The second day of action in the Rugby League World Cup is a busy one with three matches in the competition taking place across the four groups. After Australia saw off England in an entertaining opener to the tournament six more sides will begin their quests to go all the way on Saturday morning.
Papua New Guinea vs Wales
The first match in Group C of the tournament sees the co-hosts Papua New Guinea taking on the rags of the outright market in Wales in what is already a must win match for both sides. Just one team qualifies from this section so whoever loses here will have their destiny in the hands of others.
Given the standard the majority of the Welsh squad plays at each match is going to be a tough ask for them in this tournament but this one will be especially so as they head to the co-hosts in a climate which will be completely alien to them and will be playing in front of a passionate crowd who love the sport.
Papua New Guinea are being talked up as dark horses in this tournament and the spine of their side certainly looks strong. The team has been competing to a good level in the Australian domestic scene and with class acts like David Mead and James Segeyaro leading them around the park I expect PNG to put Wales to the sword the longer this one goes on.
New Zealand vs Samoa
The Group B opener is one of the more interesting matches of the first weekend as New Zealand take on Samoa. We will get our first chance to see what has to be described as a depleted Kiwi side after the defections to Tonga and they face a significant early test in the form of Samoa.
New Zealand still have a number of match winners in their side but you suspect they will need to guts it out here against a strong Samoan pack which will be led around the field with some quality in the backs and you could easily see this one turning into something of a real battle.
The rain that is in the forecast for game time here adds another dimension to proceedings so I think I will use this one as a watching brief for what is to come rather than bet on a match which in truth I think the lines are about right for.
Fiji vs USA
The final match of the second day of the tournament has the potential to be something of a mismatch as Fiji take on USA to get Group D underway. Italy are the other team in this group so both sides will be eager to win to set the pathway to the quarter final up for themselves.
USA were the side who stole the hearts of the followers of the tournament four years ago when they made it to the quarter final against all the odds but that was in conditions where they could guts it out against sides not a million miles better than them. Things have changed now and Brian McDermott knows that. He has picked a largely local set of players and you sense this will be all about experience for them.
I don’t think it will be a pleasant experience for them though. This Fiji side look a very efficient outfit and more importantly they look a strong outfit. They have class in the key areas in the likes of Jarryd Hayne, Akuila Uate and Suliasi Vunivalu while the likes of Ashton Sims will give them plenty of muscle.
This looks a really difficult gig for the Americans and while they might warm into the tournament I see them copping a bit of a hiding here.
WON – Back Papua New Guinea (-18) to beat Wales for a 4/10 stake at 1.91 with Bwin
Back them here:
WON – Back Fiji (-32) to beat USA for a 4/10 stake at 2.00 with Betfred
Back them here: