Preview: Wales v Georgia

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Wales are aiming to put and end to the current six-game losing streak this weekend as Georgia are welcomed to Parc y Scarlets on Saturday afternoon, 5.15pm kick-off.

After going down 32-9 to Ireland in the opening round of the Autumn Nations Cup last week, the pressure is on Wayne Pivac after just a year in the job as the national team go through their worst run of form since 2012, with that spell including losses against Australia and New Zealand.

This week presents a great opportunity to get back to winning ways with Wales having overcome Georgia on both previous occasions they have met.

The first of those was back in 2017 when a try from Hallam Amos and the boot of Rhys Priestland secured a scrappy 13-6 win, before Jon Davies, Justin Tipuric, Josh Adams, Liam Williams, Tomos Williams and George North got on the scoresheet, with Leigh Halfpenny and Dan Biggar adding off the tee for a 43-14 win at the Rugby World Cup last year.

Since then The Lelos have gone unbeaten in the Rugby Europe Championship for tier two teams on the continent, but have struggled so far this Autumn, losing 48-7 to Scotland in a warm-up game before starting the Autumn Nations Cup with a 40-0 defeat against England at Twickenham last week.

There are five changes to the Georgian side that took the field in that game against the English, with Jaba Bregvadze coming in at hooker, Kote Mikautadze returning to the second row, Otar Giorgadze getting the nod on the blindside, Vasil Lobzhanidze recalled at scrum-half and most-capped player in the squad Sandro Todua being preferred on the wing.

As always there is plenty of representation from French rugby with six of the pack playing in either the Top14 or ProD2, while the half-back partnership also team up at Brive. Outside that though the centres and back three are either unattached or play in the Georgian Top10 league.

Georgia: Lasha Khmaladze, Akaki Tabutsadze, Giorgi Kveseladze, Merab Sharikadze (c), Sandro Todua, Tedo Abzhandadze, Vasil Lobzhanidze; Mikheil Nariashvili, Jaba Bregvadze, Beka Gigashvili, Grigor Kerdikoshvili, Kote Mikautadze, Otar Giorgadze, Beka Saginadze, Beka Gorgadze

Replacements: Giorgi Chkoidze, Guram Gogichashvili, Lexo Kaulashvili, Lasha Jaiani, Giorgi Tkhilaishvili, Gela Aprasidze, Demur Tapladze, Tamaz Mchedlidze

Wayne Pivac has taken the opportunity to make a raft of changes in his Wales side having named roughly the same team for the first three games of the Autumn. Only Justin Tipuric and Liam Williams survive from the defeat to Ireland, with Williams making the shift from wing to full-back.

Wyn Jones, Elliot Dee and Samson Lee form a new front row partnership, while Seb Davies and Jake Ball are the second row duo. Aaron Wainwright gets the nod at number eight while James Botham will make his debut on the blindside. There is another debut at scrum-half with Kieran Hardy joining Callum Sheedy on his first start. Johnny Williams is the final debutant at inside centre with Nick Tompkins outside him, Johnny McNicholl on one wing and Louis Rees-Zammit making a first start on the other.

The bench sees recalls for Sam Parry, Cory Hill and James Davies, Rhys Webb is fit again to cover scrum-half, while there are potential first outings of the Autumn for Nicky Smith, Leon Brown and Jonah Holmes. Ioan Lloyd is set for his Wales debut if called upon.

Wales: Liam Williams, Johnny McNicholl, Nick Tompkins, Johnny Williams, Louis Rees-Zammit, Callum Sheedy, Kieran Hardy; Wyn Jones, Elliot Dee, Samson Lee, Jake Ball, Seb Davies, James Botham, Justin Tipuric (c), Aaron Wainwright

Replacements: Sam Parry, Nicky Smith, Leon Brown, Cory Hill, James Davies, Rhys Webb, Ioan Lloyd, Jonah Holmes

With the weather looking wet and windy in Llanelli again on Saturday, Wales will have to meet the physical challenge of Georgia up front. The lineout struggled against Ireland last week, so securing ball will be the first priority for the men in red.

If the platform is provided then there is more than enough talent in the backs to get points on the board. Confidence will be key and hopefully the mood in camp and time spent without playing will not impact this young but exciting group selected to start on Saturday.

Hopefully this team can prove they are not a one-off experimental team selection, but the kind of side that Wayne Pivac should be selecting every time Wales take the field. We’ve seen very little from the established players over the last three games, lets give this new direction time to to work.

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