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16 Nov 2017 by TSZ

2017 Rugby League World Cup - New Zealand vs Fiji Match Preview

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The Lowdown

NEW ZEALAND

  • New Zealand fell to defeat to Tonga to finish second in Group B which now means they are on course to face a semi-final with Australia should both sides win their quarter-final matches.
  • The Kiwis were 16-2 up at the break but couldn’t handle Tonga in the second half as they fell to a first World Cup defeat having been in front at half-time.
  • David Kidwell has refrained from making wholesale changes to his side following the Tonga defeat. He makes just a single personnel change with Te Maire Martin replacing Tommy Leuluai although that has seen Danny Levi promoted to the starting side with Kodi Nikorima dropping to the bench with Martin taking his place at stand-off.

Head Coach: David Kidwell

Team: Tuivasa-Sheck; Watene-Zelezniak, Whare, Takairangi, Rapana; Martin, Johnson; Taupau, Levi, Waerea-Hargreaves, Mannering, Tapine, Blair

Bench: Asofa-Solomona, Packer, Liu, Nikorima

FIJI

  • Fiji were too good for Italy as they produced another solid display to qualify for the quarter-finals of the World Cup as winners of Group D.
  • The Fijians head into the game with New Zealand having scored the most points in the group stages with a mammoth total of 168 points, an average of 56 points per game which is the highest of any side.
  • Mick Potter has named an unchanged side for the clash with the Kiwis as his side look to maintain their try-scoring feats of the group stage. They will be looking to get the ball to the tournament's top scorer so far, Suliasi Vunivalu, who has scored eight tries in just three games.

Head Coach: Mick Potter

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

Bench: Lovodua, Saifiti, Roqica, Nakubuwai

Analysis - what to expect
A World Cup semi-final line-up without New Zealand is almost unthinkable but the Kiwis will be wary of falling to back-to-back defeats when they face Fiji in their quarter-final clash. After surrendering a 14-point half-time lead against Tonga last week, New Zealand face a Fiji side that are the competition's leading scorers. It's a big step up in class to anything Fiji have faced so far but they have some dangerous weapons to utilise in attack. New Zealand should bounce back and set up a semi-final with Australia but this could be a much closer game than the Kiwis would like.

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