Vodafone Warriors NRL players Pita Godinet (pictured) and Suaia Matagi are joined by the clubs Vodafone NYC Player of the Year Michael Sio in a 19-man squad for Toa Samoas Rugby League World Cup quarter-final against Fiji Bati at Halliwell Jones Stadium in Warrington tomorrow (4.00am kick-off NZT). Photo: Photosport


And new Vodafone Warriors signing Jayson Bukuya is again in Fijis squad.


TOA SAMOA v FIJI BATI

Halliwell Jones Stadium, Warrington

Sunday 3.00pm (UK time)

Monday 4.00am (NZT)


The fourth quarter-final between Fiji Bati and Toa Samoa promises to be the most evenly-matched game of the weekend.


Although the Samoans enter as slight favourites, it's amazing that they've even got this far given the adversity that coach Matt Parish has had to endure over the group stages in regards to his roster.


Injuries to Frank Winterstein, Reni Maitua and captain Harrison Hansen have hampered the beginning of Samoa's World Cup campaign while ill-discipline in the final group match win over France has resulted in a one-game ban for forward Leeson Ah Mau.


Samoa did catch a break when they successfully appealed to overturn Sauaso Sue's one-game suspension and Mose Masoe was lucky to escape a ban overall.


As a result, veteran forward Tony Puletua answered an SOS call and got some much-needed game time against the French.


Fiji, similarly, has had to overcome plenty of hurdles to qualify for the final eight.


After beating Ireland 32-14 in their opening game, the Bati went try-less against the Aussies in a 2-34 loss before managing just two tries against host England when losing 12-34.


Not only will coach Rick Stone face a mammoth task of trying to lift his side after successive defeats to two heavyweights, but he will have to do it without prop Korbin Sims, who was found guilty of spear-tackling England prop James Graham in the final group game.


A semi-final with Australia awaits the winner of this clash.


Watch out Samoa: England and Australia kept Fijian fullback Kevin Naiqama quiet with masterful kicking displays over the past fortnight, but with halfback Ben Roberts shouldering most of Samoa's general play kicking, expect plenty of fifth-tackle pressure from the Fiji defence. Naiqama showed the type of danger he can be in their win over Ireland, breaking seven tackles and setting up a try and a line break.


Watch out Fiji: The message was bright and clear for Samoa against the French: all out aggression. It remains to be seen whether coach Matt Parish will employ a similar game plan against the more physical Fijians, but the Bati will have watched Samoa's last game against France and readied themselves for a similar onslaught. Halves Alipate Noilea and Aaron Groom in particular will be looking over their shoulders quite often.


Key Match-Up: The power of Kevin Naiqama versus the agility of Anthony Milford is the easy choice, but the battle between centres Tim Lafai and Joey Leilua up against Sisa Waqa and Was Naiqama could be match-defining.


The challenge to stop the in-form Leilua should be the first or second priority for the Fijians, given he has 26 tackle breaks in his three World Cup games.


Where It Will Be Won: The halves. Ben Roberts, Iosaia Soliola, Noilea and Groom hold the key to their side's chances of moving to the final four of the tournament.


Soliola was a late shuffle to five-eighth against France with Pita Godinet coming on after 20 minutes, so the responsibility falls largely on Roberts.


Noilea and Groom, on the other hand, will need to lift their games after struggling against Australia and England. Both teams have the men out wide, and the men in the middle, so it's just a matter of who can add the finishing touches to their sets.


Televised: SKY Sport 2 live from 3.45am Monday (NZT)


The Way We See It: The Samoans are the official favourites, and they have every right to be. They enjoy more experience in the halves and on the bench. The key, as mentioned earlier, will be in the halves where Ben Roberts is the centre of attention. Can he handle it? We think he can. Samoa by eight.


Squads:


TOA SAMOA: David Faalogo, Pita Godinet, Faleniu Iosi, Tim Lafai, Joseph Leilua, Penani Manumalealii, Mose Masoe, Suaia Matagi, Anthony Milford, Junior Moors, Tony Puletua, Ben Roberts, Junior Sau, Michael Sio, Iosia Soliola, Sauaso Sue, Mark Taufua, Daniel Vidot, Antonio Winterstein.


FIJI BATI: Peni Botiki, Jayson Bukuya, Petero Civoniceva (c), Kane Evans, Aaron Groom, Marika Koroibete, Apisai Koroisau, Daryl Millard, Ryan Millard, Kevin Naiqama, Waisale Ligani Naiqama, Vitale Junior Roqica, Ashton Sims, Tariq Sims, James Storer, Akuila Uate, Eloni Vunakece, Sisa Ledua Waqa, Semi Radradra Turagasoli Waqavatu.