Five things to look forward to: England’s brutal pack, Knights in PNG, New Zealand edges

We have another exciting international weekend to look forward to.  

England’s brutal forward pack

The second Test between England and New Zealand gets underway at 2:30pm on Sunday at Anfield, and it has all the ingredients to be a cracker.

The Lions ran-out 18-16 winners against the Kiwis in the first Test in Hull last weekend, with Oliver Gildart scoring a thrilling try on his international bow. Recent games between the two sides always get feisty, especially in the middle of the park. England’s forward pack got over the top of New Zealand last week, with Tom Burgess and Chris Hill being the standouts.

England have had one of – if not – the best forward pack in the world for a couple of years now but captain Sean O’Loughlin will be a big blow. Adam Milner is set to come in for the injured skipper and watching England’s big men on the big stage is going to be exciting once again.

Scotland v Wales

The Bravehearts host the Dragons this Friday in what is a ‘must-win’ game for both teams in Galashiels.

They both suffered opening round defeats last weekend, to Ireland and France respectively, and if they are to attain automatic qualification to the 2021 Rugby League World Cup then they need to emerge victorious to stay on the trail. The two top nations gain an instant passage to the tournament, which will be held in England.

Craig Robertson and Matt Hogg are in line for possible debuts for Scotland, while Wales have named a strong team, which includes a number of Super League players. Due to it being a must-win game, it will make for fabulous viewing. It will be streamed live on the BBC Sport website at 7:30pm on Friday.

Knights aiming to go two from two

England Knights face Papua New Guinea in the final game of their tour on Saturday, 5am kick-off (UK time).

It is hoped that the game will be streamed on the OuRLeague app, but it will depend on local facilities and connection on the day. The Knights edged past the Kumuls 16-12 in front of a hostile crowd in Lae last weekend, and the game was a real war of attrition between the two teams.

The Knights will return home shortly after the game on Saturday and they are looking to make it a 2-0 Test series win. Paul Anderson has made six changes to his team for the second test, with Harvey Livett, Danny Walker, Jack Walker, Ash Handley, Mikolaj Oledzki and Matt Whitley all coming into the side. Tom Lineham and Sam Powell impressed last week, and the Knights’ squad just shows the amount of talent coming through the ranks in England.

New Zealand’s huge edges

One area of the field where New Zealand can possibly get over the top of England is on the edge. The Kiwis boast an incredible backline, consisting of Dallin Watene-Zelezniak, Ken Maumalo, Esan Marsters, Joseph Manu and Jordan Rapana.

The backs of the Kiwis are bigger than the Lions and although size doesn’t always matter in rugby league, it is certainly a big help and can prove to be a huge advantage.

Marsters, Manu and Maumalo could probably play in the back-row in Super League because of their frames, so England will have to be very wary of that this time around because the pressure is on New Zealand to win and the Kiwis will not be afraid to throw the ball around.

Ireland v France

Ireland take on France on Saturday afternoon, 2pm kick-off and this game will also be streamed live on the BBC Sport website and app.

They boast the stronger squads in this year’s European Championship and this game could be as exciting as the game at Anfield. The Wolfhounds looked very impressive going forward last week and scored 36 points against Scotland, while France bagged 54 points against Wales.

France are the favourites to win the game and are favourites to finish at the top of the European Championship, but this will probably be their toughest competition. It is definitely worth a watch.

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