2017 Rugby League World Cup - Fiji vs Italy Match Preview

8th Nov 2017 by TSZ

The Lowdown

FIJI

  • Fiji all-but secured their World Cup quarter-final place with another dominant display, this time dispatching Wales 72-6. Suliasi Vunivalu scored a hat-trick to take his tally to five tries in two games and sits joint-top of the try scoring charts alongside Tonga's Michael Jennings.
  • The Fijians have now scored 130 in their opening two games, consisting of 25 tries and 15 conversions. They lead the way in all three stat categories for the tournament.
  • Head Coach Mick Potter is able to name what he deems as his strongest 17 with Brayden Wiliame returning to the side in place of Salesi Faingaa.

Head Coach: Mick Potter

Team: Naiqama; Vunivalu, Milne, Uate, Montoya; Hayne, Raiwalui; A. Sims, Koroisau, Vunakece, Kikau, Wiliame, Kamikamica

Bench: Lovodua, Saifiti, Roqica, Nakubuwai

ITALY

  • Italy responded to their disappointing outing in their opening game by producing a very good display to nil the USA in their second group game.          
  • The 46-0 win was a welcome relief to the Italians after a torrid week on and off the pitch in the previous week but it may be too little, too late as they would need to beat Fiji by a similar score to qualify for the quarter-finals.             
  • Cameron Ciraldo may finally be able to call upon veteran halfback Terry Campese after he pulled out late on for the second game running which would allow James Tedesco to return to a more familiar fullback position. 

Head Coach: Cameron Ciraldo

Team: Tedesco; Cerruto, Castellaro, Milone, Mantellato; Campese, Ghietti; Vaughan, Tramontana, Alvaro, Walker, Minichiello, Brown

Bench: Santi, Wakeman, Riethmuller, Calegari

Analysis - what to expect            
Although this game could decide which team qualifies for the quarter-finals from Group D, it is difficult to envisage Italy overcoming Fiji by such a scoreline to jump ahead of their opponents into first place. The Fijians currently top the group, possessing a two-point lead in competition points but also hold a 90 point advantage in terms of points difference. Italy will struggle to overcome Fiji in this game, let alone turn around the points difference. Expect the free-scoring Fiji to qualify for the quarter-finals with a perfect record whilst adding to their already impressive try tally. 

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