PACIFIC rivals Samoa and Tonga are set to renew hostilities on the Rugby League World Cup stage as the pair clash at Waikato Stadium in New Zealand.
The match looms as a spiteful one both on and off the pitch this Saturday afternoon.
The Tongan team has called for calm after four of its supporters were reportedly arrested in Auckland after clashing with Samoan supporters on the streets during the week.
Stuff.co.nz reported at the beginning of the week that both teams were out in force since the beginning of the tournament, and that tensions could spill over as the two teams meet on Saturday.
While it is almost at fever pitch on the field for the Samoans, their opening match was a disaster. Toa Samoa went down by 30 points to New Zealand on October 28.
Conversely, Tonga came out and hammered Scotland by 46 points. Mate Ma’a ran in nine tries in blistering Cairns conditions as expectations grow that they could become the most successful tier-two nation in World Cup history.
A bruising encounter is the works for Saturday night, and match-up is predicted between the two sides, and Tonga five-eighth Tuimoala Lolohea is expecting the Soamoans to come out breathing fire.
“Samoa is going to be a real physical game,” he said.
“Both teams have a lot of big boys, a lot of aggression, so it’s going to be a big one.”
The market agrees that Tonga is the team to beat here as the in-form side enter Saturday night’s match up as heavy $1.22 favourites against their Pacific island rivals.
Samoa form and first try scorer odds
There was plenty of optimism around what the Samoans could achieve heading into their first match against New Zealand, but things did not go remotely to plan.
After conceding a try in the opening five minutes, the Samoans were immediately on the back foot. They were only down by a single try at half time but were subsequently blown off the park.
New Zealand scored five unanswered second half tries to put the result beyond doubt. Can the Samoans bounce back against another bitter rival?
Samoa confirmed team
Fa’amanu Brown – $7.50
Ken Maumalo – $17
Joseph Leilua – $17
Ricky Leutele – $20
Tim Lafai – $21
Young Tonumaipea – $23
Bunty Afoa – $23
Josh Papalii – $23
Ben Roberts – $46
Zane Musgrove – $46
Joseph Paulo – $46
Jazz Tevaga – $51
Herman Ese’ese – $51
Leeson Ah Mau – $51
Frank Pritchard – $51
Sam Lisone – $51
Junior Paulo – $56
Tonga form and first try scorer odds
There is something special about what Tonga are building throughout the 2017 Rugby World Cup.
Their 50-4 annihilation of Scotland sent the Tongan fans into into delirium as the man league expert Matt Geyer described as the best player in the world right now, Jason Taumalolo, ran amuck against the Scottlish front rowers.
Tonga captain Sika Manu spoke about the importance of this week’s match up after the heights of their opening contest.
“It’s really important we come down from last week. It was such an emotional game, we just need to settle down and remember that we have got a game this week.”
The question is, can the Tongans move past their win quickly and refocus on the task at hand?
Tonga confirmed team
Michael Jennings -$8.50
Daniel Tupou – $9.50
Will Hopoate – $12
Solomone Kata – $12
Jason Taumalolo – $14
Andrew Fifita – $18
Tuimoala Lolohea – $23
Siliva Havili – $23
Ata Hingano – $26
Manu Ma’u – $26
Sika Manu – $31
Samoa vs. Tonga Match Tip
We think Tonga will win this game soundly.
Similar to last week, we believe the Samoans will come out with plenty of gusto against their Pacific Islander competitors, but once their initial spirit is broken we anticipate the likes of Jennings, Hopoate and Taumalolo to run riot.
Tonga is currently $1.83 to win by 13+ points, and we think that is the best bet of Saturday night’s contest.