FIRE DOUSED | After returning to finals action in 2015, the St George-Illawarra Dragons struggled un...
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Georgia vs France at National Stadium, Tbilisi, Sunday 30th October, 7pm
The Dragons face Ireland in a crucial winner takes all European Nations Cup match and a win or draw for Wales will put them into the final in Carcasonne on Saturday 5 November - just one step closer to their first Championship in ten years.
?We played well against Scotland but we failed to convert a single try which is worrying,? said Wales coach, Martin Hall. ?Lee Briers and Mark Lennon have both had extra sessions kicking at goal as well as their regular training this week. When we play internationals, especially against a team with as many strong players as Ireland, we need as many points as we can get.?
There is just one addition to the Wales squad announced earlier this week as Grant Epton becomes the fourth Bridgend Blue Bulls player to be named in the training squad. Wales will confirm their final 17 on Saturday morning but are unlikely to change too much from the line-up that played so well against Scotland at the Brewery Field two weeks ago.
?I?m waiting until after our final training session to pick the team,? added Hall. ?I want to make sure that we have our strongest fittest team possible out on that field.?
The squad has one addition to that which faced Scotland last week, as Michael Brodie of the Limerick based Treaty City Titans is recalled. Brodie is a dynamic player who is capable of striking from anywhere on the field, and was a member of the Irish Grand Final winning team this year.
?We are going into this game with a clean bill of health which is fantastic considering the bruising encounter with Scotland less than a week ago,? said Powell. ?We have an excellent squad to choose from. The guys are settled with a game under our belt and if we play to our potential we will have every chance of booking a place in the Final. We have worked this week on continuity and the guys have responded well.
?It is fantastic being home in Dublin again, after a few games on the road, there is something special about playing in the capital. Maybe it?s the rebel spirit and the passion of Irish Rugby but one thing you can be sure of, come 2.30pm on Saturday the Irish Eyes will be lit with fire.?
France are hot favourites to face Ireland or Wales next week. After their 80-0 win over Russia two weeks ago, the Frenchmen only need to avoid a 60-point defeat against Georgia in Tiblisi on Sunday to qualify for the final on their home ground as they look for their first European title in 24 years.
Ireland: Barrie McDermott (Leeds Rhinos), Barry Sweeney (Waterford Vikings), Billy Treacy (Treaty City Titans), Dean Gaskell (Leigh Centurions), Eoin Power (Kildare Dragons), Eric Roberts (Kildare Dragons), Francis Cummins (Leeds Rhinos), Gareth Haggerty (Castleford Tigers), Ged Corcoran (Dewsbury Rams), Mike Brodie (Treaty City Titans), Karl Fitzpatrick (Salford Reds), Kevin O'Riordan (Treaty City Titans), Martin Gambles (Blackpool Panthers), Michael Platt (Castleford Tigers), Paul Handforth (Castleford Tigers), Paul McNicholas (Hull FC), Philip Purdue (East Coast Eagles), Simon Finnigan (Widnes Vikings), Stuart Littler (Salford Reds), Terry O?Connor (Widnes Vikings), Tony Stewart (Salford Reds), Wayne Corcoran (Halifax).
Wales: Damien Gibson (Halifax), Bryn Powell (Featherstone Rovers), Adam Hughes (Widnes Vikings), Aled James (Sheffield Eagles), Richard Johnson (Aberavon Fighting Irish), Lee Briers (Warrington Wolves, Captain), Mark Lennon (Manly Sea Eagles), David Mills (London Broncos), Ian Watson (Swinton Lions), Gareth Dean (Carcassonne), Anthony Blackwood (Halifax), Jordan James (Castleford Tigers), Phil Joseph (Swinton Lions), Karl Hocking (Bridgend Blue Bulls), Byron Smith (Castleford Tigers), Neil Davies (Aberavon Fighting Irish), Chris Morley (Halifax), Gareth Price (Rochdale Hornets), Lenny Woodard (Bridgend Blue Bulls), Paul Morgan (Bridgend Blue Bulls).