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Last Updated: Wednesday, 24 September, 2003, 16:16 GMT 17:16 UK
Form guide: Georgia
Oleg Shukaikailov feels the force of qualifying for the World Cup against Russia last year
Georgia felt the force of their rivals before the World Cup
The World Cup minnows have one of the hardest debuts on rugby's biggest stage when they come up against England in Perth.

Judging by the level of their opponents en route to Australia, they could be found wanting in dramatic fashion.

After overcoming Russia to book their place at the tournament last year, they endured mixed fortunes in the Six Nations B competition in 2003.

They ended their five matches with three victories and two defeats.

The Lelos, as the team are known, had an inauspicious start against a fired-up Portugal, who defeated them 34-30.

Georgian hooker Akvsenti Guoirgadze crossed for two tries, but after his country's slow start it proved too late.

Georgia gained revenge a week later against Portugal's neighbours Spain.

In a one-sided contest, the Georgians comfortably walked away 34-3 winners.

FORM IN 2003
16 Feb: Portugal 34-30 G'gia
22 Feb: Georgia 34-3 Spain
9 Mar: Russia 17-23 Georgia
22 Mar: Czech R 15-30 G'gia
30 Mar: Georgia 6-19 Romania
6 Sep: Italy 31-22 Georgia
That winning streak was stretched to a hat-trick by the beginning of March as Russia and the Czech Republic were swept aside in the matter of a fortnight.

Russia had been gunning for revenge against the team that had kept them out of the World Cup.

But that was not to be in what proved a thrilling, fluctuating contest in which Georgia rallied to take a late victory courtesy of a late Paul Jimsheladze.

In their penultimate World Cup warm-up match, Georgia were at their most convincing against the unfancied Czech Republic, coming away 30-15 winners.

They finished with five tries although the result was not enough to move the Lelos to the top of the Six Nations B standings.

Financial constraints cost them the chance to carry over their momentum into the latter stages of 2003.

They managed just one warm-up game but during it they came within a whisker of a major upset against Italy.

At the final whistle, the Lelos were 31-22 losers but had been 13-13 at half-time and gave Italian coach John Kirwan more than just a simple scare.





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