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RWC 2019: Backline Key To Success Against Georgia

McKee has the players to cut open Georgia, and will likely attempt to do just that at the Hanazono Rugby Stadium. While the bulk of the focus has been on the team’s forwards, our Flying Fijians backline could prove to be the key difference in their penultimate pool game.
29 Sep 2019 12:13
RWC 2019: Backline Key To Success Against Georgia
From left: Fiji Airways Flying Fijians reps Frank Lomani, captain Dominiko Waqaniburotu, Ben Volavola and Levani Botia (on the turf) during the captain’s run inside the Sapporo Dome in Japan. Photo: Bruce Southwick/ZoomFiji

The Fiji Airways Flying Fijians face a stern test of their Rugby World Cup credentials in a must-win game against Georgia on Thursday.

After falling short against Uruguay, John McKee’s side need maximum points against a Georgia team reeling from the 43-14 mauling by Wales last Monday.

McKee has the players to cut open Georgia, and will likely attempt to do just that at the Hanazono Rugby Stadium. While the bulk of the focus has been on the team’s forwards, our Flying Fijians backline could prove to be the key difference in their penultimate pool game.
Georgia’s approach against Wales provides a glimpse into how Los Lelos could setup against the Fijians in search of their first win in Japan. The Milton Haig-coached side were solid at scrum time throughout, winning five out of five scrums and even managed to overhaul a Wales’ one.

They were almost as successful with line-outs, winning 12 from 15, which is a success rate of 80 per cent. Aside from set pieces, Georgia has a reasonably proficient forward pack, which should pose a challenge for our Flying Fijians.

Warren Gatland’s Wales was able to identify Georgia’s strengths early and moved the ball away from their forwards into the midfield from where Jonathan Davies ran the show. It’s no surprise then that all but one of Wales’ five tries were scored by backline players in a dominant performance at Toyota Stadium. It will be interesting to see how the Flying Fijians line up to counter the Georgian threat.

With players like Semi Radradra, Josua Tuisova, Waisea Nayacalevu, Ben Volavola and Levani Botia leading the backline, Fiji has the potential to be as destructive as Wales were.
Glimpses of that potential was seen against Australia and Uruguay although the results never came. There is an expectation that those players will be back to their best given the importance of the Georgia match.

McKee will likely restore Volavola to first five-eighth, with halfback Frank Lomani also expected to return to the starting XV.

Nikola Matawalu’s encouraging two-try display in the final 10 minutes against Uruguay has also made him a contender for selection.

The forwards will be boosted by the return of loose forwards Peceli Yato and Semi Kunatani, meaning Fiji should largely be at full strength. And if the backline is on its game, expect the Fijians to sparkle in Osaka. Edited by Naisa Koroi

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