Toll Stadium, Whangarei
Kick off: Saturday, 4pm NZ time/3am GB time
1-Peta Hiku 2-Jason Nightingale 3-Dean Whare 4-Shaun Kenny-Dowall 5-Manu Vatuvei 6-Kieran Foran 7-Shaun Johnson 8-Jesse Bromwich 9-Issac Luke 10-Adam Blair 11-Simon Mannering (captain) 12-Kevin Proctor 13-Jason Taumalolo
Interchange: 14-Lewis Brown 15-Suaia Matagi 16-Martin Taupau 17-Tohu Harris 18-Bodene Thompson
1-Tim Simona 2-Antonio Winterstein 3-Tim Lafai 4-Joey Leilua 5-Daniel Vidot 6-Ben Roberts 7-Kyle Stanley 8-Isaac Liu 9-Pita Godinet 10-David Fa’alogo (c) 11-Frank Pritchard 12-Leeson Ah Mau 13-Josh McGuire
Interchange: 14-Dunamis Lui 15-Jesse Sene-Lefao 16-Sauaso Sue 17-Mose Masoe 18-Dominique Peyroux 19-Penani Manumalealii
New Zealand head into this Pacific grudge match knowing a win will see them through to the final of the Four Nations, whilst Samoa will be buoyed by their tremendous performance against England in their previous group game. Most people wrote the Samoan’s off by twenty points at least before the game against England had even kicked off, a mistake I doubt they’ll make again.
The Kiwi’s victory over Australia in Brisbane was also a feather in the cap of the underdog. Comprehensive, New Zealand put a relatively inexperienced Aussie side to the sword, and in doing so opened the tournament wide open. They will head into this game as favourites and rightly so, but will be extra wary of the talents the Samoa side have to offer.
Samoa’s side is made up of a lot of former Kiwi internationals, and this will only serve as extra motivation for them as they take on the country they once represented. These two sets of players know each others games inside out, as such this makes for a fascinating contest.
New Zealand need to maintain the intensity and skill level that was present in their slaying of the Australians last week. They will expect Isaac Luke to exploit the ruck and open up the space for the rest of the side to exploit. Although this is easier said than done, and if Samoa can dominate up front like they did against England, and not let the New Zealand side get on a roll from the ply the ball, they’ll know they have the skill in their outside backs to cause New Zealand problems
New Zealand by 18-24