PREVIEW: Australia v Samoa

Michael Morgan

Australia have been on fire in the 2017 Rugby League World Cup so far while Samoa will be looking to pick up their first win of the tournament.

The Kangaroos were the favourites to win the competition before it even got underway a couple of weeks ago and the odds haven’t changed since.

They have done all of the simple things right and have been as solid as you can imagine in terms of defence.

Australia have only conceded 10 points in three games. A remarkable record.

Mal Meninga’s Kangaroos have a little bit of advantage, with them rotating their squad throughout the group stages so they are fresher than their opponents.

However, Samoa have by far the bigger pack in the game with the likes of Frank Pritchard, Herman Ese’ese, Josh Papalii and Junior Paulo all set to feature.

Castleford Tigers star Ben Roberts will also return to the Samoa side this week and will add that extra bit of zip when going forward.

And the Tier Two nations aren’t unbeatable, as Tonga proved last weekend with an emphatic win over New Zealand.

All the pressure will be on Australia to win the game so it will be interesting to see how Samoa approach the quarter-final on Friday.

KEY BATTLE

There will be a couple of key battles all over the show but the one between Australia’s Boyd Cordner and Samoa’s Josh Papalii stands out above the rest. Cordner has been a regular for Sydney Roosters since making his debut back in 2011 and is one of the best back-rowers in the world due to his work rate in attack and defence.

Papalii is a brilliant to watch back-rower. The 25-year-old is one of the best in the NRL due to his powerful carries. He has a prop-type frame but can shift as well but most of all, he runs a really good line and torments defences when the ball is in his hand.

ONES TO WATCH

Meninga has made a couple of changes to his halves throughout the tournament with Michael Morgan, Cameron Munster, Cooper Cronk and James Maloney all playing there. Morgan is back in this weekend and what a playmaker he is. The Queensland star can run the game on his own, nevermind having another half-back in the team.

Leeson Ah Mau has been one of the unsung heroes in the Samoa side in the 2017 Rugby League World Cup thus far. The St George Illawarra Dragons star has played over 150 games in the NRL and likes to offload the ball. He is known to put on a couple of big hits per game as well.

THE TEAMS

AUSTRALIA: 1. Billy Slater, 2. Dane Gagai, 3. Will Chambers, 4. Josh Dugan, 5. Valentine Holmes, 6. Michael Morgan, 7. Cooper Cronk, 8. Aaron Woods, 9. Cameron Smith (C), 10. David Klemmer, 11. Boyd Cordner, 12. Matt Gillett, 13. Josh McGuire. Subs: 14. Wade Graham, 15. Jordan McLean, 16. Reagan Campbell-Gillard, 17. Tyson Frizell. Reserves: 18. Felise Kaufusi, 19. Cameron Munster, 20. James Maloney, 21. Ben Hunt.

SAMOA: 1. Young Tonumaipea, 2. Matthew Wright, 3. Ricky Leutele, 4. Joseph Leilua, 5. Tim Lafai, 6. Jarome Luai, 7. Ben Roberts, 8. Junior Paulo, 9. Jazz Tevaga, 10. Herman Ese’ese, 11. Josh Papalii, 12. Frank Pritchard, 13. Leeson Ah Mau. Subs: 14. Fa’amanu Brown, 15. Bunty Afoa, 16. Suaia Matagi, 17. Joseph Paulo. Reserves: 18. Zane Musgrove, 19. Frank Winterstein, 20. Pita Godinet, 21. Ken Maumalo.

MATCH OFFICIALS

Referee – Phil Bentham, Touch Judges – Chris Sutton & Belinda Sleeman, Video Referee – Ashley Klein.

THE FAVOURITE

Australia are clear favourites to win the game, purely for the fact that they are the favourites to win the tournament while Samoa on the other hand have not managed to win yet. Loverugbyleague.com predicts the Kangaroos by 28 points.

You can watch the game LIVE on Premier Sports at 9:30am on Friday 17 November.

How do you see the game going? Who will win? Let us know in the comments below.