Rugby League World Cup 2013 Fixtures: Weekend Schedule and Predictions
England, Wales and Ireland will look to emulate Scotland’s midweek heroics when they return to action in the Rugby League World Cup this weekend.
Scotland was the only member of the home nations to emerge victorious in the opening round of fixtures when they overcame Tonga in dramatic fashion.
Round 2 sees England clash with Ireland at the John Smith's Stadium in Huddersfield on Nov. 2, before fellow Group A occupants Australia and Fiji lock horns at Langtree Park.
Scotland face a stern challenge against Italy, who have impressed in recent weeks, while Wales host the USA in Wrexham.
|Nov. 2, 2:30 p.m. GMT||The John Smith's Stadium, Huddersfield||England vs. Ireland||England win > 10|
|Nov. 2, 8 p.m. GMT||Langtree Park, St Helens||Australia vs. Fiji||Australia win > 10|
|Nov. 3, 2 p.m. GMT||Glyndwr University Racecourse Stadium, Wrexham||Wales vs. USA||Wales win < 5|
|Nov. 3, 4 p.m. GMT||Derwent Park, Workington||Scotland vs. Italy||Italy win < 5|
Schedule via rlwc2013.com
Here's a breakdown of this weekend's games.
England vs. Ireland
England have endured a difficult time of it in recent weeks. A loss to Italy in their final warm-up game and issues with team discipline weren't ideal preparation for the highly anticipated event, per BBC Sport.
A 28-20 loss to Australia on the opening game of Pool A won't have come as a shock, but the co-hosts will be the firm favourites against Ireland.
Can England win the 2013 Rugby League World Cup?
Steve McNamara will be without the services of Sam Burgess for the game after he was suspended for a high tackle on Sam Thaiday that left the Australian concussed, per James Riach in The Guardian.
Ireland's qualification hopes from Group A, which will see three teams advance to the knockout stages, were dealt a significant blow when they lost to Fiji.
With tournament favourites Australia to come in their last pool games, Mark Aston's side will see the game against England in Huddersfield as a must-win encounter.
Aston has plenty of players with Super League experience at his disposal, as well as smattering of talent from the NRL. But England possess far more strength and depth across the pitch and should come through the contest comfortably.
Australia vs. Fiji
Fiji sent out a message in their 32-14 victory over Ireland in Rochdale. The Pacific Islanders looked electrifying at times.
Former Australian winger Akuila Uate was central to everything that was good about Fiji, and his performance was rewarded with a hat-trick of tries.
Who looked more impressive in their opening game?
Fiji will need to be wary of keeping their heads against Australia, however. At times against Ireland, their good work almost unraveled due to their indiscipline, and the Aussies won't afford them the second chance that Ireland did.
Australia looked impressive in their opening win against England without ever really hitting first gear.
The pre-tournament favourites will be wary of the threat posed by Fiji, but the Kangaroos will be expected to come through comfortably.
With players like Cameron Smith and Johnathan Thurston, who are considered two of the best ever in their respective positions, situated on the wrong side of 30, they will be hopeful of bagging a world title before it's too late.
Scotland vs. Italy
Italy have looked impressive since landing in England for the World Cup.
They upset England in a friendly ahead of the main event, before overturning Wales 32-16 in Cardiff last Saturday in the opening game in Group C/D.
The Italians have 10 NRL players at their disposal, including Grand Final winner Aiden Guerra, and they look like one of the favourites to clinch one of the two qualification spots from Group C/D.
Scotland, on the other hand, will provide a stern resistance. They showed great determination in their nail-biting 26-24 win over Tonga at Derwent Park.
The victory, which head coach Steve McCormack called "one of their best," per Sky Sports, marked Scotland's second ever win in World Cup history.
Danny Brough's ability with the boot was what clinched it for Scotland, and they will need their skipper, who was voted this year's Man of Steel in Super League, to fire once more if they're to beat Italy.
Wales vs. USA
The USA marked their World Cup debut with victory over the Cook Islands in their opening game, and they will be flying high on confidence when they travel to Wrexham to take on Wales on Sunday.
Wales suffered a disappointing defeat at the Millennium Stadium against Italy on the opening day of the World Cup, a tournament they haven't played in for 13 years.
Wales head coach Iestyn Harris is confident, however, that his team can bounce back against their novice opponents, per BBC Sport.
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