New Zealand vs Fiji Preview

Fiji have had a fairly straightforward run to the quarterfinals, they beat Italy, Wales and The USA to get here. They impressed in every game and exceeded 36 points scored in every game. New Zealand offer a new kind of threat though, the likes of which Fiji are yet to see in this tournament.

The Kiwi's will be keen to bounce back from last week's disappointment with a win, New Zealand's defence eventually cracked in the last 20 minutes of the game and cost them the match eventually. They will look to improve on last week's performance with ball in hand too, coming up with 15 errors, a stat that would contribute to the reasons why New Zealand didn't deserve to win against Tonga.

Fiji will be brimming with confidence coming into this match up, they have the competitions leading try scorer in their ranks, The World Cup's all time leading try scorer in there too and they won all of their group matches, so why wouldn't they be. New Zealand will have slightly dented pride after last, a lot will ride on how they react to set things right.

New Zealand: New Zealand have made one key alteration to the side that took on Tonga, this sees Te Maire Martin slot back in the halves with Shaun Johnson and Nikorima starts on the bench. The Kiwi's have clearly seen their error from the week before, by not having a halfback to come on in the last 20 minutes and control the game and slow the pace of the match, New Zealand quickly lost their grasp on the situation.

The Kiwi's are pretty much unchanged, the usual powerhouses feature in the forwards, Taupau and Waerea-Hargreaves are going to see plenty of action in the first 20 minutes. The New Zealanders biggest challenge is going to be out wide, mainly in stopping the outside backs scoring, Takairangi and Whare are going to have to put in a big shift in defence in stop Uate and Milne creating chances.

Fiji: This game will really show how close or far away Fiji are from being regarded as one of the Rugby League Tier 1 teams of years to come. The Fijians have seen off all of their opponents with large pints margins, they will be fully aware that the sides they have faced don't quite match up with the quality the Kiwi's bring to the field. There are going to be some big 1 on 1 battles in this game, players such as Sims, Kikau and Williame vs Taupau, Tapine and Blair. These individual battles are going to be key to metres made.

I expect Fiji are not going to want to get dragged into playing up the middle Rugby League, this means plenty of working on the edges for the Bati. Uate, Milne, Montoya and Vunivalu are all going to see plenty of ball in this match. This could be the area in which this game is won and lost for either side, the defence of Fiji is going to have to withstand a lot of traffic in these areas too, how they face up to this challenge will determine how competitive this match up will be.

Conclusion: New Zealand have shown that they are a beatable side, Fiji are now going to have to create their own luck to hand New Zealand their first back to back World Cup loss since 1989. For me the Kiwi's have learnt and grown from last week's performance and they will be a better team, I'm going to give this one to New Zealand by a margin of at least 14 points.



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