Samoa are favourites to advance to the Rugby League World Cup quarter-finals when they face Scotland in Cairns on Saturday.
Scotland’s campaign was thrown into disarray following their 74-6 loss against New Zealand in Christchurch. Three players, including veteran Danny Brough were sent home for misconduct after a night on the town. Luke Douglas will lead an inexperienced side who remarkably will qualify for the knock-out stage with an upset win.
It’s more likely that Samoa will advance given their performance against Tonga in Hamilton last Saturday, heralded as the best match in a somewhat mediocre tournament. Josh Papalii, Junior Paulo and Frank Pritchard are part of a fearsome pack which should prove too hard for the Bravehearts to handle.
There’s speculation that Samoa’s Joseph Leilua is expected to sign with the Gold Coast Titans in the next few weeks as Canberra Raiders try to shed players and stay under the 2018 salary cap.
Young Scottish centre and Penrith Panther Lachlan Stein has played above his experience during the tournament in a well-beaten outfit and faces another big test in marking St George-Illawarra’s Tim Lafai.
There’s heavy responsibility on Hull KR’s Danny Addy to steer the Scots around the paddock without the banned Brough. For Tonga it’s another chance for Fa’amanu Brown to show his skills on the International stage as he aims to be a big part of Dean Pay’s squad in 2018.
Further woes for the weakened Scotland side who will be lucky to avoid another 50-point defeat in this tournament. Samoa to advance to the quarter-finals and a potential showdown with Australia.
Samoa by 60
Samoa v Scotland at Barlow Park, Cairns, 8pm (AEDT)
Samoa squad: 1 Young Tonumaipea 2 Ricky Leutele 3 Timoteo Lafai 4 Joseph Leilua 5 Matthew Wright 6 Jarome Luai 7 Fa’amanu Brown 8 Junior Paulo 9 Jazz Tevaga 10 Herman Ese’ese 11 Joshua Papalii 12 Frank Winterstein 13 Bunty Afoa 14 Pita Godinet 15 Joseph Paulo 16 Leeson Ah Mau 17 Sam Tagataese 18 Frank Pritchard 19 Suaia Matagi 20 Ben Roberts 21 Ken Maumalo
Scotland squad: 1 Lewis Tierney 2 Shane Toal 3 Ben Hellewell 4 Lachlan Stein 5 Matthew Russell 6 Danny Addy 7 Oscar Thomas 8 Luke Douglas (c) 9 Callum Phillips 10 Ben Kavanagh 11 Frankie Mariano 12 Dale Ferguson 13 James Bell 14 Kane Bentley 15 Brandan Wilkinson 16 Andrew Bentley 17 Jarred Anderson 18 Alex Walker 19 Will Oakes 20 David Scott 21 Kieran Moran
Referee: Ashley Klein