As ever in the Rugby League World Cup group stage we have three matches on another busy Saturday in the competition with a stack of star nations in action as we continue to head towards the knockout stage of the tournament.
We’ve already seen Fiji qualify for the quarter finals this weekend and on Saturday we will find out another four quarter finalists on what is an important day as the group stage heads towards a conclusion.
New Zealand vs Tonga
The action kicks off with what could be considered the match of the tournament so far. It is certainly the most anticipated game of the competition to date as New Zealand take on a Tonga side with a number of defected players from the Kiwis.
Passions are likely to be strong in this match and that is something that should not be forgotten. New Zealand have looked very good in this tournament so far while Tonga have won both of their matches so the winner of this one will win the group and most likely face Lebanon in the quarter finals.
I’m expecting a really tense tussle in this match. Shaun Johnson may prove to be the difference as he is the best player on show but in the first half in particular the hits are going to be big and explosive. This is a match to watch rather than bet on in my eyes.
Samoa vs Scotland
The second match of the day is the most important in terms of the remainder of the competition. It is a straight knockout match between Samoa and Scotland. The winners will go into the quarter final and the losers will be going home so the stakes are big here.
Although they have been beaten in both their matches Samoa have offered much in the tournament so far whereas Scotland really haven’t been a factor in the competition at all and have been beaten out of sight on two occasions.
Amazingly those two heavy beatings don’t matter now but clearly Scotland are going to have to raise their game if they are to win this. They will be without their best player in Danny Brough too which won’t help. He was sent home for being too drunk to board a flight last week.
Whether Samoa have it in them to run up the same sort of scoreline that New Zealand and Tonga did against Scotland remains to be seen but I do think they have enough to cover a 34pts start. Scotland have looked bang ordinary so far and I don’t see that changing here.
Australia vs Lebanon
Australia know they will be into the quarter final next week whatever happens here but they have this aim to improve week on week. They take on Lebanon on Saturday with the home side widely expected to win. Lebanon should be safe for a quarter final spot but can secure it officially if they avoid defeat here.
Australia are continuing to rotate their squad for this match to give game time to everyone who needs it and to ensure their main players remain fit and fresh. Lebanon don’t have that luxury so you get the feeling this is going to be a tough 80 minutes for the minnows.
Lebanon looked limited against England last week and had England attacked better they would have beaten them by more. I don’t see Australia’s combinations lacking ruthlessness so I’m on Australia to cover 44 here.
Back Samoa (-34) to beat Scotland for a 4/10 stake at 1.91 with Bwin
Back them here:
Back Australia (-44) to beat Lebanon for a 4/10 stake at 1.91 with Betfred
Back them here: