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Davies ruled out as Wales look ahead to Georgia battle

WALES turn their attention towards a first clash with Georgia on Saturday knowing they will be without centre Jonathan Davies.

The experienced back pulled up late on against Australia and is looking at six months out.

Warren Gatland has a point to prove against critics of Wales’ playing style. Photo: National Assembly for Wales

That should not detract from a performance that showed coach Warren Gatland was genuine when he said he wanted Wales playing more expansive rugby.

The two Evanses – returning loose-head prop Robert, and debutant winger Steffan – looked particularly comfortable in this new system, the latter marking his debut with a fine solo try after beating eight men.

It was not enough to prevent a 21-29 defeat. That Wales were not clinical enough was apparent in the halting build-up to Evans’ try. Neither Liam Williams nor Leigh Halfpenny drew their men properly, meaning Evans had more to do than should have been necessary against Australia’s drifting defence.

The Georgian “Lelos” are no pushovers. Ranked 12th in the world, above Six Nations participants Italy, in June they ran 2015 World Cup semi-finalists Argentina close before eventually succumbing to a 45-29 loss.

Captain Mamuka Gorgodze leads Georgia out against Samoa. They are now ranked above the Polynesians. Photo:UN Women/Maka Gogaladze

One of their most promising players is 24-year-old Soso Matiashvili, whose 34-point haul against Canada last week included a spectacular chase-down try. Currently on the books of Georgian side RC Academy, if he gives anything close to a similar performance in Cardiff he will undoubtedly be picked up by one of Europe’s top clubs.

Matiashvili’s emergence counters the conventional wisdom that Georgia are a team solely built around their forwards.

Wales are no strangers either to jibes about the directness and physicality of a game-plan that has gained notoriety as “Warrenball”. The Georgia game is a chance to put the comments of Captain, Alun Wyn Jones into action.

“We need to work on the balance of how, when, and where we do our attacking,” he said.

Jones and Gatland will be hoping this message is picked up by recalled players Jamie Roberts and Scott Andrews.

Taulupe Faletau’s handling out wide should cause problems for a Georgian defence that often tires after the hour mark against Tier 1 opponents, while Dan Biggar’s in-game decision-making is as sharp as ever.

Wales should, on balance, be too strong for the men from Tbilisi. But it would be foolish to completely write off a Georgian team looking for a famous scalp to bolster their claim for inclusion in the Six Nations. Wales will be hoping that the cure to their white line fever is Georgian.

TV: BBC Wales and S4C, 2.15pm.

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