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Rugby League World Cup: Semi-finals preview

The Rugby League World Cup has now reached the semi-final stage and Australia, New Zealand, England and Samoa are all within touching distance of a place in the final at Old Trafford.

Pre-tournament favourites, Australia, overcame Lebanon with ease, while New Zealand had to dig deep against Fiji to progress from the quarter-finals.

They now go head-to-head, while England face Samoa after wins over Papua New Guinea and Tonga respectively in their last-eight matches.

New Zealand hoping to stun reigning champions

WhatAustralia v New Zealand
WhereElland Road, Leeds
When19:45, Friday 11th November 2022
How to watchBBC Two
OddsAustralia 1/5, New Zealand 7/2

Rivals Australia and New Zealand will compete for a place in this year's final in Yorkshire, as Leeds United's Elland Road hosts the best two teams in the world.

The Aussies are the defending champions and are widely expected to reach yet another final, with Mal Meninga's men seemingly growing in confidence each and every week.

It came as no surprise to see Australia win all three games in Pool B, with Fiji, Italy and Scotland unable to lay a finger on them in the end. Meninga's side scored 192 points and conceded only 14, while New Zealand also enjoyed a similar route to the quarter-finals.

Michael Maguire's men ran in 150 points as they battled past Lebanon, Ireland and Jamaica. While they could only beat Fiji 24-18, New Zealand still proved too good for their opponents, and now they have the chance to beat the best team in the world.

The Kiwis have only ever won the World Cup on one occasion, while Australia are eager to win their 12th title.

Meninga has recalled prop Reagan Campbell-Gillard to his squad and his experience will be crucial in the middle of the park. 

Hooker Ben Hunt also returns to the fold, while Daly Cherry-Evans is set to miss out due to the form of Cameron Munster and Nathan Cleary.

Australia's young squad have yet to hit their stride in the tournament, and the -12.5 handicap at 10/11 is worth considering.

New Zealand have plenty of quality within their squad, but last week's narrow win over Fiji suggests they are not in good form and they are likely to succumb to their rivals once again.

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Wane's side know what it takes to beat Samoa

WhatEngland v Samoa
WhereEmirates Stadium, London
When14:30, Saturday 12th November 2022
How to watchBBC One
OddsEngland 1/3, Samoa 12/5

As the World Cup got closer to starting, Shaun Wane's England began to drift in the market.

Matt Parish's Samoa were considered the biggest threat to both Australia and New Zealand, but those suggestions soon vanished after the opening match of the tournament.

Wane's side ran riot at St James' Park, winning 60-6 to set the tone for the tournament.

England's squad have continued to push each other all the way, but they will be well aware of the threat that Samoa poses.

Parish's side dug deep to beat rivals Tonga 20-18 on Sunday, and with nearly a week's rest behind them, there should be no issues regarding fatigue.

They will also be boosted by the news that captain Junior Paulo can play after successfully appealing against a one-match ban.

The Parramatta Eels forward made contact with David Fifita's face on Sunday and was handed a one-game ban, but an independent judiciary tribunal overturned his ban at a hearing on Tuesday night.

While Samoa have improved in every game so far in the tournament, they are now in unchartered waters.

Toa Samoa have qualified for the semi-finals of a World Cup for the first time ever, and the occasion may just get to them, as they will need to be consistent for the full 80 minutes against Wane's troops.

England were able to take their foot off the gas during their victory over Papua New Guinea, and the 8.5 handicap at 10/11 appeals, especially with England winning by 60 points just a few weeks ago.

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