Rugby League: WORLD CLUB CHAMPIONSHIP QUARTER-FINALS

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The Independent Online
Auckland v Bradford

(Kick-off 9am today, Ericsson Stadium)

No team has more to prove in the quarter-finals than Bradford, thrashed on their last visit to Auckland and also beaten in their last three domestic games. It is not the form of champions and the signing this week of Shaun Edwards has also cost them the services of the disillusioned Glen Tomlinson. On the positive side, the Bulls will have learnt a lot from their failures in this competition and they might also be meeting the Warriors at a good time. They have not played as a team for six weeks, but a number of them will have been celebrating after last weekend's Test win over Australia.

Wigan v Hunter Mariners

(7.30pm tonight, Central Park)

Wigan were hot favourites to progress to the semi-finals before the loss of two key players - Gary Connolly and Tony Smith - with injuries this week. Their replacements - Darryl Cardiss and Craig Murdock - are good young players, but there is now a big gap in the side that played so impressively at Old Trafford on Sunday. Hunter have shown their strength by leaving Noel Goldthorpe at home, but they have two ex-Wigan players in the Iro brothers. The elder of them, Tony, will start on the bench but will be an important tactical substitute.

Brisbane v St Helens

(10.30am tomorrow, ANZ Stadium).

Saints have the toughest task in world rugby league and it will be a major shock if they extend the Australian champions. Still without the suspended Bobbie Goulding, they have suffered another heavy blow with the loss of Keiron Cunningham. The versatile Paul Anderson fills in at hooker, but Danny Arnold and Apollo Perelini are both expected to be fit. Brisbane have an embarrassment of talent, but perhaps the biggest threat to Saints comes from their dashing full-back, Darren Lockyer, one of the few Australians to enhance his reputation against New Zealand.

London v Cronulla

(3pm, Sunday, The Stoop)

London are asking an awful lot of a 20-year-old debutant at scrum-half, and it is to be hoped that Giles Thomas is up to it. It is a good sign that his most experienced team-mates have great confidence in him. Tulsen Tollett is at stand-off in what could be his last game for the Broncos, with Butch Fatnowna at centre. Even without Paul Green and Tawera Nikau, Cronulla are packed with flair and pace. Provided they have recovered from a hectic couple of weeks, they deserve to start as favourites - but London showed against Canberra that they can beat any side that fails to fire.

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