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#RLWC2017 | GUIDE TO THE KNOCKOUT STAGE

With eight nations remaining in the tournament, we take a look at their prospects to lift the Paul Barrière Trophy on December 2 in Brisbane.

SAMOA

It’s without controversy that Samoa head into the quarter-finals without a win considering Ireland and Italy missed out in Pool C and Pool D despite recording wins during the group phase.

For Samoa the tournament ends with a loss to Australia in Darwin on Friday night.  To prevent a blowout scoreline, ball security is the key.

LEBANON

An excellent tournament by the Lebanese national side with a dash of NRL experience led by Mitch Moses and Robbie Farah.  What they fell short on skill was made up with their passion thanks to Brad Fittler who will likely get the NSW Blues gig once their campaign is over.

It’s unfortunate that they face in-form Tonga in Christchurch this Saturday where their hopes are set to end.  Let’s hope the game continues to grow in Lebanon to gain qualification for the next event.

PAPUA NEW GUINEA

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Cruising through Group C without a loss, Papua New Guinea now face the English in Melbourne on Sunday.

This mad-loving rugby league nation have created more local heroes including Garry Lo, a giant-sized winger who could easily make it in the NRL.

Taking away the home crowd support could make the difference in an early departure from the knock-out stage despite setting the Rugby League World Cup alight.

NEW ZEALAND

Their Kiwis path to winning the World Cup just got harder after their loss to Tonga on Saturday in Hamilton.

Fiji Bati will test the second ranked rugby league nation in the quarter-finals with Jarryd Hayne inspiring their side.  Shaun Johnson will need to be on his game for the Kiwis to book a place in a semi-final showdown with Australia.

If they win the tournament from here it will be heralded as being better than their epic victory in 2008.

FIJI BATI

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A solid contribution by the Bati to date with wins over Italy, USA and Wales.

One thing of concern for coach Michael Potter will be their last start against Italy where they struggled for the first forty minutes before finishing strongly.  The Bati won’t be able to afford a slow start against the Kiwis.

With Jarryd Hayne and premiership winning sensation Suliasi Vunivalu in their squad, this side is capable of making the semi-finals for the third straight Cup.

ENGLAND

The criticism of England’s rugby league team will continue back at home as they struggled to put away both Lebanon and France in their pool matches.

The move of Gareth Widdop to fullback has improved their attack but there’s still some real concern about Luke Gale’s influence on the side after an incredible season with Cas’.

They will prove too experienced for Papua New Guinea in Melbourne, but will face an uphill battle to end Tonga’s campaign in a likely semi-final showdown.

TONGA

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Tonga have been the saviour of this tournament thanks to Jason Taumololo and Andrew Fifita deciding to play for their nation of heritage.

They played knock-out football last week and finished strongly to defeat the higher ranked New Zealand side.

Against Lebanon they must show control, maturity and game management in preparation for a likely showdown with England in the semi-finals.

One’s hoping the Tongan side make the Final in Brisbane for the sake of the world game.

AUSTRALIA

As expected Australia went through the pool stage undefeated despite fielding a different squad each match and not entirely being at the top of their game.

They have one more week to fine-tune some of the elements they’ve struggled with this tournament when they face Samoa.

Things heat up with either Fiji or New Zealand their opponent in the semi-final.  A likely showdown with Tonga is looming on finals night in Brisbane.

Australia deserve to be favourites for the tournament and nothing less will be expected from the host nations fans.

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Editor of nothingbutleague since site inception in 2013. Massive Penrith Panthers fan (Member 13120). Email: mattpnbl@outlook.com

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