The Rugby League World cup is underway, and some small teams have come up with big surprises, whilst a few big-name sides have shown worrying signs. Round 3 of the competition will feature the red-hot Italians up against Fiji.
Italy shocked the world on Sunday morning by defeating Scotland, despite being heavy underdogs. The Italians came out of the gates firing and scored five unanswered tries, before the Scottish scored a consolation try in the dying minutes.
Italy features a couple of noticeable names, including captain Nathan Brown who looked like an instrumental leader on the field in their opening match. Jake Maizen was the player of the match against Scotland, scoring a hat-trick.
Maizen plays for the Sunshine Coast Falcons in the Queensland Cup and has taken his talents to the international level. Maizen is one of three Falcons members who is representing Italy, as Daniel Atkinson and Luke Polselli both also played a strong role in the historic win.
Italy have competed in just two World Cups and were on the brink of progressing past the group stage in both of those tournaments, however, were unable to do so.
This is their third consecutive World Cup and after watching their match against Scotland, there are not many reasons to believe why they can't move on to the quarter-final stage.
To make sure they're able to do so, they must beat Fiji, as there is likely no human on Earth who thinks anyone in group B can beat Australia. A second win would be enough for them to finish in second place in the group and make Italian rugby league history.
On the other hand, Fiji weren't horrible against the Aussies, although they didn't show enough to guarantee that they will win both of their final two group stage matches.
The Fijians put up a small fight; scoring the first try of the match and leaving their opponents scoreless for the opening fifteen minutes. That fifteen-minute period would be their only success, as Australia ended up scoring seven consecutive tries and winning the game 42-8, due to a Sunia Turuva consolation try for Fiji.
The Bati include numerous quality players throughout the team, including Maika Sivo, Viliame Kikau, Brandon Wakeham, Api Korisou, Semi Valemei and Kevin Naiqama who is captaining the side in a unsual position for the role. Naiqama is playing centre and his early career; seven-year stint in the NRL was highly underrated.
Kevin brings rare jazz and excitement into a side and fits perfectly into this Fijian team.
The Fijians will be very strong favourites on Saturday, and they will need to deliver more than a win, if they wish to make a statement and create some intimidation in this competition.
The Italians will be flying high entering this match-up, whilst Fiji will be wanting to bounce back.
This will not be a blowout and the winning margin will finish under twelve points. It will be a dog fight, but Fiji's side is just too strong for the Italians, which is why Fiji should win their first game of the tournament.
Don't be overly surprised if we witness an Italian upset though.