Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Eye Spy : Taken by Tonga in Tbilisi


Here's the latest intelligence dossier from our secret agent who has been spying on future opponents for Leinster & Ireland this season...

*****

TARGET - Georgia aka The Lelos, who come to Dublin this weekend.

WHO, WHEN, WHERE - They lost in front of a disappointed home crowd last Saturday, by a score of 9-23 to Tonga, whom they must face in their World Cup pool at Kingsholm next year.

OFFENCE -  Didn't get a decent attacking position until the 11th minute but looked lively enough once they did.  Went with pick & go mostly. Lacked cutting edge to get it to the try line though.

DEFENCE - Very well organised, kept out a siege on their line towards the end of the 1st quarter.  Were understandably knackered towards the end. 

SCRUMS - As strong as you'd expect from the Georgians and the reason they led 9-6 going into final quarter.  Bench wasn't strong enough to challenge Tongan put-ins late on and this allowed them to run in the decisive tries.

LINEOUTS - Sloppy on their own throw so probably worth going after.  Pinched one Tongan dart early in 2nd half but couldnt capitalise.

BREAKDOWN - Bullish but knew what they were about when it came to execution with it.  Really, really wanted that ball back every time Tonga had it.  But pretty much on the stroke of 60 minutes, their mojo started to run out against what seemed to be a stronger Tongan bench.

DEE-SEE-PLEENE - (Apologies to Monsieur Gauzère for the Inspector Clouseau humour but it is funny when he says it!) Their breakdown intensity was always going to come at the expense of penalties but despite the late yellow card (high tackle in 73rd min) this is not what cost them as there were already 2 tries in at that stage.

INDIVIDUALS -

"Gorgodzilla" - Conspicuous by his absence.  Even a 50-60m shift from him could have made a difference to the result.

Tkhilaishvili & Koleshvili -  Despite their numbers they were by no means at 6s and 7s.  Tackled their guts out and shouldn't feel responsible for the result.  Like I say, needed a pinch of Mamuka.

Kvirikashvilli - Fullback who took their placekicks.  Didn't seem too comfortable covering kicks in open play to the corners.  Might be better suited to 10 jumper, seemed to be Georgia's most adventurous back.

Nariashvili (aka "Yeti")- Loose head who plays for Clérmont, part of early scrum dominance who's jackling forced a big turnover on his own try line early on.  Could probably have done with his club-mate Davit Zirakashvili in front row with him.

Sharikadze & Kacharava - Centre pairing patrolled their channel well defensively - 24 tackles between them and Tonga had to go wide for scores.

Machkaneli - the skipper will be disappointed with his poor coverage on his wing (he wore 14 but was on the left) for the first two Tongan tries which were fairly routine moves off scrums.  He was in no man's land each time and seemed to rely on tired back rowers to make the tackles.

VERDICT - Georgia showed themselves to be well-drilled in the basics but lacking in nous and 80-minute fitness.  

If Joe Schmidt does half the homework he did before facing the Springboks he should be able to unlock the Lelos pretty handily.  

Keep an eye out for Georgia v Tonga in RWC2015, however...should be a lot closer than this.

*****

NEXT WEEK - Ahead of the big Schmidt v Cheika showdown, our spy will see how the Wallabies get on in Paris.

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