Rugby League World Cup Quarter Finals set to explode

30 Oct 22, 10:01AM 0 Comments

Written by Keith Whitelock

Photo by Getty Images

While the pool stages of the Rugby League World Cup have been an all-round celebration of the game, we are now entering the business end of the tournament. Teams that have largely provided a feel good factor, such as Greece and Jamaica, will now exit along with 6 other teams as 16 nations are trimmed down to 8.

The past 48 hours has firmed up final finishing positions for England, Australia, Fiji and New Zealand. With four pool games still to play, here’s how the quarter finals are taking shape:

Australia vs Lebanon – Fri 4 November, John Smith’s Stadium, Huddersfield, Capacity: 24,500

With Jamaica $41 outsiders to beat Lebanon, it’s a near certainty that Australia will take on Lebanon in what is expected to be the most one-sided match up of the quarter finals. Lebanon’s NRL talent is crucially in the spine, with Mitchel Moses and Adam Doueihi leading the Michael Cheika coached team around the park. Canterbury Bulldogs rookie Jacob Kiraz has been a shining light for the team at fullback. They’ll need all three of these players to put on a clinic if they’re to keep the scoreboard competitive against the might of Australia.

England vs Papua New Guinea (likely) – Sat 5 November, DW Stadium, Wigan, Capacity: 25,138

England’s opposition is not quite locked in for this game yet, with PNG needing the see off a stubborn Wales side to book their spot in the quarter finals. While it’s highly likely that the Kumals will be capable of ensuring this is the case, stranger things have happened on the rugby league field. If PNG lose this game, Cook Islands would need to beat a highly fancied Tongan side to book their spot in the next stage of the tournament.

New Zealand vs Fiji – Sat 5 November, MKM Stadium, Hull, Capacity: 25,400

The only game officially booked in, New Zealand will head into this match as heavy favorites. In what’s largely been acknowledged as a clunky start to the tournament, the Kiwi side will need to find more cohesion if they’re going to challenge likely semifinal opponents Australia. The return of Jahrome Hughes has instilled renewed faith amongst fans however the glaring lack of a first choice goal kicker could cost the Kiwis as the tournament progresses.

Fiji are not to be underestimated. With Apisai Koroisau directing the team from Hooker, the passion and ability of the Fijians means they are certainly capable of springing an upset. Incredibly, this will be the first World Cup that Fiji haven’t made the final four in if they are to bow out in the quarter finals.

Tonga (likely) vs Samoa/France – Sun 6 November, Halliwell Jones Stadium, Warrington, Capacity: 15,200

This quarter final has by far the most uncertainty around it. Tonga are widely expected to see off the Cook Islands however the team who took the 2017 tournament by storm have been anything but convincing to date. Assuming Tonga wins this pool game, they will play the winner of Samoa vs France.

Despite going into this winner takes all pool game at $13 underdogs, France are a team made up entirely of Super League players and are certainly capable of springing an upset. Expectations around the star studded Samoan team have been greatly tempered since their poor showing against England so this upcoming game is another opportunity to show fans that they deserved to come into the tournament as one of the favorites.

Assuming the favorites win the abovementioned game, it will set up what most would agree to be the game of the quarter finals, as Samoa would take on arch rivals Tonga for a place likely against England in the semifinal. This game had already sold more than 35,000 tickets two weeks ago and will be held at Arsenal’s Emirates Stadium. With a capacity of 60,260 and England likely to feature in this fixture, tournament organisers are expecting a sellout crowd.

All eight teams who make the quarter finals will automatically qualify for the 2025 Rugby League World Cup, to be hosted in France. Once these spots are finalised, it will play a big part in the future international rugby league calendar. Outside of this year’s quarter finalists, 27 nations will soon enter the qualification phase for the 2025 World Cup.

The upcoming quarter final round of the World Cup will be the most competitive in the tournaments history. Fans should not count out an upset. It should make for some amazing viewing come next week.

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