The first order of business for the USA National Team is this simple thing:
Do Not Drop the Ball.
Don’t drop it. If you want to catch it moving forward, and bash through the gainline, great. But above all, do not drop the ball.
Why? Well every time you drop the ball, that means a scrum. Georgia scrums exceedingly well. The Eagles have been making some strides in that area, but it’s early days yet. They are not expected to crush the Lelos when the two eights pack down. So if you don’t want to deal with difficulties in the scrum, don’t drop the ball.
Then there’s a second part of that advice. If Georgia drops the ball, keep playing. What Georgia would love to do is mess up the USA scrum on the Eagle put-in. So don’t give them the chance. On a knock-on from Georgia, play with it; make the advantage work for you.
The USA is the superior team in most other aspects of play, and actually they can hold their own in the scrum if they get it right early.
Shawn Pittman gets the start at loosehead prop, and he seemed to be strong in the scrum against Canada in the second half. But it’s clear that Head Coach Mike Tolkin expects his front row to get stressed. He has picked two props and a hooker on his subs bench.
“[Andre] Liufau is backup because teams always need strength at prop against Georgia,” Tolkin told RUGBYMag.com. “And we need to see what he can do if the opportunity arises.”
Tolkin will be asking a lot, then of his tight five, especially the second row pairing of Brian Doyle and Lou Stanfill, who have no subs on the bench.
“We need the tight five to provide a better platform and to put pressure on Georgia's set piece,” said Tolkin.
Indeed they do.
Where the Eagles should expect dominance is the lineout. Their lineout was working very well against Canada, and it has to be a platform of strength against Georgia.
If they can succeed in the lineout, and keep the ball under control when on offense, and especially in contact, they should beat Georgia.
But dropped balls and penalties will not be their friend.