It’s been a long time coming, but Australia v Tonga is finally happening! The Palmerbet Sports Team have your rugby league tips and preview right here.

Australia v Tonga @ Mt Smart Stadium
Saturday 20th October, 5:45pm (AEST)

KangaroosMate Ma’a
James Tedesco1Will Hopoate
Dane Gagai2Daniel Tupou
Latrell Mitchell3Michael Jennings
Tom Trbojevic4Solomone Kata
Valentine Holmes5David Fusitu’a
Luke Keary6Tuimoala Lolohea
Daly Cherry-Evans7Ata Hingano
David Klemmer8Andrew Fifita
Damien Cook9Siliva Havili
Jordan McLean10Sio Siua Taukeiaho
Boyd Cordner11Tevita Pangai Jr
Felise Kaufusi12Sika Manu
Josh McGuire13Jason Taumalolo
Ben Hunt14Sione Katoa
Jake Trbojevic15Addin Fonua-Blake
Aaron Woods16Joe Ofahengaue
Tyrone Peachey17Peni Terepo


History:
Played 0

Last Meeting: This is the first meeting between the two nations.

Preview

The expectation last week was that the new-look Kangaroos might struggle a little against a smarting Kiwis side, but ultimately end up victorious.  Instead, they were largely dominated. The 26-24 scoreline did little to disguise what was a lacklustre Kangaroos performance.

With the same team named to take on Tonga on Saturday, Australia are heavy $1.29 favourites despite the rocky start to a new era.

Embarking on a new journey through international waters themselves, Tonga needs a strong performance. It’s important they keep up the momentum generated by their incredible run through to the semi-final of the 2017 World Cup.

The success of this game won’t necessarily be judged on Tonga winning or losing. The chances of Tonga winning is reflected in their $3.50 head-to-head price. However, if they can cover the +10.5 spread, the conversation will likely be around Tonga getting closer and closer to the Tier 1 nations. To get up there, they need consistent performances. A close result on Saturday starts to get them there.

Where It Will Be Won

For Tonga to pull off the unlikely win, they need to dominate through the middle. If Jason Taumalolo, Sia Suia Taukeiaho and Andrew Fifita aren’t getting plenty of touches and generating significant go-forward, Tonga doesn’t have the quality in the halves to manufacture points. Tui Lolohea and Ata Hingano are both talented players. However, they need to be running downhill to have an impact. If they are receiving the ball standing still, the likes of David Fusitu’a and Daniel Tupou won’t be getting the opportunities to score.

To an extent, the middle of the field is where the Kangaroos can also target. If they hold firm defensively and put the Tongan forward on their back, the quality of this side – even without Cameron Smith, Cooper Cronk and Billy Slater – will eventually come out on top.

With Daly Cherry-Evans and Luke Keary pulling the strings in the halves, the Kangaroos outside backs will be presented with plenty of opportunities. As we saw last week with limited chances, they don’t need many to score. With just 39% and only 4:51 spent inside the Kiwis 20, the Kangaroos led 12-8 at halftime.

With Holmes at $1.57, Gagai at $1.73 and Mitchell at $1.83 to score anytime, our traders are anticipating tries to flow in this one.

Final Thoughts

Tonga is hyped up for this game. Already calling it their State of Origin, they’ll give everything they’ve got.

But a vulnerable Kangaroos side might be the most dangerous version. They’ve only suffered back-to-back losses once since 1978 and will be eager to avoid succumbing to their second on Saturday.

Australia can hold their own if not dominate in the forwards. Meanwhile, there’s no question that the superior halves and most potent backline wears green and gold. The crowd will be red and white, but a hostile reception won’t throw off a side with so much big-game experience within it.

Having blown out the cobwebs and somewhat adjusted to their new-look side, the Kangaroos will be too strong for what will be a valiant effort by Tonga. It may come late, but Australia should cover the -10.5 line.

Tip: Handicap – Kangaroos -10.5 @ $1.90