While the 2018 #NRL Pre-Season is still a few weeks away, there's a bunch of warm-up clashes happeni...
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Samoa produced an improved performance last week against Tonga yet ultimately fell 32-18. The most obvious improvement can be seen in their completion rate, which increased to 78% in comparison to the previous week's 57% against New Zealand. Despite this, Samoa were never really able to threaten the Tongan side in the second half, falling away to a 26-6 deficit by the 61st minute. As a result, Matt Parish's side will now need to defeat an undermanned Scotland outfit on Saturday night to ensure that they progress through to the Quarter Finals.
Scotland's chances of causing an upset victory, however, have been marred by ill-discipline and injury. Already without four NRL stars for the tournament through injury, Steven McCormarck also sent home three key players, including captain Danny Brough, for being intoxicated. As a result, Scotland will need to overcome significant hurdles if they are to emerge unlikely victors on Saturday night. They will also need to overcome a dreadful start to their 2017 World Cup campaign in which they have conceded 124 points and scored just 10 in their first two games.
Who to watch: Look for Samoan halfback Ben Roberts to take charge of Saturday night's clash. Roberts is paired with Penrith rookie Jarome Luai, who is yet to taste first grade. Therefore, Roberts needs to take command of his side's attack if they are to progress through to the Quarter Finals. Roberts displayed glimpses of his best in last week's defeat, finishing the game with a try and a line break.
With skipper and five-eighth Danny Brough dropped for Saturday night's match, halfback Oscar Thomas will need to step up and take more responsibility like Roberts. The former Super League Man of Steel is a big loss for the Bravehearts, yet Thomas was still solid in defeat last week, scoring Scotland's only try. If the Bravehearts are to pull off a miracle Thomas will need to spark his side's attack without halves partner Brough.
My tip: Samoa have been disappointing thus far. However, an undermanned Scotland side should present the perfect chance for Parish's men to gain confidence heading into the Quarter Finals. Samoa by 24.
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