STANDING STRONG: Sam Kasiano offloads the ball in the tackle during the Test match between Samoa and Tonga at Cbus Super Stadium last year.
STANDING STRONG: Sam Kasiano offloads the ball in the tackle during the Test match between Samoa and Tonga at Cbus Super Stadium last year. Matt Roberts

Islanders to renew hostilities in Test match

THE world's top two-ranked nations, New Zealand and Australia, have top billing this weekend but the eagerly- awaited Pacific Island showdown between fierce rivals Samoa and Tonga could produce the fireworks.

Test matches between these two are played with State of Origin intensity, with the same brutality and passion, making their clashes special.

They have met 18 times, Samoa winning 10 of them.

Samoa is fourth on the Rugby League International Federation (RLIF) official world rankings with Tonga 14th of 35 top countries.

But there won't be that much of a gap when they take the field at Parramatta's Pirtek Stadium tonight after PNG and Fiji play their international.

The double-header will provide some entertaining rugby league with Samoa boasting a huge forward pack led by monster prop Sam Kasiano, Junior Paulo and Frank Pritchard.

In the corresponding clash last year, Kasiano and Pritchard combined for a memorable try-saving cover tackle on big Tongan winger George Taufua who was on his way to hero status as he powered toward the try line.

Samoa hung on to win 18-16 after Tonga had scored two quick tries to hit the lead 14-10 with 30 minutes to play.

Samoa has some match-winners in its backline with centre Kirisome Aauva'a (South Sydney) and North Queensland's Antonio Winterstein having won grand finals in recent years.

Tonga will rely heavily on makeshift No.6 Fileti Mateo and bustling Warriors centre Solomone Kata to bust Samoa open with their off-loading and power game.

Not a noted halfback, Mateo's balls skills are not in question and he is a player Samoa will have to do a job on to repeat last year's result.


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