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Pacific Cup final preview: Australia and New Zealand ready for Hamilton showdown

The round-robin stage of the Pacific Cup has been completed and it’s Australia and New Zealand who will contest the final in Waikato on Saturday.

With all due respect to Samoa in the three-team Pacific Cup, Australia and New Zealand fans might well have booked their tickets for FMG Stadium when the date for the final was originally announced.

While there has not been any surprise regarding the two finalists, an intriguing final awaits to see if home advantage will give the Kiwis any chance of causing an upset against the Kangaroos this weekend.

WhatAustralia v New Zealand
WhereFMG Stadium Waikato, Hamilton
When14:00 (AEST) Saturday 4th November 2023 
How to watchChannel 9
OddsAustralia 1.25, New Zealand 4.00

Kangaroos cruised in dress rehearsal

There’s little wonder Australia are the firm favourites at 1.25 to win in the 80 minutes on Saturday, having eased to a 36-18 victory in the round-robin clash at AAMI Park in Melbourne.

It was a fairly even contest in the first half, with the Kangaroos going to the sheds 18-12 up.

However, the hosts' quality shone in the second-half and in the end, Australia ran in six tries to secure an impressive win and put a marker down ahead of the final.

In team news, props Jake Trbojevic and Tom Flegler make way for the returning Payne Haas and Tino Fa'asuamaleaui.

Meanwhile, Liam Martin is also back in the starting lineup, with Reuben Cotter dopping to the bench and Nicho Hynes going to 18th man.

There were some concerns regarding the fitness of Brisbane Broncos star Pat Carrigan after he missed training on Wednesday but head coach Mal Meninga has confirmed he will start on Saturday.

Kiwis eyeing upset

Having been dispatched in the second half in Melbourne, New Zealand will know they will need to put close to an 80-minute performance if they are to take down Australia in Hamilton. Something they are 4.00 to achieve.

Despite the defeat at AAMI Park, New Zealand head coach Michael Maguire is sticking with the same squad for the weekend.

That means Joey Manu keeps his place in the centres, while Charnze Nicholl-Klokstad retains his spot at full-back.

Sydney Roosters starlet Naufahu Whyte has to settle for the 18th-man spot once again.

It will be interesting to see how much home advantage can play a role when these sides meet in Hamilton.

The last time these sides played each other in New Zealand, it was the Kiwis who ran out 26-24 winners in October 2018.

Since then, Australia have won their following three encounters with New Zealand, with victories in Wollongong, Leeds (England) and Melbourne.

New Zealand are available at 1.91 to come out on top with a +12.5 handicap. 

It was November 2010 the last time Australia beat New Zealand in their own patch by over that 12.5-point margin.

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