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RLWC Preview: New Zealand vs. Tonga

NZ v TON

The game of the round will kick off early on Saturday afternoon when New Zealand will take on Tonga in a clash that will certainly draw plenty of interest.

Headlined by the inclusion of ex-Kiwis Jason Taumalolo, Manu Ma’u, Tuimoala Lolohea and Manu Vatuvei, Tonga will be looking to secure their third straight win of the World Cup this weekend and, in doing so, secure a stunning upset on top of Pool B.

The second favourites for the tournament before a number of high-profile “defections”, New Zealand were thought by many to be weaker in this year’s World Cup than in years gone by, but have shown no signs of letting up so far. A 72-6 thrashing of Scotland last weekend in Christchurch saw the Kiwis go top of Pool B by 38 points on for-and-against, but they’ll face their biggest test of the tournament thus far against Mate Ma’a Tonga.

If New Zealand beat Tonga, David Kidwell’s side will certainly head in to the knockout rounds as the most likely team to defeat Australia; should they lose, Tonga may well just become the dark-horse selection to go all the way to the final with an easier draw.

It’s certainly a game with plenty on the line and with a slew of intriguing storylines!

Pool B: New Zealand vs. Tonga

MATCH DETAILS

Date — Saturday, November 11

Time — 3:00pm AEDT

Venue — Waikato Stadium, Hamilton

 

LIVE STREAM AND TV INFORMATION

Live Stream — Channel 7’s https://7live.com.au/ (Australia only)

TV — Click here for a full country-by-country list of TV broadcasts.

 

TEAM NEWS

New Zealand

 

Tonga

Roger Tuivasa-Sheck

1

William Hopoate

Dallin Watene-Zelezniak

2

Daniel Tupou

Dean Whare

3

Michael Jennings

Brad Takairangi

4

Konrad Hurrell

Jordan Rapana

5

David Fusitua

Kodi Nikorima

6

Tuimoala Lolohea

Shaun Johnson

7

Mafoa'aeata Hingano

Martin Taupau

8

Andrew Fifita

Thomas Leuluai

9

Sione Katoa

Jared Waerea-Hargreaves

10

Sio Siua Taukeiaho

Simon Mannering

11

Manu Ma'u

Joseph Tapine

12

Sika Manu (capt.)

Adam Blair (capt.)

13

Jason Taumalolo

Nelson Asofa-Solomona

14

Siliva Havili

Russell Packer

15

Sam Moa

Isaac Liu

16

Peni Terepo

Danny Levi

17

Ben Murdoch-Masila

Reserves (NZ) — Kenny Bromwich, Te Maire Martin, Elijah Taylor, Peta Hiku 

Reserves (TON) — Mahe Fonua, Manu Vatuvei, Ukuma Ta'ai,Tevita Pangai Junior

 

RLWC STANDINGS — POOL B

 

Played

Won

Lost

F/A

Points

New Zealand

2

2

0

+98

4

Tonga

2

2

0

+60

4

Samoa

2

0

2

-44

0

Scotland

2

0

2

-114

0

 

HISTORY

Tonga will be hungry for their first ever win over big brothers New Zealand, with the sides having faced off only twice before. Remarkably, their last match was a 72-point whitewash win to the Kiwis back in 1999, and we’re pretty confident in suggesting that this week’s clash will be a little closer this time around.

 

PLAYER TO FOLLOW — Jason Taumalolo, Tonga

The spotlight will be on the young North Queensland wrecking ball in this match, after spurning his nation of birth to represent Tonga, who he played three matches for in the 2013 World Cup. Taumalolo has been a force so far in this tournament, running for 366m, making 39 tackles and scoring a try in just two games. Watch for Adam Blair and the Kiwi forward pack to target the 2016 Dally M winner, after declaring their disappointment in his ‘betrayal’ of the Kiwis jersey, but actually stopping him might be a tougher task. It’ll certainly be a fascinating battle to watch in the middle of the field.

 

PREDICTION

There’s no doubting the passion and interest that will surround this game, and how it actually plays out is anyone’s guess. With what’s on the line and the statement Tonga will want to make, we’re completely behind the smallest geographical nation at the World Cup to come close to an upset, but we’re just not quite sure they can get there. The young halves of Lolohea and Hingano have been extremely good together, but Johnson and Nikorima just looked that little bit better against Samoa, and have just a touch more experience than their counterparts, which will see them home in an absolute thriller. Contender to be the best game of the entire World Cup. New Zealand by 2.

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