RUGBY LEAGUE WORLD CUP
GROUP STAGE - SATURDAY
PNG v Wales
This is going to be a very tough assignment for Wales with this being played in the cauldron of Port Moresby against a handy looking PNG side that has four NRL players in Mead, Segeyaro, Baptiste and MacDonald and a host of players from their Queensland Cup winning Hunters side.
The Welsh don’t have a single NRL player in their side and are predominantly made up of Northern Hemisphere based players which is a big disadvantage as the conditions will be totally unfamiliar to them with the heat and humidity set to be through the roof; conditions that the PNG side will flourish in.
The Welsh are going to struggle to come close to matching the pace and exuberance the PNG side will play with and as the home side establish a lead the crowd will become more and more boisterous and ride them home for a big win. Pick - 2 units on PNG - 21.5 point start
New Zealand v Samoa
The kiwis are under a heap of pressure here given the pre-tournament desertions and talk of disharmony within the squad; never have they needed a comprehensive win more so than now on home soil in their opening World Cup match.
Even with the desertions, suspensions and injuries the Kiwis have endured they have still managed to name a very handy side here with a smattering of world class players who are complemented by many hardened NRL stars. There’s no doubt the coaching staff are going to use the rocky road to the World Cup the kiwis have had as a motivating factor here and it’s likely to work for them as emotion levels will be through the roof.
Samoa themselves have a few NRL hardened stars of their own with the likes of Pritchard, Papalii and Leilua all capable of punching big holes in any defence but they lack players who have the finishing touch at this level and it’s attacking the kiwi line where they’re likely to be frustrated.
I sense a huge opening game is on the cards for the kiwis here, they’ll have to weather some huge hits and hard running early on from the Samoans but will run away with it in the second half. Pick - 3 units on New Zealand to win by 13+ points
GROUP STAGE - SUNDAY
Italy v Ireland
Lebanon v France
Scotland v Tonga