Two teams, one must-win match. Pool C’s second-placed team Fiji have quarter-final qualification on their minds. Fourth-placed Georgia, who are still in the last-eight running, more realistically have third place, and automatic qualification for the 2027 tournament in Australia on theirs. Meanwhile, the Wallabies, who play on Sunday, will be watching with interest.
The Eastern Europeans’ enthralling 18-18 draw against Portugal in Toulouse last weekend leaves them needing bonus-point wins in both of their last two matches to maintain an outside chance of reaching the knockout phase.
Head coach Levan Maisashviki has made seven changes to his starting 15, including the half-back pairing, with scrum-half Vasil Lobzhanidze and fly-half Luka Matkava in for Gela Aprasidze and Tedo Abzhandadze respectively.
Fiji’s win over Australia last time out, and their losing bonus-point against Wales puts them in the box seat for the second qualification slot in Pool C. A win here would consolidate their position, with a final match against Portugal to come.
With that in mind, Fiji head coach Simon Raiwalui has named a strong squad, featuring just one, injury enforced, change to his starting line-up, as Selesitino Ravutaumada comes in for Jiuta Wainiqolo.
FIXTURE: Fiji v Georgia
GROUND: Stade de Bordeaux (42,060)
KICK-OFF: 17:45 local time (GMT+2)
Fiji have won four of their six matches against Georgia since the two sides’ first meeting 11 years ago. Their most recent meeting, in Madrid last November, ended in a 15-15 draw.
Almost exactly four years prior to the match in Bordeaux, on 3 October 2019, Semi Radradra scored two of Fiji’s seven tries as they beat Georgia 45-10 in Higashiōsaka during Rugby World Cup 2019.
KEY TALKING POINT
What this result here will mean for the other team in the race for the second qualification spot - Australia. Eddie Jones’s side play their final pool match against Portugal on Sunday, but their fate may be sealed long before kick-off in Saint-Étienne. If Fiji bag a bonus-point win here, the Wallabies are heading home before the knockout phase for the first time. If they don’t, Australia breathe again… for now.
Semi Radradra v Akaki Tabutsadze. Lyon-bound Radradra has made 12 dominant carries and beaten eight defenders for Fiji at RWC 2023. In Bordeaux, he’s up against Georgia’s prolific scorer Tabutsadze.
Three Georgian players have won 100 caps or more: Davit Kacharava (122), Merab Kvirikashvili (114) and Giorgi Chkhaidze (100).
Karl Dickson (England). The former professional scrum-half turned whistle-blower has signalled the highest average of scrums per game of any referee at this year’s Rugby World Cup - 21.
FIJI Ilaisa Droasese; Selesitino Ravutaumada, Waisea Nayacalevu (captain), Josua Tuisova, Semi Radradra; Teti Tela, Simione Kuruvoli; Eroni Mawi, Samuel Matavesi, Luke Tagi; Isoa Nasilasila, Te Ahiwaru Cirikidaveta; Lekima Tagitagivalu, Levani Botia, Viliame Mata
Replacements: Tevita Ikanivere, Peni Ravai, Samu Tawake, Temo Mayanavanua, Albert Tuisue, Frank Lomani, Vilimoni Botitu, Vinaya Habosi
GEORGIA Miriani Modebadze; Akaki Tabutsadze, Demur Tapladze, Giorgi Kveseladze, Davit Niniashvili; Luka Matkava, Vasil Lobzhanidze; Mikheil Nariashvili (captain), Tengizi Zamtaradze, Beka Gigashvili; Lasha Jaiani, Konstantine Mikautadze; Mikheil Gachechiladze, Beka Saginadze, Tornike Jalagonia
Replacements: Luka Nioradze, Nika Abuladze, Irakli Aptsiauri, Nodar Cheishvili, Luka Ivanishvili, Gela Aprasidze, Tedo Abzhandadze, Tornike Kakhoidze