It started with 16 teams and now we’re down to two as Australia and Samoa face off in the blockbuster men’s Rugby League World Cup final at Old Trafford, Manchester.
All eyes will be on the Kangaroos’ star-studded line-up, particularly halfback Nathan Cleary, who came under fire for not taking control in Australia’s two-point semi-final win over New Zealand.
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Aside from a scare from the Kiwis, Australia have cruised through the tournament, smashing Fiji, Scotland and Italy in the pool stage before comfortably beating Lebanon in the quarter-final.
The same can’t be said for Samoa, who have had to fight hard to overcome a dreadful start to their World Cup campaign.
Samoa were humiliated in a 60-6 thrashing at the hands of England in the very first game of the tournament.
‘Full respect!’ Mal won’t overlook Samoa | 01:58
Inspirational captain Junior Paulo revealed to Fox League earlier this week that a “tough conversation” following that loss set the tone for the rest of the tournament.
Samoa went on to beat Greece and France before meeting — and defeating — arch rivals Tonga in the quarter-final.
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Then along came the semi-final and a shot at redemption against England. It was neck-and-neck for most of the game, until Stephen Crichton slotted the matchwinning field goal in golden point to send Samoa to their very first World Cup final.
Between the battle of Panthers teammates Cleary and Jarome Luai as well as Eels teammates Paulo and Reagan Campbell-Gillard there’s plenty of storylines brewing in this final.
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