PREVIEW: Samoa v Tonga

Samoa will look to get their first win of the World Cup when they take on fellow pacific islanders Tonga in a crunch clash on Saturday.

The Samoans didn’t do themselves justice last weekend as they lost 38-8 to New Zealand last week but prior to kick-off, they were expected to do much better and challenge the Kiwis right until the death.

Meanwhile, Tonga, with their much-improved squad, eased past a spirited Scotland side 50-4 in red hot conditions in Cairns.

On paper, Tonga have the more talented team overall because their pack is not just big, it is full of skill and talent that has dominated the NRL for the last couple of years.

However, Samoa have an even bigger pack and are one of the most feared packs in the competition, with the forwards weighing 665kg, yes that’s right, 665kg.

But saying that, Tonga aren’t too far behind, with their pack weighing in at 654kg.

It’s the traditional pacific Test and the clash is expected to draw in a good crowd at the Waikato Stadium in Hamilton on Saturday. There is not too much to predict in the game, apart from there being one or two huge hits in every single set.

KEY BATTLE

All we have talked about in this preview so far is the packs of both outfits and that is where the battle will be. It will be between Samoa’s Junior Paulo and Tonga’s Sio Siua Taukeiaho.

Paulo, alongside his brother Joseph Paulo, starred for the USA in the 2013 tournament and looked great then and he has gone on to become a star for Canberra Raiders in the last 18 months or so and every club in the world would, probably, have him in their squad.

Siua Taukeiaho has gone under the radar since making his NRL debut back in 2013 but is a very reliable prop to have in the team. He has made 64 appearances for Sydney Roosters in the last three years and is even a goal-kicker as well, which is unusual for a prop.

ONES TO WATCH

Samoa have got a couple of talented individuals in their squad but Josh Papalii is the one to watch on Saturday. The 25-year-old has been a regular for Canberra Raiders since making his professional debut back in 2011 and has even made nine appearances for Queensland.

Manu Ma’u was incredible for Tonga in their win over Scotland last week and like Siua Taukeiaho, Ma’u is another player who goes very much under the radar. He is a strong back-rower who has a fine running style and loves to get stuck in when defending.

THE TEAMS

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

TONGA: 1. William Hopoate, 2. Daniel Tupou, 3. Michael Jennings, 4. Solomone Kata, 5. David Fusitua, 6. Tuimoala Lolohea, 7. Mafoa’aeata Hingano, 8. Andrew Fifita, 9. Siliva Havili, 10. Sio Siua Taukeiaho, 11. Manu Ma’u, 12. Sika Manu, 13. Jason Taumalolo. Subs: 14. Sione Katoa, 15. Sam Moa, 16. Peni Terepo, 17. Ben Murdoch-Masila. Reserves: 18. Ukuma Ta’ai, 19. Manu Vatuvei, 20. Konrad Hurrell, 21. Samisoni Langi..

MATCH OFFICIALS

Referee – Ben Cummins, Touch Judges – Dave Munro & Tim Roby, Video Referee – Jared Maxwell.

THE FAVOURITE

Tonga are the slight favourites to take the spoils but there is not much separating the sides and Samoa will be determined to bounce back following a heavy defeat last week but loverugbyleague.com predict Tonga by 14 points.

You can watch the game LIVE on Premier Sports at 06:30am on Saturday 4 November.

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

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