Two fierce old rivals set to face off in Friday’s RLWC semi-final


Credit: 90min

Australia and New Zealand prepare for yet another clash in their historic rivalry, with a place in the RLWC final up for grabs at Elland Road.

On Friday night, Elland Road in Leeds plays host to the 136th edition of the Kangaroos vs the Kiwis. In this historic battle, Australia have taken 100 victories to New Zealand’s 32. The pair haven’t met since 2019.

Although the history books may look one sided, most games were tightly contested and always fierce. In recent times, the contest has been much more even, and we expect to see a very close game tomorrow.

The last time they faced off in a World Cup fixture was 2013. Australia thumped the Kiwis to lift the trophy at Old Trafford in front of 70,000 fans. Although it is not quite a final this time, the spectacle remains the same.

New Zealand are currently the world’s number one ranked side. However, it will be the Kangaroos who are the favourites. They have demolished everything in their way so far this tournament and look in fine form.

The Kiwis on the other hand have struggled to gel on the pitch. At times their attack has looked disjointed, and their defence been made to look weak. Nevertheless, they have picked up the wins in every game and done what they needed to do to get here.

Last weekend they scraped past Fiji, and many people still think they were lucky to do so, after a captain’s challenge was given in their favour. Coach Michael Maguire will be hoping his team can finally perform to their peak tomorrow when they face their toughest test yet.

Maguire was asked about his thoughts on the game, he said:

“The combinations are still growing and it’s something that needs to click for us.

“I believe we have a strong team and a good team. They all understand the expectations and what we’re here for.”

Australia thrashed Lebanon last weekend as they continued their onslaught to the final. They have been playing some top rugby league all tournament under their new captain James Tedesco and coach Mal Meninga.

They boast the tournament’s top try scorer, Josh Addo-Carr, 11, and the joint top points scorer, Nathan Cleary, 58. Furthermore, they have still only conceded 18 points in the whole competition.

Meninga said this ahead of tomorrow’s clash:

“Everyone is fully aware of the enormity of the challenge in front of us. We haven’t been in this situation for a long time.

“We want to play well and win, and then we want to move on and win this World Cup.”

As for the team news, we’ll start with Australia’s 19-man squad, which is as follows;

Josh Addo-Carr, Reagan Campbell-Gillard, Pat Carrigan, Daly Cherry-Evans, Nathan Cleary, Reuben Cotter, Angus Crichton, Tino Fa’asuamaleaui, Harry Grant, Valentine Holmes, Ben Hunt, Liam Martin, Latrell Mitchell, Cameron Munster, Cameron Murray, James Tedesco©, Jack Wighton, Isaah Yeo.

Moving on to New Zealand’s 19-man squad;

Joseph Manu, Ronaldo Mulitalo, Peta Hiku, Jordan Rapana, Dylan Brown, Jahrome Hughes, Jesse Bromwich©, Brandon Smith, James Fisher-Harris, Isaiah Papali’i, Kenny Bromwich, Joseph Tapine, Kieran Foran, Moses Leota, Nelson Asofa-Solomona, Briton Nikora, Dallin Watene-Zelezniak, Issac Liu, Charnze Nicoll-Klokstad.

The match is live on BBC, Kick Off 7:45pm.

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