Wednesday 21 February 2018 / 05:54 PM

Four Nations: Week 3 preview and line-ups

NEW ZEALAND v ENGLAND, 7.30pm, Saturday November 8, Forsyth Barr Stadium, Dunedin

Stephen Kearney has named the same starting line-up that squeaked past Samoa last week, retaining Manu Vatuvei on the wing ahead of Gerard Beale. He has tweaked the bench, however, with Greg Eastwood returning at the expense of Suaia Matagi and Thomas Leuluai back in the No.14 jumper ahead of Lewis Brown, who has been listed as 18th man.


Kiwis line-up


1. Peta Hiku
2. Jason Nightingale
3. Shaun Kenny-Dowall
4. Dean Whare
5. Manu Vatuvei
6. Kieran Foran
7. Shaun Johnson
8. Jesse Bromwich
9. Issac Luke
10. Adam Blair
11. Simon Mannering (captain)
12. Kevin Proctor
13. Jason Taumalolo


14. Thomas Leuluai
15. Greg Eastwood
16. Martin Taupau
17. Tohu Harris
18. Lewis Brown

England will head into the crucial clash with the same 17 that suffered a heartbreaking defeat to Australia in Melbourne, with centre Dan Sarginson, a late replacement last week, retained at centre ahead of Michael Shenton, and captain and lock Sean O’Loughlin named to back up despite playing only 47 minutes against the Kangaroos. Backrower Liam Farrell escaped censure for his alleged chicken-wing tackle on Greg Inglis.


England line-up


1. Sam Tomkins
2. Josh Charnley
3. Kallum Watkins
4. Dan Sarginson
5. Ryan Hall
6. Gareth Widdop
7. Matty Smith
8. George Burgess
9. Josh Hodgson
10. James Graham
11. Liam Farrell
12. Joel Tomkins
13. Sean O’Loughlin (captain)

14. Daryl Clark
15. Brett Ferres
16. Tom Burgess
17. Chris Hill




There were plenty of positive signs for England in their loss to the Kangaroos, despite letting the match slip and being kept scoreless after halftime. But winning sudden-death matches – particularly abroad – has not been the Poms’ forte during the modern era. Also working against England is the fact New Zealand’s place in the final is not yet assured after their lucky win over Samoa; the Kiwis will be switched on. Last time these rivals met, the World Cup semi-final at Wembley, they produced one of the all-time great Test matches, with the Kiwis getting home via a brilliant last-gasp try to Shaun Johnson. England needs to limit New Zealand’s offloads and match the hosts’ go-forward – because in Gareth Widdop, Sam Tomkins, Kallum Watkins and Ryan Hall, the tourists have more than enough firepower to match the Kiwis. The blue-chip playmaking triumvirate of Johnson, Kieran Foran and Isaac Luke is the key to New Zealand sealing its place in the final.

Prediction: Kiwis by 4


AUSTRALIA v SAMOA, 4:00pm, Sunday November 9, WIN Stadium, Wollongong


An injury to Beau Scott has forced a forward pack reshuffle, with Sam Thaiday reverting to his customary second-row position and Josh Papalii moving from the bench into the starting front-row. The backline is unchanged, including another opportunity for 18-year-old winger Sione Mata’utia after his strong, but challenging, debut opposite Ryan Hall. Tim Sheens has again named a seven-man bench, and after Ben Hunt, David Klemmer and Papalii – wearing No. 18, 19 and 20 respectively – all made the eventual line-up to play England, it is anyone’s guess as to what the make-up of the bench will be. Matt Moylan is unlikely to get an interchange spot, though, and Hunt’s tryscoring debut was surely enough to edge out Robbie Farah for the utility role again. Klemmer’s size will be vital against Toa Samoa, so he is likely to get the nod, leaving Ryan Hoffman and Aidan Guerra to battle it out for the spot vacated by Papalii’s elevation to the starting side.

Kangaroos line-up


1. Greg Inglis
2. Josh Mansour
3. Michael Jennings
4. Dylan Walker
5. Sione Mata’utia
6. Daly Cherry-Evans
7. Cooper Cronk
8. Aaron Woods
9. Cameron Smith (c)
10. Josh Papalii
11. Sam Thaiday
12. Greg Bird
13. Corey Parker


14. Boyd Cordner
15. Robbie Farah
16. Aidan Guerra
17. Ryan Hoffman
18. Ben Hunt
19. David Klemmer
20. Matt Moylan


Antonio Winterstein has been named to return on the right wing for Tautau Moga in the only backline change, although the Cowboys powerhouse has been included on an extended bench. Pita Godinet is slated to start at hooker, but he could be switched with interchange forward Sauaso Sue, as was the case last week in a late change. Dominique Peyroux has dropped off the bench and troubled veteran Reni Maitua has been named to make his first appearance of the tournament; Maitua, Dunamis Lui and Jesse Sene-Lefao are in contention for two interchange spots alongside Sue/Godinet and Mose Masoe. Inspirational backrower Frank Pritchard had his knee in ice after the narrow loss to the Kiwis, but should be fit to take on the Kangaroos.


Toa Samoa line-up


1. Tim Simona
2. Antonio Winterstein
3. Tim Lafai
4. Joseph Leilua
5. Daniel Vidot
6. Ben Roberts
7. Kyle Stanley
8. Isaac Liu
9. Pita Godinet
10. David Fa’alogo (c)
11. Frank Pritchard
12. Leeson Ah Mau
13. Josh McGuire


14. Dunamis Lui
15. Reni Maitua
16. Sauaso Sue
17. Mose Masoe
18. Jesse Sene-Lefao
19. Tautau Moga




The Kangaroos need to win and, most likely, win big to reach the Four Nations final. From a for-and-against perspective – provided England loses to New Zealand – Samoa is actually better positioned to claim a berth in the decider. And a boilover is not out of the question given what we’ve seen from the exciting and gutsy Toa Samoa side so far. Maligned half Ben Roberts had one of the best games of his career in the gallant loss to the Kiwis, while Joey Leilua was devastating out wide. Matching the islanders’ big, dynamic pack will be Australia’s foremost concern and biggest challenge. If Smith, Inglis, Cronk and Cherry-Evans fire again, the hosts should cruise to a comfortable win, but their precarious points differential scenario could lead to panic and rash play, while Toa Samoa have proved very difficult get over the top of if they start strongly. With everything riding on it, this shapes as a fascinating contest.

Prediction: Kangaroos by 12


Four Nations final scenarios


In case you missed it in Monday’s Four Nations Lowdown, here’s how all four teams can still qualify for next Saturday’s final in Wellington. Aussie fans, get your calculators out after the Kiwis-England game to see what the Kangaroos need to do against Samoa in order to progress.



  • Win against England and they’re in, as the only unbeaten team in the tournament.
  • If they lose to England, the Kiwis will still qualify for the final if Samoa beats Australia, OR if they go down to England by less than 10 points, OR if there is less than a 34-point for-and-against swing between theirs and the Kangaroos’ differentials.



  • Lose to Samoa and they’re out.
  • If the Kangaroos beat Samoa and New Zealand beats England, they will face the Kiwis in the final.
  • Australia could win and still miss the final if England beats New Zealand; the Kangaroos are currently 34 points worse off than New Zealand in the for-and-against department, and 16 points worse off than England.



  • Beat the Kiwis by 10 points or more and England is guaranteed a place in the final.
  • If England beats New Zealand by less than 10, they can still make the final if Samoa beats Australia, OR if the Kangaroos win but are unable to overtake England’s for-and-against differential (England is currently 16 points better off than Australia).
  • If England loses to the Kiwis and Australia beats Samoa, England is out.
  • If England loses to the Kiwis and Samoa beats Australia, it will come down to for-and-against (England is currently 10 points better off than Samoa).



  • Samoa needs to beat Australia and for New Zealand to beat England to reach the final against the Kiwis – their only possible opponent if they qualify for the decider; the tournament underdogs would also need to overturn their 10-point for-and-against discrepancy in relation to England.


Pretty straightforward, huh?

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About the author

Will Evans

CBS’s Editor-in-Chief and lead rugby league, union and cricket writer, Will is a Christchurch-based freelancer, also writing for Big League and Rugby League Review magazines, and The New Daily website. Will has written four rugby league books.

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