TBILISI, Georgia – USA’s smashing defense will take on hosts Georgia in Tblisi on November 27 in what should be a highly physical and lively affair between two rising rugby nations. The Eagles will have a shot at going three for three in their 2010 international test matches.
Eagles Head Coach Eddie O’Sullivan and this staff have had over a month with the squad while on Tour, working to identify the squad for the 2011 Rugby World Cup. Georgia will be a good litmus test for the Eagles as they prepare for the world’s largest stage in New Zealand next year.
The front row will have had much to think about since the Eagles’ last match against Scotland ‘A’ but the personnel O’Sullivan has called on can certainly put on and hold a shove. Mate Moeakiola, Phillip Thiel, and Shawn Pittman are a formidable front row.
Second rowers Samu Manoa and Hayden Smith are a mobile pair of powerful locks that will provide bulk behind the front row. The loose forwards are big, strong, and very experienced. Louis Stanfill will guard the blindside while Eagle captain Todd Clever will look to attack the openside and any Georgian who dares wander there. Inaki Basauri starts at No. 8, moving from his openside post to the base of the scrum. All three loosies have a way of making things happen both on attack and defense.
Tim Usasz and Nese Malifa are a comfortable pair of halfbacks that will look to ignite the Eagle backline that is full of power and pace. Andrew Suniula is always looking for a midfield defender to run around or through and starts at inside center with the experience of Paul Emerick at outside. Emerick and Suniula linked well against Portugal and scored two tries in five minutes. The Eagles that will run on the field Saturday can attack from anywhere, but the back three can be absolutely electric in counter attack.
Chris Wyles will start at his usual fullback spot where his boot and nose for a counter should be a major concern for Georgia. Takudzwa Ngwenya is known for his speed and his confidence in contact has made him a favorite of his professional club, Biarritz. Ngwenya has also been prolific for the Eagles, scoring 35 points in 16 caps. Kevin Swiryn is a steady defender and visionary attacker who will start on the left wing for the USA.
O’Sullivan has named a strong and experienced bench he can call on if need be. Veteran Eagle prop Mike MacDonald has a shot at American history on Saturday. If he gets a run against Georgia, he’ll get his 60th cap for the USA and would become the second Eagle to ever achieve that feat.
Fourteen of the Eagles who will suit up on Saturday were involved in the Eagles’ last match against Georgia in the 2009 Churchill Cup match in Glendale, Colo. The Eagles came away with a 31-13 win against the visiting Georgians and saw both Tim Usasz and Paul Emerick score tries.
Georgia has proven they are tough side to play at home as Canada learned the hard way last weekend. A strong Canadian team was defeated by eight points in the end by the Georgians. The win over Canada moved Georgia up a spot in the IRB World Rankings and they are now nipping at the heels of the Eagles in the rankings.
1 Mate Moeakiola (Bobigny 93), 2 Phillip Thiel (Life University), 3 Shawn Pittman (London Welsh), 4 Samu Manoa (San Francisco Golden Gate), 5 Hayden Smith (Saracens), 6 Louis Stanfill (Mogliano), 7 Todd Clever* (Suntory), 8 Inaki Basauri (L’aquila), 9 Tim Usasz (Nottingham), 10 Nese Malifa (Glendale), 11 Kevin Swiryn (Agen), 12 Andrew Suniula (Chicago Griffins), 13 Paul Emerick (Ulster), 14 Takudzwa Ngwenya (Biarritz),15 Chris Wyles (Saracens)
16 Chris Biller (San Francisco Golden Gate), 17 Mike MacDonald (Leeds Carnegie), 18 Scott Lavalla (Dublin University), 19 Nic Johnson (Denver Barbarians), 20 Mike Petri (Sale), 21 Taivalu Enosa (Belmont Shore), 22 Setareki Tuilevuka (Montpelier)
1 Goderdzi Shvelidze (Montpellier), 2 Akvsenti Giorgadze (Castres), 3 David Kubriashvili (Toulon), 4 Shalva Sutiashvili (Massy), 5 Levan Datunashvili (Figeaque), 6 Simon Maisuradze (Villeurban), 7 Giorgi Chkhaidze (Montpellier), 8 Beasrion Udesiani (Maccon), 9 Irakli Abuseridze* (Auxerre), 10 Lasha Malaguradze (Beziers), 11 Lekso Gugava (Lelo), 12 Tedo Zibzibadaze (Perigueux), 13 Irakli Chkivakdze (Aia), 14 Irakli Machkaneli (Maccon), 15 Basiki Khamashuridze (Aia)
16 Iuri Natriashvili (Farul Constanta), 17 David Zirakishvili (Clermont), 18 Viktor Kolelishvili (Lelo), 19 Giorgi Nesadze (Montauban), 20 Bidzina Samkharadze (Farul Constanta), 21 David Kacharava (Nice Cote d’Azur), 22 Merab Kvirikashvili (Figeaque)