By John Davidson, (RLP RLWC Correspondent) Date: 15/11/13
Fiji takes on Samoa in what bodes to be the brutalist 80 minutes of this World Cup.
The Fijians are coming off a loss, after being blown out by England in the second half. The Samoans are coming off a win, after smashing the French in Perpignan in an ill-tempered affair.
Both teams will be missing players due to suspension – Samoa’s Leeson Ah May rubbed out for his shoulder charge on William Barthau and Fiji’s Korbin Sims for a dangerous throw on James Graham.
These infringements point to the way both nations play rugby league. Hard and unforgiving. No quarter asked for, no quarter given. Surely there will be fireworks in Warrington.
These Pacific rivals love to throw the ball around and love to pull off big hits. Expects lots of tries, offloads and bone-crunching tackles.
Both won’t die wondering and both are eager to book a semi-final place alongside the Aussies.
Samoa has the edge in my opinion for two reasons, momentum and home advantage. The Halliwell Jones Stadium was where Toa Samoa took on New Zealand in the opening game of Group B. The Kiwis might have won the match but the Samoans won over the crowd and will likely have the crowd again on Sunday. Their lively comeback got the Warrington fans excited and there could be more to come this weekend. Fiji has mostly been based in Rochdale and will have to get used to a new pitch.
Samoa are also aiming for their third win in a row. Losing to the England Knights and then New Zealand first up, the Samoans seem to be improving with each match. They are finding their feet and working on their combinations, finding some patterns as they go.
Anthony Milford’s kicking is getting better and their defence is getting tighter. I see them just edging past their Pacific neighbours at the Halliwell Jones Stadium.
Fiji is an exciting team and have a captain, Petero Civoniceva, who is a legend. In what could be his final match before retirement, the Fijians will have no lack of inspiration.
The problem is their edge defence is poor and their weakest position is their most important – in their halves. Both Samoa and Fiji have tremendous forwards and potent backs, but Fiji’s 6 and 7 partnership just doesn’t have the experience or strikepower to match Samoa’s.
That’s where I see Samoa getting the advantage and the win on Sunday afternoon. I’m tipping Toa Samoa for victory by 10 points and to secure a semi-final in London.
Fiji Team to take on Samoa
Samoa team to take on Fiji