Even though they are ranked tenth in the world, Tonga has been talked up as the side most likely to make the final four alongside Australia, New Zealand and England.
Looking at both sides on paper, Tonga have the undoubted advantage.
An NRL calibre outside backline has plenty of strike with grand final duo Daniel Tupou (Roosters) and Jorge Taufau (Sea Eagles) linking up on one side. Man-mountain Warriors centre Konrad Hurrell lines up at number four – to say he’ll be a handful is an understatement.
Their pack speaks for itself, while the nippy interchange duo of Nafe Seluini and Micky Paea can pose headaches up the middle of the field.
It’s stating the obviously, but question marks do exist over Tonga’s two 20 year old halves. Penrith NYC representative Daniel Foster lines up with Sydney Roosters’ Samisoni Langi in what must be one of the youngest halves pairings (admittedly haven’t done my research) in the Cup.
Tonga’s last Test was a 36-4 victory over Samoa in April – a match where the Pacific Islanders found the perfect balance between flair, aggression and percentages. If that performance can be replicated, they should be sweet.
On the other side of the paddock, Scotland has fired up the smoke machine by naming a squad of 19. However, it’s easy to see where their strengths lie.
Another NRL player of note is Penrith Panthers playmaker Peter ‘William’ Wallace, who typifies the workmanlike nature of the Wolfhounds (who can forget his ballsy effort in State of Origin a few years ago?).
Those three in particular give Scotland the nous, the question is whether the other 14 can hold their own.
While the weather will nullify the Tongan skill to an extent and the Scots will battle away, it’s hard to see how they will be able to contain the sheer size of their opposition. The plan should be simple for the Islanders, isolate defenders one-on-one and watch the like of Taufau, Hurrell, Jason Taumalolo and Sika Manu wreak havoc on the edges.
Derwent Park, Workington, Tuesday 29 October 2013
Kickoff 8:00pm (7:00am AEDT)
Live AUS TV: 7Mate
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