2022 review: Canberra Raiders
63 mins ago | Sam Bourke
All eyes turn to Old Trafford on Sunday to see who will go down in history as Rugby League World Cup Champions as "local" rivals Australia and New Zealand battle it out for the fourth straight time in World Cup finals.
The Jillaroos have been the most dominant side of the tournament having scored 258 points across their five matches including their 82-0 demolition of the PNG Orchids in their semi final and conceding just 8 points which came in their clash in the group stage with New Zealand.
The dominance of the Jillaroos through the competition could be their downfall against New Zealand because with all respect to their opponents, the Jillaroos have only been tested once in the competition and that was against the Kiwi Ferns who almost defeated the Aussies with their high-pressure game. The lack of competition against a side who has had to play back to back tough matches could bite them.
Coach Brad McDonald has brought back some key players including Sam Bremner who returns to the side in the fullback role with Emma Tonegato dropped to the bench. The Aussies will go with a halves combo of Tarryn Aiken and Ali Brigginshaw whilst the bench will consist of Kennedy Cherrington, Lauren Brown, Shaylee Bent along with Tonegato.
The Kiwi Ferns have had a strong tournament without having the dominance of their opponents as they have only suffered the one defeat, that coming against the Aussies were they fell to a late 10-8 defeat despite being the much better team.
The Kiwis started their opening match slowly against France but then dominated the contest before again not being totally dominant as they dispatched the Cook Islands 34-4. The Kiwi Ferns come into the contest battle hardened with two tough matches against the Aussies where they were the better side and then a tough semi-final battle with England which they were able to win 20-6.
There is only one change for the Kiwi Ferns with Autumn-Rain Stephens-Daly returning to the side whilst Katelyn Vaha'akolo is named in the extended reserves having played on the wing against England.
Last meeting: Pool Matches - Week 3 2022 - Australia 10 New Zealand 8
Who to watch: Jillaroos fullback Sam Bremner has been an absolute star across both the NRLW and World Cup since her return from pregnancy just a few months back. Bremner starred for the Roosters and the Jillaroos including a four try haul against the Cook Islands in their opening game. The experience and ability of Bremner could cause issues for the Kiwi Ferns if they are not on their game.
The Kiwi Ferns halfback Raecene McGregor has been another player that starred across the NRLW that has continued their form in the World Cup. McGregor will need to have another big game if the Kiwi Ferns want to overturn the result from their final group game but she possesses the all-round game that can get New Zealand home.
The favourite: Australia are narrowly favoured in this one.
My tip: The Jillaroos were dominant across the competition and scored a narrow victory against New Zealand when they were not at their best in the competition. The Jillaroos will be stronger although the lack of a close contest may hurt them but I think they'll have enough in a tough contest that could go beyond the 80 minutes. Australia by 2.
2. Sam Bremner 24. Evania Pelite 5. Isabelle Kelly 11. Jessica Sergis 10. Julia Robinson 12. Tarryn Aiken 3. Ali Brigginshaw 16. Kennedy Cherrington 8. Keeley Davis 23. Shannon Mato 1. Kezie Apps 18. Yasmin Clydsdale 4. Simaima Taufa 6. Emma Tonegato 13. Shaylee Bent 14. Lauren Brown 20. Caitlan Johnston 9. Holli Wheeler
1. Apii Nicholls 3. Autumn-Rain Stephens-Daly 24. Mele Hufanga 4. Page Mcgregor 5. Madison Bartlett 15. Abigail Roache 7. Raecene McGregor 23. Brianna Clark 9. Krystal Rota 10. Annetta Nuuausala 11. Roxy Murdoch 12. Amber Hall 13. Georgia Hale 8. Mya Hill-Moana 14. Nita Maynard 17. Christyl Stowers 18. Otesa Pule 16. Charlotte Scanlan
Referees: Belinda Sharpe; Sideline Officials: Wyatt Raymond, Darian Furner; Video Referees: Adam Gee;