RLWC 2017 Match Preview: New Zealand vs. Fiji

The two best attacking teams of the 2017 Rugby League World Cup will square off this Saturday as New Zealand take on Fiji for a place in the semifinals.

After a shock loss to Tonga last weekend, New Zealand have drawn a much tougher opponent for their quarterfinal than had perhaps been expected at the start of the tournament; Fiji have scored more points than any other team so far and look tremendously talented out wide.

Fiji also lead all teams in the World Cup for linebreaks with 38, but it's been their defence which will have impressed Coach Mick Potter so far. Fiji have the lowest amount of missed tackles in the competition (50), while their opponents this week in New Zealand have missed 67.

Having combined for a total of 302 points in their last three games, it's shaping as a high-quality attacking display when these two sides face off in what should be a very close content.
 

Quarterfinal 3: New Zealand vs. Fiji

MATCH DETAILS

Date — Saturday, November 18

Time — 5.30pm AEDT

Venue — Westpac Stadium, Wellington

 

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

 

Fiji

Roger Tuivasa-Sheck

1

Kevin Naiqama (capt.)

Dallin Watene-Zelezniak

2

Suliasi Vunivalu

Dean Whare

3

Taane Milne

Brad Takairangi

4

Akuila Uate

Jordan Rapana

5

Marcelo Montoya

Te Maire Martin

6

Jarryd Hayne

Shaun Johnson

7

Henry Raiwalui

Martin Taupau

8

Ashton Sims

Danny Levi

9

Apisai Koroisau

Jared Waerea-Hargreaves

10

Eloni Vunakece

Simon Mannering

11

Viliame Kikau

Joseph Tapine

12

Brayden Williame

Adam Blair (capt.)

13

Tui Kamikamica

Nelson Asofa-Solomona

14

Joe Lovodua

Russell Packer

15

Jacob Saifiti

Isaac Liu

16

Junior Roqica

Kodi Nikorima

17

Ben Nakubuwai

Reserves (NZ) — Kenny Bromwich, Jason Nightingale, Peta Hiku, Addin Fonua-Blake

Reserves (FIJI) — James Storer, Salesi Faingaa, Sitiveni Moceidreke, Pio Sokobalavau

 

RLWC RESULTS SO FAR

New Zealand

Game 1 — New Zealand 38 def. Samoa 8 at Mount Smart Stadium, Auckland

Game 2 — New Zealand 74 def. Scotland 6 at Christchurch Stadium, Christchurch

Game 3 — Tonga 28 def. New Zealand 22 at Waikato Stadium, Hamilton
 

Fiji

Game 1 — Fiji 58 def. United States 12 at 1300 SMILES Stadium, Townsville

Game 2 — Fiji 72 def. Wales 6 at 1300 SMILES Stadium, Townsville

Game 3 — Fiji 38 def. Italy 10 at GIO Stadium, Canberra

 

HISTORY

Both sides head into this quarterfinal having surprisingly never played each other before. Fiji have never played a Test match in New Zealand before, either, while the Kiwis' last time out at Christchurch was an emphatic 66-point drubbing over Scotland in the group stage.

 

KEY MATCHUP — Suliasi Vunivalu (Fiji) v Jordan Rapana (New Zealand)

Two of the game’s most prolific try scorers come up against each other in this mouthwatering clash, both of whom would love to get over the white line to get their side through to the next stage of the tournament. Vunivalu and Rapana finished the 2017 NRL season with 23 and 21 tries respectively, and this form has carried over to the World Cup. Rapana has scored two tries despite missing games in the group stage, while Vunivalu leads all players in the World Cup with an impressive eight four-pointers to his name. While they won't directly mark up on each other, look for both players to again feature prominently close to the line.

 

PREDICTION

Both Fiji and New Zealand have looked impressive throughout the tournament so far, albeit against less-than-impressive opposition on occasion. Fiji will rightly head in to the match as underdogs, particularly given the home ground advantage for the Kiwis, but you've got to wonder what last week's loss to Tonga will do. Coach David Kidwell has made a few changes to the spine to rectify the wayward attack that let them down in the second half, but it remains to be seen how that will fare against a resilient Fiji defence. Fiji have also had the longer preparation for this game, which will have helped, and we think they might just keep this one closer than expected. All four quarterfinals have clear favourites, but if there's going to be an upset, we think it'll come in this one. We'll tip the Kiwis to edge it, but wouldn't be surprised if the Bati keep their fairytale World Cup run alive with an upset victory. New Zealand by 6.

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