Wed, Oct 17, 5:41pm by Staff Writer
Australia and Tonga will meet in a one-off rugby league international at Mt Smart Stadium in Auckland.
Australia is priced as a $1.30 favourite to win the match, with Tonga the $3.55 outsiders.
The Kangaroos were incredibly disappointing in a 26-24 loss at Mt Smart Stadium a week ago against New Zealand.
A new look squad struggled to gel as they were given a lesson in determination, energy and effort.
The final score in that game flattered the visitors, who were down 26-12 with just five minutes to play.
Mal Meninga is not the sort of coach to give excuses for his side and last weekend’s new combinations will have another week to prove themselves as he has named an unchanged side for this match.
Tonga rose to prominence at last year’s Rugby League World Cup after progressing all the way to the semi finals before a heartbreaking 20-18 loss to England.
The Tongans came home with a flurry but it wasn’t enough as England just held on for the win.
They have played one international this season in June where they defeated Samoa 38-22.
The side has grown in stature since a number of players who would typically chose to represent Australia or New Zealand deflected and chose to represent their native land.
The likes of Andrew Fifita and Jason Taumololo have added tremendously to the team’s forward pack that are without a doubt the most feared in the international game.
Coach Kristian Woolf has not sprung any selection surprises and his team has been in Auckland for more than a week preparing for this game.
The sold out crowd at Mt Smart Stadium will be raucous and heavily in favour of the Tongans, who received tremendous support at last year’s World Cup.
The halves combination of Tuimoala Lolohea and Ata Hingano could prove the downfall of the Tongan side.
They are up against the experience of Luke Keary and Daly Cherry-Evans, with the playmaking roles essential in creating the platform for the Tongan forwards to take control.
Across the park Tonga matches up comparably with the might of Australia and there are plenty of points in the outside backs as well.
Will Hopoate will play at half back, with premiership winners Daniel Tupou and Michael Jennings featuring in the left side wing-centre combination.
Both benches are full of fire power with reserve hookers Ben Hunt and Sione Katoa two players who can ignite their sides.
The Kangaroos are 10.5-point favourites to win this match, with that handicap priced at $1.90.
They were 8.5-point favourites against New Zealand at this venue a week ago.
In margin betting it is Australia to win by 13+ that is the shortest priced option at $2.10. Australia to win by 1-12 points is paying $3.30, while a Tonga win by 1-12 points looks like the best option if you fancy an upset and that is priced at $5.
There is plenty of talent on display in both backlines and that makes the first tryscorer market difficult to gauge.
Last week’s first try scorer against New Zealand was Valentine Holmes and he is the favourite to score first once again, priced at $8.
His Queensland team mate Dane Gagai is next best at $8.50, followed by the Roosters contingent of Latrell Mitchell ($11) and James Tedesco ($12).
One of the NRL’s most prolific try scorers David Fusitu’a is the shortest priced option for Tonga at $12, followed by Daniel Tupou at $13.
There is no doubt Tonga will be up and about for this one, but how are they going to ensure that enthusiasm isn’t followed up by errors, missed tackles and penalties?
The challenge for Australia will be to play their game and develop combinations in what is their final international of the season.
Tonga will have the home crowd advantage and start strongly, but we can see Australia pegging them back throughout the game.
The starting line is far too big and there’s plenty more value in the margin markets in this one.
Best bet- Australia Big Win Little Win 1-12 at $3.30
Tonga v Australia Odds
Tonga $3.55 v Australia $1.30
Handicap: Australia -10.5 ($1.90)
Margin: Tonga 1-12 $5; 13+ $10 Australia 1-12 $3.25, 13+ $2.10
Total match points over/under 42.5 ($1.90)
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