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Sunday, 18 November, 2018

England face a stern Samoa test in Australia

Knights to be pushed all the way

England's Kevin Brown and Sam Burgess get to grips with Australia full-back Darius Boyd
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10.30am Saturday

In preparation for this autumn's rugby league World Cup, the RFL have controversially decamped their elite Super League players to Australia for a mid-season international with Samoa.

The brainchild of England coach Wayne Bennett, the sport's hierarchy are banking on the Campbelltown clash giving England's players a more intense encounter than they may have had at home.

That theory should hold out with a typically physical Samoa side boasting NRL stars in a number of positions.

Bennett's preparations were dealt a blow with the withdrawal of injured half-back Gareth Widdop.

The St George stand-off has flattered to deceive on the international stage but has starred for the Dragons this season and would have been a shoo-in for the playmaking role.

Thankfully for the legendary coach can still call upon an elite pack including NRL stars Sam Burgess and James Graham.

The sides have met only once before, in the 2014 Four Nations when the Knights prevailed 32-26, and a similar margin of victory looks likely.

England's class should tell but one of the strongest Samoa squads assembled should make their presence felt.

England to win by one to 12 points
2pts 7-4 Hills

The sport's hierarchy are banking on the clash giving England's players a more intense encounter than they may have had back in Super League
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