International Rugby: Wales v Georgia Preview

Wales will be looking to bounce back from their defeat to the Wallabies when they host an ever-improving Georgia outfit this Saturday the 18th of November.

Warren Gatland will be hoping to garner his first win since returning from his British and Irish Lions sabbatical when his side takes on the dogged Georgians at the Principality Stadium. The long-term Welsh mentor's British and Irish Lions coaching gig kept him away from his Welsh lads for last year's Autumn Internationals, the Six Nations, and the Wales' mid-year tour. His absence coincided in a drop in form from the Dragons who narrowly beat Japan, only mustered up a lowly fifth place finish in the 2017 Six Nations, and just pipped Samoa 17-19 during their mid-year tour of the Southern Hemisphere. It seems his return hasn't made the biggest of differences however as his side went down to the Australians in their opening Autumn International.

In contrast, the Georgians have enjoyed a solid year, registering wins over both Canada and America during their mid-year tour. They come into this one off the back of yet another victory over the Canadians, hammering the hapless 'Canucks 54-22 out in Tbilisi.


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Wales v Georgia | Saturday 18 November | The Principality Stadium | 16:30

To Win (80 Mins)
Wales 1/50 | Draw 45/1 | Georgia 7/1
Handicap
Wales (-18.5) 9/10 | Georgia (+18.5) 9/10

Wales
There's no shame in going down to an Australian side, Welsh fans are actually rather used to it, as their side haven't beaten the 'Men from Down Under' since 2008, but the manner of last week's defeat would have left a bitter taste in the mouth of rugby fans from Cardiff to Gwent.
The Dragons came into last week's clash with a low plus handicap affixed to their names, started the game off in solid style and opened the scoring through a Leigh Halfpenny penalty. A flurry of activity occurred during the mid-point of the first stanza with the Aussies dotting down, then the Welsh responded with seven points of their own and the Australians counter-punching with another try. Leigh Halfpenny's boot saw the Welsh head into the final five minutes of the first-half only four points behind their opponents thanks to his (Halfpenny) conversion.

The euphoria at the Principality was to be short-lived, as Michael Hopper dotted down just minutes before the half-time whistle blew. Hooper's five-pointer was the first of two extremely soft tries that the Welsh would concede, with a similarly tame defence effort seeing Kurtley Beale put the death nail in the Welsh coffin late on in the second stanza. Had the Dragons been slightly more committed on defence and not conceded these two wholly avoidable tries, then they may have been able to have snatched the spoils.

Georgia

While the Welsh got their Autumn campaign off to a shaky start, the Georgians had no such trouble as they dispatched of the Canadians without really having to get out of second gear. A formidable showing from their forward pack allowed the Georgian back division to light up the stage with fullback Soso Matiasvilli bagging an incredible 34 points. The 24-year-old also scored one of the tries of the year. Watch it here

Look, the Georgians were by no means flawless and coach Milton Haig will want a lot more from his side defensively, but it must be noted that this was a much stronger Canadian side than the one that was hammered by the Maori All Blacks just shy of a fortnight ago - both DTH van der Merve and Phil Mack featured for the visitors. So to put 54 points past them is a rather impressive feat.
The question now for the Georgians, is can they put in a similar shift against a top tier nation? If their showing in Argentina earlier this year is anything to go by, then they sure as hell can.

Verdict: Georgia (+18.5) 9/10 
This is not going to be the easiest of Tests for a 'Dragons side in transition. The Georgians have a very powerful pack who may well be able to gain dominance at scrum-time. As such, I suspect we're in for a rather narrow Welsh win here.



Written by Darry Worthington for @Hollywoodbets.net

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