PREVIEW: Samoa v Scotland

There is a lot riding on the clash between Samoa and Scotland, with the winner securing a place in the quarter-finals.

Samoa have yet to win a game in Group B, having lost to New Zealand and Tonga so far. They fell short 32-18 last Saturday in what was a hard-hitting affair.

Meanwhile, Scotland have undersold themselves so far in the tournament, having been beaten heavily by New Zealand and Tonga.

But the top three from Group A and B progress to the quarter-finals and this means that there is one final place up for grabs and it will go to the winner of the Samoa and Scotland match on Saturday.

Samoa produced an improved performance last week against Tonga but it wasn’t enough to get the two points while Scotland were demolished by the Kiwis.

Scotland sent home captain Danny Brough, Sam Brooks and Johnny Walker earlier this week for misconduct and this could work one or two ways for the Bravehearts. They could be brought closer together as a team and put on a good show or with the trio missing, it could break them.

They number fourth ranked team in the world have conceded 124 in just two games, scoring only ten by coach Steve McCormack has made a couple of improvements to his side for Saturday’s decider.

Samoa have the bigger pack, which weighs in at half a ton, but Scotland have a lot of pace in the wide areas of the field so it is shaping up to be a cracker.

KEY BATTLE

There will be a number of big battles in pack but the main one will be between Samoa giant Bunty Afoa and Scotland star James Bell. Afoa has made 20 appearances in the NRL despite only being 21-years-old and will come up against fellow New Zealand Warriors teammate Bell as the pair are both set to start at loose forward.

Bell is a youngster who is talked about quite a lot in the NRL as a potential superstar. The 23-year-old always puts in 110% and loves to get stuck in wherever tackling is concerned. He made his NRL debut earlier this year and is good with the ball in hand so Afoa and Bell will be wanting to get the bragging rights on Saturday.

ONES TO WATCH

Sam Tagataese is the one to keep an eye out for. The 30-year-old Cronulla Sharks ace will play his first game at the 2017 Rugby League World Cup this weekend but he carries a lot of experience and will captain the side in the absence of Frank Pritchard. He is a hard-hitting front-rower and carries the ball well.

As mentioned earlier, the Bravehearts have a lot of pace on the flanks and Matty Russell provides a lot of it. The 24-year-old has pace to burn but he has got a very quick step of his left foot. The Irvine-born winger has enjoyed a fine year for Warrington Wolves and will be looking to get over for a try or two on Saturday.

THE TEAMS

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

SCOTLAND: 1. Lewis Tierney, 2. Shane Toal, 3. Ben Hellewell, 4. Lachlan Stein, 5. Matty Russell, 6. Danny Addy, 7. Oscar Thomas, 8. Luke Douglas, 9. Callum Phillips, 10. Ben Kavanagh, 11. Frankie Mariano, 12. Dale Ferguson, 13. James Bell. Subs: 14. Kane Bentley, 15. Brandan Wilkinson, 16. Andrew Bentley, 17. Jarred Anderson. Reserves: 18. Alex Walker, 19. Will Oakes, 20. David Scott, 21. Kieran Moran.

MATCH OFFICIALS

Referee – Ashley Klein, Touch Judges – Grant Atkins & John Stone, Video Referee – Henry Perenara.

THE FAVOURITE

Samoa are the bookies favourites for this one, probably because of their sheer size compared to the pack of Scotland. But even though the Bravehearts have been heavily beaten in the last two games, they shouldn’t be taken for granted. Loverugbyleague.com predicts Samoa by 38 points.

You can watch the game LIVE on Premier Sports at 6am on Saturday 11 November. 

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

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