Preview: Georgia vs. Namibia -- Minnows chasing Rugby World Cup history

Richard Heathcote - World Rugby/World Rugby via Getty Images

Namibia vs. Georgia
Wednesday, kick-off 20:00
Sandy Park, Exeter

Georgia and Namibia go into their Pool C clash knowing they can make history. Victory for Milton Haig's Lelos would see them finish the pool stage with two wins for the first time ever, bringing automatic qualification for Japan 2019. Namibia, on the other hand, came close to earning a first-ever World Cup point in defeat to Tonga last week. Phil Davies' side will be confident of going one better on Wednesday.

Team news

Milton Haig has made 10 changes to the XV that started against New Zealand in Cardiff last Friday. All of the tight-five have changed, with only captain Mamuka Gorgodze retained; he moves back to his familiar No.8 role. Tamaz Mchedlidze moves to the wing from midfield, while Merab Kvirikashvili is included for his 88th cap and 15th at a World Cup.

For Namibia, Davies has made seven changes to the side that lost to Tonga. Johnny Redelinghuys replaces Casper Viviers at loosehead, while PJ Van Lill comes into the second row in place of Jaco Venter. Tinus Du Plessis has been given a starting berth at flanker, with Rohan Kitshoff dropping to the bench. Eugene Jantjies comes in for Eneill Buitendag at scrum-half, Darryl De La Harpe has been named in the centres and David Philander comes in for try-scoring Johan Tromp on the wing, with the latter dropped to the bench.

Georgia: Merab Kvirikashvili, Tamaz Mchedlidze, Davit Kacharava, Merab Sharikadze, Alexander Todua, Lasha Malaguradze, Vasil Lobzhanidze; Mikheil Nariashvili, Jaba Bregvadze, Davit Zirakashvili, Giorgi Nemsadze, Konstantine Mikautadze, Giorgi Tkhilaishvili, Viktor Kolelishvili, Mamuka Gorgodze (captain).

Replacements: Shalva Mamukashvili, Karlen Asieshvili, Anton Peikrishvili, Levan Datunashvili, Lasha Lomidze, Giorgi Begadze, Giorgi Aptsiauri, Beka Tsiklauri

Namibia: Chrysander Botha, David Philander, Danie Van Wyk, Darryl De La Harpe, Russel Van Wyk, Theuns Kotze, Eugene Jantjes; Johnny Redelinghuys, Torsten Van Jaarsveld, Raoul Larson, PJ Van Lill, Tijuee Uanivi, Jacques Burger (captain), Tinus Du Plessis, Renaldo Bothma.

Replacements: Louis van der Westhuizen, Jaco Engels, Johannes Coetzee, Wian Conradie, Rohan Kitsoff, Johan Tromp, Damian Stevens, Heinrich Smit

Key head-to-head

Gorgodze was shocked to be announced as the man of the match against New Zealand last Friday, but he will once again be the man to watch on Wednesday. Haig revealed Gorgodze has been carrying a couple of knocks, but the likes of Jacques Burger and Tinus Du Plessis will need to be at their best to stop him.

Key stats

*Top points-scorer:
Namibia, Theuns Kotze (344). Georgia, Merab Kvirikashvili (669).

*Top try-scorer:
Namibia, Gerhard Mans (27). Georgia, Mamuka Gorgodze (26)

*Most caps:
Namibia, Johnny Redelinghuys (50). Georgia, Merab Kvirikashvili (88)

*Form guide:
Namibia - LLWWW. Georgia - WLLWL


Unibet has Georgia down as heavy favourites at 2/13. Considering Namibia's failure to win a single World Cup match, they are priced fairly short at 9/2.

Fantasy player to watch

Theuns Kotze. The Namibian fly-half kicks the goals and, if they manage to score a rare try, his hands are likely to have been involved.


Georgia have the stronger XV but it could be close. Georgia to win by three.