Lebanon are on the cusp of a thrilling Rugby League World Cup quarter-final with Australia after beating Ireland 32-14 in the two nations battle for second place in the group C. Michael Cheika’s side were worthy winners against the Wolfhounds in Leigh, with National Rugby League superstar Mitchell Moses their standout player.
The result means that if Lebanon beat debutants Jamaica as expected next weekend, Cheika will face the nation he has coached nearly 70 times in rugby union, but this time in the rugby league. This quarter-final will take place on Friday 4 November in Huddersfield; two days later, Cheika will lead the Argentine rugby union team against England at Twickenham.
It’s shaping up to be a busy weekend for the 55-year-old, with just one victory against a debutant Jamaican side who were well beaten in their first two group games between Lebanon and a place in the round of 16. Ireland, on the other hand, were disappointing and now need to beat New Zealand in their last group game to have any chance of progressing.
The opening rallies were hard fought, but by half-time Lebanon had established a comfortable 20-4 lead. Moses was exceptional, having participated in the tries of Reece Robinson, Jacob Kiraz and Brandon Morkos, which allowed the Cedars to take control. The only Irish try of the first half came from Louis Senior.
The seniors’ second place finish after the break briefly gave Ireland hope, but indiscipline was their undoing throughout the afternoon. Ged Corcoran’s side, which some thought would cause an upset, had two players sent to sin-bin and that helped Lebanon retain control of proceedings for most of the game.
Further tries for Elie El-Zakhem and Abbas Miski of Wigan put the game beyond Ireland, before Ed Chamberlain’s late consolation. In Sunday’s other game, Samoa staged a win-win against France next weekend with a 72-4 win over debutants Greece.
The victory keeps Samoa, beaten 60-6 by England last week, firmly in contention to reach the quarter-finals, with the winners of their game against France next Sunday deciding who will qualify with England.
Matt Parish’s side scored 13 tries against Greece with Danny Levi, Tim Lafai and Chanel Harris-Tavita each scoring twice. Greece will face England, who have reached the quarter-finals, next Saturday in Sheffield in their last group game, with their only try here by Lachlan Ilias.
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