Rugby League World Cup 2013: Predictions and Preview for Weekend Games

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Rugby League World Cup 2013: Predictions and Preview for Weekend Games
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The group stage of the 2013 Rugby League World Cup is now well and truly getting into the business end of the round as it nears completion.

In Group A, England must overcome Fiji in order to finish second behind a hugely impressive Australia side, who are set to demolish Ireland in front of a home crowd in Limerick.

Group C matches up an already knocked-out showdown of pride between Wales and the Cook Islands, who both suffered at the hands of this year's surprise package, the USA.

Finally, Tonga and Italy face a straight shootout for second in Group D due to Scotland's runaway success at the top of the table.

Below are four brief previews with predictions for the weekend's games.

 

 

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England vs. Fiji: Saturday, November 9, 2:30 p.m. GMT (Group A)

Kevin McNamara looks set to respond to the physical threat of Fiji by bringing in hooker Michael McIlorum and prop James Graham. Sam Burgess and Lee Mossop are also set to feature.

It's fair to say that England have been impressive so far, producing a narrow 28-20 loss against the favourites Australia and a 42-0 thrashing of Ireland.

However, Fiji can boast a similar record from the same fixtures. Their 32-14 win over Ireland and 34-2 loss to Australia are somewhat comparable.

England look to be the most likely team to reach the knockout stages, however, and should prove to be just a bit too much for Fiji.

Prediction: England 28-22 Fiji

 

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Australia vs. Ireland: Saturday, November 9, 8 p.m. GMT (Group A)

Ireland will be preparing to batten down the hatches as Australia head to the Emerald Isle to play their final group game in Limerick.

Damage limitation will be the order of the day, especially considering how much Ireland have already suffered at the hands of England and Fiji so far in the competition.

After all, Australia are currently the world's No. 1 Rugby League side, and the Kangaroos will be sure to punish Ireland if and when they make errors on the field.

Home advantage is unlikely to make much of a difference, so expect a huge margin of victory for the Aussies in Limerick.

Prediction: Australia 64-0 Ireland

 

Michael Steele/Getty Images

Wales vs. Cook Islands: Sunday, November 10, 2 p.m. GMT (Group C/D)

Pride is the only prize available in this dead rubber tie between two teams who were knocked out far earlier than expected.

While the performance of Cook Islands this year has perhaps been the lesser of the two countries' evil attempts at rugby, such faint praise is only possible because expectations were lower for the islanders than they were for the Welsh.

It's fair to say that more was expected of the Dragons, and the team could look to bounce back against their opponents in their fourth and final group game.

Home advantage could play its part, with the match set to take place in Neath.

Prediction: Wales 24-14 Cook Islands

 

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Tonga vs. Italy: Sunday, November 10, 4 p.m. GMT (Group C/D)

Tonga still have a mathematical chance of stealing second place in Group C from Italy, but the Azzuri will be more than ready to fight for their position and defend their slender one-point lead at the top.

Italy have been impressive, using their shock win over England before the tournament to imbue them with confidence, which has so far produced a 30-30 draw with Scotland and a 25-16 win against Wales.

Like so many of their Pacific island rivals, Tonga will prove to be another tough and powerful test but one that the Italians should be able to pass.

Prediction: Tonga 24-26 Italy

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