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Wednesday, 23 January, 2019

Samoa and Tonga set for low-scoring scrap in Hamilton

Red card could be shown in Pacific Island derby

Andrew Fifita and Michael Jennings celebrate a Tonga try against Scotland
1 of 1

New Zealand v Scotland
Premier Sports, 4am Saturday
Samoa v Tonga
Premier Sports, 6.30am Saturday

The highlight of the second round of matches looks set to be the Pacific Island derby between Samoa and Tonga in Hamilton.

The pair have enjoyed some bruising battles down the years and this should be no different.

Samoa have won the last two dust-ups but Tonga are a different beast in this event having inherited Australian stars Andrew Fifita, Michael Jennings and New Zealand powerhouse Jason Taumalolo along with a host of other stars from the bigger nations.

Tonga have won ten of the last 18 meetings and they are expected to chalk up another victory with bookmakers setting the handicap around the 12-point mark.

However, the last three clashes have featured points totals of only 24, 34 and 40 and it may pay to back a similar outcome. It's 10-11 the match features under 38.5 points and that is worth taking.

It may also be worth having a small-stake bet on a sending off with the potential for things to get heated in what should be a tight affair. These contests can be brutal and neither side is known for their discipline if things start going wrong.

Things have already boiled over off the pitch with fans from the nations clashing ahead of the match prompting an appeal for calm from the two squads.

New Zealand coach Dave Kidwell has made seven changes to his side that beat Samoa 38-8 in their opening pool match last Saturday but they should still be far too strong for Scotland.

Bookmakers think so making the Kiwis 46-point favourites on the match handicap but that looks a bit big.

The last time these two met Scotland stunned New Zealand by holding them to an 18-18 draw in a Four Nations clash in Workington, and while that kind of result from last year may be beyond the Bravehearts this time around, they could stay within the handicap against a side reported to be nursing plenty of bruises and with bigger fish to fry later in the tournament.

Under 38.5 total match points in Samoa v Tonga
2pts 10-11 bet365
Red card to be shown in Samoa v Tonga
0.5pt 9-1 Betway
Scotland +46 v New Zealand
1pt 11-10 BoyleSports

Australia v France
Premier Sports, 9am Friday

Australia's 18-4 win over England in the opening game of the World Cup has put the Green & Golds in control of Pool A and they can virtually seal top spot with a routine win over France.

The game is a big mismatch and that is reflected in the match odds with France 100-1 to land the upset.

Les Chanticleers may have been a touch shorter but for a surprise defeat to Lebanon in their opening assignment. 

France were slight favourites to overcome the Cedars but succumbed to two late tries that left their participation in the tournament all but over. 

A win against Australia or England in their remaining two matches is needed to prolong their stay down under and that looks unlikely.

However, it is possible that France go down fighting and they can make their mark against Australia.

The Aussies have shuffled their pack ahead of more pressing matters later in the competition and that could lead to a disjointed performance from the current world champions.

Debutants Tom Trbojevic and Reagan Campbell-Gillard will start while Cameron Munster and Felise Kaufusiare make their debuts off the bench and it could take them time to gel.

Australia should win handsomely but they may ease up later on with the job done and that makes it risky backing them to cover a handicap in excess of 50 points. Better value may be the 9-2 that France score at least two tries.

France clocked up three against Lebanon and their free-flowing style could see them grab a couple more if the Kangaroos take their foot off the gas.

France over +1.5 tries
2pts 9-2 Betfair, Paddy Power 

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The last time these two met Scotland stunned New Zealand by holding them to an 18-18 draw in a Four Nations clash in Workington
E.W. Terms
Sky bet