Almanac Rugby League – Triple header Saturday

 

The post-NRL season international rugby league series continues this Saturday with a triple header at Auckland’s Eden Park. Get comfortable, rugby league tragics, tune in to Foxtel or 9Gem, and lap it up while you can!

 

The programme kicks off with the Samoa v Fiji clash at about 11.00am AEST (check your guide). Looking at the team sheets, you’d have to favour Samoa given that they field the likes of Jorge Taufua, Tim Lafai and Joey Leilua in the backs and Junior Paulo, Marty Taupau, Michael Chee-Kam and Danny Levi up front. That’s not to say that Fiji is undermanned given that they boast the likes of Suliasi Vunivalu, Kevin Naiqama, Kane Evans, Viliame Kikau and Tui Kamikamica. It seems to me that there is too much of a gap to the next level for the Fijians to compete with a more even Samoan squad. I’m hoping for a more open, running game than we saw in last weekend’s matches. If so, this will be very entertaining. Samoa by 7+.

 

New Zealand takes on Great Britain in the second game at 2.00pm. Both teams suffered losses last weekend and will be keen to bounce back this time around. The Kiwis have dropped Shaun Johnson after his mixed performance last weekend (to put it politely), recalling the injury-prone Kieran Foran to partner Benji Marshall in the halves. Joseph Tapine gets a start along with Zane Tetevano while Adam Blair and Leeson Ah Mau come off the bench. Tom Burgess makes the starting line-up in a minor Great Britain reshuffle. I favour New Zealand in front of their home fans but I’m not confident. Great Britain has a lot of improvement in them based on last weekend’s showing and could cause what would be a minor upset, however I can’t see the Kiwis dropping two games in a row, especially at home. I’ll stick with New Zealand by <6.

 

The headline game will see the Australian Kangaroos take on the Tongan Invitational Kau To’a at 4.40pm. The Aussies will be hot favourites after their strong, composed dismissal of New Zealand last weekend. Their only change is on the bench where Cameron Murray replaces Ben Hunt. Tonga has made a couple of changes with David Fusitu’a and Ata Hingano coming into the team while last week’s best player, Tesi Niu, has been left out altogether. Strange indeed! To repeat their success of last weekend, the Kau To’a will need to show greater discipline (too many silly penalties last week) and sustain their effort for the full 80 minutes to even think of holding the Kangaroos. I think it will be usual case of the Australians having too many strike weapons for a committed Tongan side. The Tongans played an NRL-style structured game last week. Perhaps they need a little more Pacific Island razzle dazzle in attack this week to unsettle the Aussies. Australia by 13+.

 

Let’s also acknowledge the injury-forced retirement of England and South Sydney great, Sam Burgess. Sam wouldn’t have been out of place in any era of the code with his tough as teak, totally committed, pushing the boundaries, take no backward step, fearless style. You might dislike him intensely in the opposing side but, let’s be honest, you’d absolutely love to have him in your team. Gone from the playing field at the all too young age of just 30!

 

Our writers are independent contributors. The opinions expressed in their articles are their own. They are not the views, nor do they reflect the views, of Malarkey Publications.

 

 

 

 

About Ian Hauser

A relaxed, Noosa-based retiree with a (very) modest sporting CV. A Queenslander through and through, especially when it comes to cricket and rugby league. I enjoy travel, good coffee and cake, reading, and have been known to appreciate a glass or three of wine. As well as being one of Footy Almanac's online editors, I moonlight as an editor for hire - check me out at www.writerightediting.com.au

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