England v Samoa RLWC Semi Final preview

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England Men v Samoa Men Sunday 1:30am at Emirates Stadium

Samoa look to defy odds and recent history

England and Samoa meet for the first and only ‘re-match' of this World Cup when they go head to head in the second semi-final at the Emirates Stadium in London. These sides met in the opening match of the tournament back in October and it was an absolute cake-walk for the hosts downing Samoa by 60-6.

Since that game, England have only strengthened and grown in confidence and with the support of their home fans well and truly behind them, they'll be warm favourites to advance into their second consecutive World Cup final. The three-lions have played a devastating display of attacking football in this tournament scoring over 40 points in every game that they have played.

In this match, they've got to simply reach the same heights of four weeks ago. Dominate the forward collisions, which will be a challenge this time around as the Samoans will be keen for revenge after the Newcastle massacre. One important area is the field position battle, if the English backs of Makinson and Young can start England's sets off well, it will be give Williams, Welsby and Tomkins a perfect platform.

For Samoa, it's been a tournament of two halves. You have the lead-up and opening night, then the last three weeks. Samoa's performances in the last three weeks have been scintillating to watch and what we've come to expect of them in this tournament with the side that they named.  Despite a horror injury toll, the Samoans were a joy to watch in their thrilling quarter final win over Tonga.

Their chances were boosted when Junior Paulo and Joseph Suaalii were cleared of their charges at the World Cup judiciary (Paulo on appeal, Suaalii was given a caution). What was impressive about their victory was the way their spine was able to fully utilise the talent around them. Milford had his best game all tournament, providing the platform for two of Samoa's tries, while their forwards were dominated early. But, they did answer back when Paulo and Hunt came back on the paddock.

Last meeting: Pool Matches - Week 1 2022 - England 60 Samoa 6

Who to watch: For England, the focus is squarely on young St Helens half Jack Welsby. Welsby has been immense for the three lions in this World Cup setting up four tries and a further six line-breaks. He was exposed at times defensively last week, missing four of the 13 tackle involvements he had. If he can get his hands on the footy, expect a field day for England.

On the Samoan side of the coin, the focus is squarely on Jarome Luai. After a strong NRL season and World Cup thus far. The pressure though really turns up in the semi-final stage. He was excellent last week against Tonga scoring a try and setting the Tongans up under pressure. After a quiet game last start out against England on opening night, he'll be keen to avenge the loss more than anyone.

The favourite: England are slight favourites for this semi-final. 

My tip: England were at their ruthless best on opening night and to be quite frank. They haven't slowed down at all during this tournament. But, this will definitely be their toughest physical test of the tournament and with a Samoan side desperate to make history it's a match that could go either way. To be safe, I'll tip England to advance, but it's genuinely a toss-up to see who makes it to Old Trafford. England by 2.

1. Sam Tomkins 2. Tommy Makinson 3. Kallum Watkins 4. Herbie Farnworth 14. Dominic Young 6. Jack Welsby 7. George Williams 8. Thomas Burgess 9. Michael McIlorum 18. Chris Hill 11. Elliott Whitehead 12. John Bateman 13. Victor Radley 10. Luke Thompson 15. Morgan Knowles 17. Mike Cooper 20. Mike McMeeken 24. Kai Pearce-Paul

1. Joseph Suaalii 2. Taylan May 25. Tim Lafai 4. Stephen Crichton 5. Brian To'o 6. Jarome Luai 7. Anthony Milford 15. Royce Hunt 21. Fa'amanu Brown 10. Junior Paulo 11. Ligi Sao 12. Jaydn Su'A 23. Oregon Kaufusi 8. Josh Papali'i 16. Spencer Leniu 20. Chanel Harris-Tavita 22. Kelma Tuilagi 26. Ken Sio

Referees: Gerard Sutton; Sideline Officials: Jack Smith, Darian Furner; Video Referees: Adam Gee;

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