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– Australia and rivals New Zealand clash at Elland Road
– Kangaroos have won 100 of 135 meetings with Kiwis
– Recommended bet: Australia -12.5 handicap
With a place in the Rugby League World Cup final at stake, rivals Australia and New Zealand will go head to head in what is set to be a mouth-watering semi-final at Elland Road on Friday night.
Reigning champions Australia have cruised past all teams before them so far in the competition, while New Zealand have had to work slightly harder to set up this last-four showdown in Leeds.
The Kangaroos made light work of their 48-4 win over Lebanon in the quarter-finals, while the Kiwis battled to a 24-18 victory over Fiji.
Australia head coach Mal Meninga has some tough decisions to make when it comes to selection for this clash with their trans-Tasman rivals.
Daly Cherry-Evans could be a high-profile name to miss out in the half-backs with Nathan Cleary and Cameron Munster the preferred pairing and Ben Hunt tipped to play a role off the bench.
Meninga has also hinted he will look to have plenty of size on the bench in a bid to combat New Zealand’s strength in the forwards.
As for the Kiwis, they, like Australia, have managed to come through the tournament so far without any major injuries.
NRL stars Jared Waerea-Hargreaves and Joe Tapine are set to start from the off, with New Zealand hoping their forwards can gain the upper hand in the early stages of the contest.
This historic fixture has been played out 135 times since their first meeting on May 9, 1908. It was New Zealand who managed to win 11-10 that day at the Sydney Cricket Ground.
Australia have certainly dominated the more recent meetings between the two rivals, with the Kangaroos coming out on top in six of their last seven encounters.
The last time the two teams met was back in 2019, with Australia winning 26-4 at the WIN Stadium in Wollongong.
New Zealand had a day to remember in their last clash with the Aussies at Elland Road back in 2005, with the Kiwis running out 24-0 winners in Leeds that day in the Rugby League Tri-Nations final.
Both sides have enjoyed high-scoring 2021 World Cup campaigns to date, with Australia totalling 240 points from their first four outings, while New Zealand have scored 174 in that time.
Australia’s defence has been outstanding so far, with the Kangaroos conceding just 18 points across their four games.
Considering Australia’s strengths in both attack and defence, it is hard to look past the reigning world champions making the final to face either hosts England or Samoa at Old Trafford on November 19.
Conceding 46 points in the tournament so far, New Zealand have not been able to produce the same accuracy in defence compared to their rivals.
There looks to be value in backing the Kangaroos in the handicap market, with Australia at 17/20 to win with a -12.5 handicap via LiveScore Bet.
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