Georgia at Fifth Third Bank Stadium at Kennesaw State University. The match will be broadcast live on The Rugby Channel.

Last week the Eagles were defeated by No. 4 Ireland at Red Bull Arena before 22, 370 fans. This week the Eagles face the No. 12 ranked Georgia in preparation for the Rugby World Cup Qualifiers the following two weeks against Canada. Tickets can still be purchased for Saturday’s test via TicketAlternative.

John Mitchell has selected his 23 man squad to face Georgia with Todd Clever returning as captain. Todd will earn his 74th cap in the process, a USA record. In preparation for the qualifiers, Mitchell is trying to provide playing time for for his 30 man squad. With this in mind, there are five new starters and one reserve from players that were not selected for Ireland. Mitchell commented to USA Rugby about the match with Georgia indicating that “It is our second team mix of the series – which is planned this way – and by the end of the weekend we would have given everyone test minutes except Madison Hughes, who we are managing to gain fitness in the 30-man squad.”

The starting forwards include a front row of Tony Purpura, James Hilterbrand and Chris Baumann. Nate Brakely and Ben Landry are the locks with captain Todd Clever and Tom Lamborn the flankers and Cam Dolan No. 8. Ben Landry returns to the Eagles squad for the first time since the 2016 Americas Rugby Championship.

In the backs, Shaun Davies will pair with Will Magie as halfbacks, while AJ MacGinty moves to inside center. Mitchell opted to do the same with MacGinty against Uruguay in the 2017 ARC. This provided an additional play maker in the attack. Bryce Campbell will link with MacGinty at outside center. Vice Captain Nate Augspurger and Matai Leuta will play wing with Mike Te’o at fullback.

In the reserves, Dino Waldren is likely to see his first action at prop and should be joined in the front row by Benn Tarr and Peter Malcolm. Matt Jensen and Andrew Durutalo will also be available at lock and flanker/No.8. respectively. Backs reserves include centers/wings Marcel Brache and Ryan Matyas. Ben Cima rounds out the reserves and could enter at either fullback or flyhalf.

Expect a physical match against Georgia. In the last four matches, the Eagles have beaten the Lelos, a higher ranked opponent. The match should provide a strong test and help to prepare for the challenges against Canada in Toronto on June 24 and in San Diego on July 1.

Milton Haig has made three changes in the starters from their 13-0 win over Canada. Haig rested Levan Chilachava (tighthead prop), Vito Kolelishvili (flanker) and Giorgi Koshadze (wing) against Canada. Both Chilachava and Kolelsihvili joined the national team after completing their Top 14 seasons for Toulon and Clemont Auvergne, respectively. They replaced Anton Peikrishvali, Giorgi Tkhilaishvili and Soso Matiashvilii, respectively as starters, who also were not included as reserves. Shalva Mamukashvili (reserve hooker – 44 caps) was also rested as he also returned from Toulon.

In last week’s match, Davit Kacharava earned his 100th cap, the second to do so after fullback Merab Kvirikashvili with 104.

The starters for Georgia are very experienced with 732 caps (forwards 330 & backs 402). Only Giorgi Koshadze with 5 caps, has less then 22 caps. The reserves are a combination of experience and youth with 227 caps. Forwards Shalva Mamukashvili has 44 caps at hooker, Giorgi Chkhaidze, while who plays for Lille MR, is a flanker with 34 caps. The other forwards are less experienced with Tornike Mataradze (3 caps) and Soso Bekovshvili (6 caps) at props, Otar Giorgadze who plays flanker or lock plays for ASM Clermont Auvergne and has 5 caps and Giorgi Tsutskiridze at flanker with 3 caps (CA Brive). The two backs are very experiences with Giorgi Begadze a scrumhalf with 56 caps and Lasha Malaghuradze with 76 caps at flyhalf playing for AS Beziers.

Men’s Eagles: 1. Tony Purpura 2. James Hilterbrand 3. Chris Baumann 4. Nate Brakeley 5. Ben Landry 6. Todd Clever (C) 7. Tony Lamborn 8. Cam Dolan 9. Shaun Davies 10. Will Magie 11. Nate Augspurger 12. AJ MacGinty 13. Bryce Campbell 14. Matai Leuta 15. Mike Te’o 16. Peter Malcolm 17. Ben Tarr 18. Dino Waldren 19. Matthew Jensen 20. Andrew Durutalo 21. Ben Cima 22. Marcel Brache 23. Ryan Matyas

Georgia: 1 Mikheil Nariashvili 2 Jaba Bregvadze 3 Levan Chilachava 4 Giorgi Nemsadze 5 Kote Mikautadze 6 Lasha Lomidze 7 Vito Kolelishvili 8 Beka Bitsadze 9 Vasil Lobzhanidze 10 Lasha Khmaladze 11 Alexandre Todua 12 Merab Sharikadze (C) 13 Davit Kacharava 14 Giorgi Koshadze 15 Merab Kvirikashvili 16 Shalva Mamukashvili 17 Tornike Mataradze 18 Soso Bekoshvili 19 Giorgi Chkhaidze 20 Otar Giorgadze 21 Giorgi Begadze 22 Lasha Malaghuradze 23 Giorgi Tsutskiridze

USA Men’s Eagles | Summer 2017 Schedule
v. Ireland (Emirates Airline Summer Series) – L 55-19
v. Georgia (Emirates Airline Summer Series) – Saturday, June 17 @ 7 p.m. ET – Fifth Third Bank Stadium at Kennesaw State University
v. Canada (Rugby World Cup 2019 Qualifier) – Saturday, June 24 @ 3 p.m. ET – Tim Hortons Field
v. Canada (Rugby World Cup 2019 Qualifier) – Saturday, July 1 @ 6 p.m. ET – Torero Stadium


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