England v Scotland
England went down narrowly to the Kiwis last week and it will be a drop in intensity in this game. Nevertheless, the situation presented to England after their loss last week is one whereby they have to win their remaining two matches. Scotland also went down to the Kangaroos, with the 42-point winning margin overshadowing the effort from the tournament newcomers. The difference in class was evident but Scotland showed that they would make their opponents work for points. Once they settled after appearing startled in the opening 25 minutes, they showed some promise as several NRL stars lead the way. It was always going to be difficult for them to win a match and this challenge is no different. England have rested a few players for this game, most notably James Graham, who got through plenty of work last week. They will need to build confidence heading into next week, especially within their halves. It has been suggested that this was the overall difference between the two teams last week and the Kiwis were not much better in this area. With points hard to come by, they will be out to score plenty of in the first ever meeting between the two sides. There is no doubt that England will be victorious over Scotland, although it will not be as convincing as the Kangaroos last week. Still, there is value to be had and investing in the option below, I would opt to steer clear of the line market altogether.
England 21-40 @ $2.25
Hall of fame = Ryan Hall FTS and/or LTS @ $7 – Hall crossed the line last week for England to put them level with the Kiwis and always appeared threatening in attack. Scotland were caught short on the edges several times last week and with this man looming large, expect more trouble out wide.
New Zealand v Australia
As both teams were victorious last week, the winner of this game is guaranteed a spot in the Final on the 20th November at Anfield. The Kiwis will take plenty away from their 1-point victory over England courtesy of a Shaun Johnson FG in the 65th minute of play. Confidence returned to their team after their 20-point loss to the Kangaroos in Perth just 2 weeks earlier. There were notable improvements within their play, however questions still linger around the overall potential of their halves and how capable they are. It can also be said that England were perhaps the better team for majority of the contest and lacked the finishing touches to grab a victory. The Kangaroos delivered a strong performance against Scotland last week, getting home by 42-points when at one stage they were scoring at “a-point-a-minute”. Other players were given a change and now coach Mal Meninga has taken the interesting approach of resting Cooper Cronk, thus having a new halves pairing with Johnathan Thurston leading the way. That will hardly disrupt the momentum of the Australians and they will again take the game to their opponents in the forwards. Much has been written about the Kiwis having a more powerful forward pack but the fact is that they have been underwhelming in their 2 matches thus far. Combine this with a spine that didn’t deliver for the Warriors and look to have the same amount of confidence in this camp and things are looking very positive for the Kangaroos. The Kiwis are expected to put up a fight but yet again, the Australians will be too strong with superior fitness and a higher class across the park.
Kangaroos -8.5 @ $1.85
A class above! = Kangaroos 13-18 @ $4.75 – The Kiwis will lift for this game but at the end of the day, they are a step below their opponents. They lack the finishing touches at crucial stages to make themselves competitive, meaning that the Kangaroos will have to work hard but eventually prevail by a comfortable margin.