Rugby League Pacific Championships Week 2

The Pacific Championships continue this week, with the might of New Zealand having their first run of the tournament against Toa Samoa, while the Kangaroos take the week off.

In the Pacific Plate competition, Fiji Bati make their first appearance against Cook Islands Aitu, while the women's competitions see the Kiwi Ferns face Mate Ma'a, and the PNG Orchids take on Cook Islands Moana.

It makes for an intriguing weekend of international rugby league.

Kiwi Ferns vs. Mate Ma'a
Saturday 21th October 1:45pm (AEDT)
Eden Park, Auckland

Kiwi Ferns: 1. Shanice Parker 2. Cheyelle Robins-Reti 3. Mele Hufanga 4. Abigail Roache 5. Leianne Tufuga 6. Tyla Nathan-Wong 7. Raecene Mcgregor 8. Mya Hill-Moana 9. Brooke Anderson 10. Angelina Teakaraanga Katoa 11. Otesa Pule 12. Annessa Biddle 13. Georgia Hale Bench: 14. Capri Paekau 15. Najvada George 16. Amelia Pasikala 17. Tiana Davison Reserves: 18. Jasmine Fogavini 19. Ash Quinlan 20. Laishon Albert-Jones 21. Apii Nicholls

Mate Ma'a: 1. Langi Veainu 2. Lavinia Tauhalaliku 3. China Polata 4. Litia Fusi 5. Haylee Hifo 6. Cassey Tohi-Hiku 7. Tiana Penitani 8. Folau Vaki 9. Shirley Mailangi 10. Tegan Dymock 11. Amelia Mafi 12. Vanessa Foliaki 13. Dannii Perese Bench: 14. Jade Fonua 15. Natasha Penitani 16. Ilaisaane Taufa 17. Shannon Muru Reserves: 18. Fatafehi Hanisi 19. Monica Samita 20. Sarah Filimoeatu

Verdict: The Kiwis gave Australia a real run last week, before falling short of victory, while Tonga make their first appearance in this competition. Tonga halfback Tiana Penitani has plenty of NRWL experience as well as having previously played for Australia and New South Wales. They will look to her to control the game and set the backs in motion.

New Zealand will be looking to play as well as they did last week, which should be enough to see them comfortably home here. They have the edge in experience and class across the field, and need only bring it all together in Auckland.

Tip: Kiwi Ferns by 28

New Zealand vs. Toa Samoa
Saturday 21th October 4pm (AEDT)
Eden Park, Auckland

New Zealand: 1. Charnze Nicoll-Klokstad 2. Ronaldo Mulitalo 3. Matthew Timoko 4. Joseph Manu 5. Jamayne Isaako 6. Dylan Brown 7. Jahrome Hughes 8. James Fisher-Harris 9. Fa'amanu Brown 10. Moses Leota 11. Isaiah Papali'i 12. Briton Nikora 13. Joseph Tapine Bench: 14. Kieran Foran 15. Nelson Asofa-Solomona 16. Griffin Neame 17. Leo Thompson Reserves: 18. Naufahu Whyte 19. Wiremu Greig 20. Danny Levi 21. Keano Kini

Toa Samoa: 1. Sualauvi Faalogo 2. Murray Taulagi 3. Izack Tago 4. Marion Seve 5. Brian To'o 6. Stephen Crichton 7. Daejarn Asi 8. Stefano Utoikamanu 9. Gordon Chan Kum Tong 10. Junior Paulo 11. Luciano Leilua 12. Connelly Lemuelu 13. Keenan Palasia Bench: 14. Spencer Leniu 15. Terrell May 16. Heilum Luki 17. Justin Matamua Reserves: 18. Royce Hunt 19. Ronald Volkman 20. Greg Marzhew 21. Tommy Talau

Verdict: New Zealand players and coaching staff had the opportunity to sit back and watch their Pacific Cup opponents go at it last weekend. We can expect to see plenty of improvement from the Samoans, who will have benefitted from the run against Australia. The Kiwis on the other hand might have a bit of rust around their combinations, particularly with each member of their spine being from a different club side.

Still, New Zealand have an impressive line-up with a fear-inducing front-row rotation of James Fisher-Harris, Moses Leota and Nelson Asofa-Solomona; a backline bristling with speed and talent; and a halves pairing combining experience and youthful spark.

This promises to be a monumental clash across the park, with a slight class advantage going the Kiwis' way. The Samoans won't be easily overcome, but the Kiwis should find an edge through the forwards before unleashing their exciting backline.

Tip: Kiwis by 14

TAB odds: New Zealand $1.15 (-15.5 $1.80) Samoa $5.50 (+15.5 $2)

PNG Orchids vs. Cook Islands Moana
Sunday 22nd October 1:45pm (AEDT)
Santos National Football Stadium, Port Moresby

PNG Orchids: 1. Latoniya Norris 2. Lyiannah Allan 3. Belinda Gwasamun 4. Shellie Long 5. Freda Waula 6. Sera Koroi 7. Ua Ravu 8. Elsie Albert 9. Roswita Kapo 10. Gloria Kaupa 11. Emily Veivers 12. Essay Banu 13. Jessikah Reeves Bench: 14. Meli Joe 15. Sareka Mooka 16. Bertshiba Awoi 17. Yolanda Taute Reserves: 18. Lancy Ulkambane 19. Leila Kerowa 20. Almah Johnson 21. Delailah Ahose

Cook Islands Moana: 1. Annemarie Kiria-ratu 2. Alesha Willcox 3. Kiana Takairangi 4. Chantelle Holloway-Samuels 5. Mahinaarangi Rewi 6. Chantay Kiria-Ratu 7. Lydia Turua-quedley 8. Ngatokotoru Arakua 9. Chelsea Makira 10. Lavinia Kitai 11. Kaiyah Atai 12. Kerehitina Matua 13. Anneka Stephens Bench: 14. Jazmon Tupou Witchman 15. Paulina Morris-ponga 16. Crystal Tamarua 17. Tiana Kore Reserves: 18. Ariel Ngatoko 19. Rangi Asha Aukino 20. Kiana Sword-tua 21. Jodeci Joseph

Verdict: Both teams make their Pacific Championship debut in this clash in Port Moresby, where the fanatical home crowd will be out in force to support their Orchids.

Orchids five-eighth Sera Koroi will look to combine with Cowboys teammate Shellie Long to set the backs in motion. The Cook Islands will be hoping Titans five-eighth Chantay Kiria-Ratu can work her magic

Expect some major clashes in the forwards, with the team that makes their tackles and best controls the ball coming out on top.

Tip: PNG by 14

Fiji Bati vs. Cook Islands Aitu
Sunday 15th October 4pm (AEDT)
Santos National Football Stadium, Port Moresby

Fiji Bati: 1. Jahream Bula 2. Maika Sivo 3. Sunia Turuva 4. Waqa Blake 5. Mikaele Ravalawa 6. Kurt Donoghoe 7. Brandon Wakeham 8. Tui Kamikamica 9. Penioni Tagituimua 11. Kitione Kautoga 12. Apisalome Saukuru 13. Taane Milne Bench: 14. Noah Nailagoliva 15. Caleb Navale 16. Gordon Whippy 17. Watasoni Waqanisaravi Reserves: 20. Sirilo Lovokuro 21. Pio Seci

Cook Islands Aitu: 1. Esom Ioka 2. Malachi Morgan 3. Kayal Iro 4. Alvin Maungatti 5. Steven Marsters 6. Brad Takairangi 7. Esan Marsters 8. Davvy Moale 9. Ruatapu Ngatikaura 10. William Samuel 11. Zane Tetevano 12. Reuben Porter 13. Pride Petterson-Robati Bench: 14. Kadiyae Ioka 15. Rhys Dakin 16. Justin Makirere 17. Takai Mokohar Reserves: 18. Isaiah Cooper-Tetevano 19. Lucky Pokipoki

Verdict: Fiji make their Pacific Bowl debut against the Cook Islands, who were soundly beaten by the Kumuls last week. Fiji have an impressive line-up up with plenty of NRL experience: Halfback Brandon Wakeham, while never hitting the heights during his NRL career, has enough nous to lead this team around the park. He will have Tigers teammate Jahream Bula looking to cause havoc from the fullback position, and two of rugby league's best finishers on the wings. Out wide is where the Fijians can really open up this game.

For the Cook Islands, Esan Marsters moves into the unfamiliar halfback role to partner Brad Takairangi. There is plenty of experience between these two, and they will need to do a lot of the heavy lifting if this game is to be competitive.

Tip: Fiji by 20

TAB odds: Fiji $1.06 (-23.5 $1.85) Cook Islands $9 (+23.5 $1.95)

All odds correct at time of publication. Check for the latest.