USA Men’s Eagles & Georgia
The USA Rugby Men’s Eagles which are ranked 17th in the world traveled to Tbilisi, Georgia to meet the 12th ranked Lelos on Saturday, November 25 at Lokomotiv Stadium. The match will be broadcast on The Rugby Channel at 9 am ET in the United States.
On November 18 the USA Rugby Men’s Eagles defeated Germany 46-17 at Brita Arena in Wiesbaden. Georgia comes into the match with a 54-22 win against Canada two weeks ago and a 13-6 loss to Wales last week. The teams last played in June with Georgia emerging with a 21-17 victory. Click on the links to access the Georgia squads for the November tests against Canada, Wales, and the USA.
USA Men’s Eagles
Dave Hewett, Interim Head Coach of the Eagles, has made two changes in the starters from their win last week against Germany. Andrew Durutalo and Tony Lamborn, who both had impressive performances against Germany, move to the reserves and with John Quill starting at openside flanker and Samu Manoa joining the team from Toulon and playing No.8. Two changes were also made in the reserves with Nate Brakeley replacing Cam Dolan and JP Eloff also sitting the match out.
Both Mose Fuala’au, from Life West, and David Tameilau, who is nursing an injury and plays for RC Narbonne, returns home. Dylan Fawcitt, who became eligible to play for the USA, flew to Tbilisi, but was not selected to the team at hooker.
The Eagles forwards had one of their best performances in the set pieces against Germany. That will be needed again against one of the best packs in the world in Georgia. In the match in June, Georgia won numerous scrum penalties and constantly had the USA forwards on their back foot. There are a number changes, however in the USA forwards from June, with the availability of additional players from Europe.
Both teams are looking at a physical contest and have six of the reserves as forwards with two being backs.
The front row of Olive Kilifi, Joe Taufete’e and Dino Waldren played significant minutes against Germany. Those minutes could change this week against Georgia as it will be a physical battle in the forwards, so look for Huluhola Mo’ungaloa, Peter Malcolm, and Paddy Ryan to come in during the second half.
Locks Greg Peterson and Nick Civetta were effective against Germany. Peterson exited at the half after some knocks and Nate Brakeley will be ready to go when needed. Either Ben Landry or Samu Manoa could also shift to lock.
In the back row, Tony Lamborn or Andrew Durutalo could enter at flanker for either Landry or Quill, with Durutalo also being an option at No.8.
The backs played aggressively against Germany swinging the ball wide from side to side. Look for that to continue this week. The team swapped Mikey Te’o and Blaine Scully to wing and fullback respectively, in anticipation of the increased territorial kicking game by Georgia.
The halfback combination of Shaun Davies and AJ MacGinty worked well together. Davies generated quick ball and MacGinty provides leadership with positional kicks or being a catalyst for the backs. He is also a very accurate kicker, as it Kvirikashvili, so penalties need to be minimized by both sides.
The Eagles centers consist of hard running Bryce Campbell and the shifty Marcel Brache. Last week against Germany, Brache had a stellar performance along with wing Ryan Matyas and the team will look for both to repeat this week.
That leaves Mikey Te’o, whose switch to wing will provide additional attacking opportunities. Captain Blaine Scully is an experienced back who will be expected to defend against the Georgia kicks, yet to counterattack from fullback.
In the reserves, is Nate Augspurger at scrumhalf and Will Magie, who came into the match last week at flyhalf, shifting MacGinty to inside center. Magie can also play fullback.
The Eagles have had success against Georgia in the past and have one of their best teams for the two match November tests. Georgia has also been playing well and has steadily moved up the rankings to 12th place. With a win, the USA could overtake Samoa for 16th place.
Milton Haig has made six changes to his starters from the 13-6 loss against Wales.
Two of the changes are in the forwards with Giorgi Chkhaidze eraning his 100th cap, the third player do do so for the Lelos. Shlva Sutiashvili, who has not played with the National team since November 2016, will be at blindside flanker.
In the backs Haig has a different No. 9/10 connection for the first time in years with Revaz Jintchvelashvili taking over for Lasha Khmaladze, who will sit out this match. Giorgi Kveseladze will start for the first time for Georgia at inside center. He earned his first cap two weeks ago against Canada. Kveseladze was a member of the squad that participated in the 2017 World U20 Championship. He replaced Davit Kacharava with 103 caps, who was rested for this match.
The other change has Merab Kvirikashvili returning at fullback for his 108th cap. He is the leading scorer for the team. There will also be a change at wing with either young players Soso Matiahvili or Giorgi Kkoshadze playing wing with Lasha Malaguradze being a reserve. The wing decision will be determined on Saturday.
In the backs, there was also a positional change with captain Merab Sharikadze swtiching from inside to outside center.
Georgia is a very experienced team with most of their quad playing professional in Europe. The team has included three younger players with fellow 2017 World Rugby U20 Championship player Mirian Modebadze, earning his third cap at wing, Kveseladze at center and either Matishvili or Koshadze at the other wing.
Georgia: 1 Mikheil Nariashvil 2 Jaba Bregvadze 3 Levan Chilachava 4 Girogi Chkhaidze 5 Kote Mikautadze 6 Shalva Sutiashvili 7 Victor Kolelishvili 8 Beka Bitsadze 9 Vasil Lobzhanidze 10 Revaz Jintchelashvili 11 Miran Modebadze 12 Giorgi Kveseladze 13 Merab Sharikadze (C) 14 Soso Matiashvili or Giorgi Koshadze 15 Merab Kvirikashvili 16 Shalva Mamukashvili 17 Zurab Zhvania 18 Soso Bekoshvili 19 Giorgi Nemsadze 20 Lasha Lomidze 21 Girogi Tkhilaishvili 22 Gela Aprasidze 23 Lasha Malaguradze
USA Men’s Eagles: 1 Olive Kilifi 2 Joe Taufete’e 3 Dino Waldren 4 Greg Peterson 5 Nick Civetta 6 Ben Landry 7 John Quill 8 Samu Manoa 9 Shaun Davies 10 AJ MacGinty 11 Ryan Matyas 12 Bryce Campbell 13 Marcel Brache 14 Mike Te’o 15 Blaine Scully (C) 16 Peter Malcolm, 17 Huluholo Mo’ungaloa, 18 Patrick Ryan, 19 Nate Brakely 20 Andrew Durutalo 21 Tony Lamborn 22 Nate Augspurger 23 Will Magie