Lebanon are on the cusp of a fascinating Rugby League World Cup quarter-final with Australia after defeating Ireland 32-14 in the battle of the two nations vying for second spot in Group C. Michael Cheika’s side were worthy winners against the Wolfhounds in Leigh, with the National Rugby League superstar Mitchell Moses their standout player.
The result means that should Lebanon beat the debutants Jamaica as expected next weekend Cheika will face the nation he has coached on almost 70 occasions in rugby union, but this time in rugby league. That quarter-final will take place on Friday 4 November in Huddersfield; two days later Cheika will lead Argentina’s rugby union side against England at Twickenham.
It looks set to be a busy weekend for the 55-year-old, with only victory against a debuting Jamaica side that have been well beaten in their first two group games now standing between Lebanon and a place in the knockout stages. Ireland, in contrast, were disappointing and they now have to beat New Zealand in their final group game to stand any chance of qualifying.
The opening exchanges were hard-fought, but by half-time Lebanon had established a comfortable 20-4 lead. Moses was outstanding, having a hand in the tries for Reece Robinson, Jacob Kiraz and Brandon Morkos which put the Cedars in control. Ireland’s sole try of the first half came from Louis Senior.
Senior’s second after the break briefly gave Ireland hope, but indiscipline was their undoing throughout the afternoon. Ged Corcoran’s side, who some fancied to cause an upset, had two players sent to the sin-bin and that helped Lebanon to maintain control of proceedings for the majority of the game.
Further tries for Elie El-Zakhem and Wigan’s Abbas Miski put the game beyond Ireland, before Ed Chamberlain’s late consolation. In the other game on Sunday, Samoa set up a winner-takes-all game against France next weekend with a 72-4 victory against the debutants Greece.
The win 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 qualifies with England.
Matt Parish’s side scored 13 tries against Greece with Danny Levi, Tim Lafai and Chanel Harris-Tavita each scoring twice. Greece face England, who have qualified for the last eight, next Saturday in Sheffield in their final group game, with their sole try here coming through Lachlan Ilias.