venue: Olympic Stadium, Tripoli
24th October 2009
Full Match Report
Representative youth rugby league made its bow in the Middle East on Saturday night, with the Lebanon U16s hosting the Saudi Schools Select side in the curtain raiser match to Lebanon's European Cup match against Italy.
Lebanon's boys proved the stronger, with captain Joe Zeidan the star turn, voted man of the match by KSA coaches Chris Ratcliffe and Dave Martin. His try, Lebanon's fifth and final one in the 68th minute, evoked memories of a young Bradford Northern centre Ellery Hanley's famous score against Featherstone, as Zeidan took the ball inside his own half and tore down the right sideline, beating three players before touching down to round off a tidy display.
Coach Faysal Jaber was very satisfied with his sides unspectacular but solid performance, which was built on strong defence, tight play around the ruck and a high completion percentage.
"It went as well as could be expected. I was really happy with the boys. Their defence was something else and all of them played very well."
Replacement forward Mourtaz Mrad openend the scoring in the 21st minute after both packs had spent the opening 20-minutes softening one another up. Nine minutes later his Balamand High school-mate Sami Assaf, who, along with another Balamand forward, prop George Bejjani, set a firm platform all night, trundled over from the ruck. Andrew Gergess's goal made it 10-0 at the break.
The Saudis, who had competed well but were consistently pushed backwards by Lebanon's efficient ruck play, got the second hald off to the worst possible start when they allowed another of Lebanon's big substitute forwards, Alex Latoufe, to bash his way over on 37 minutes. Although the Saudis never gave up, and came close to scoring on numerous occasions, the game was now firmly in the Junior Cedars' grasp. In the 43rd minute stand off Remy Dekkache took advantage of some dispirited Saudi defenders to race over, with Zeidan putting the icing on the cake.
Fullback Adriaan Potgeiter was the Saudis' best on the night, while the final score of 24-0 did not reflect the spirit and balance in both territory and possession of the match.
Andreas Zachariou, Radwan El Chab, Ibrahim Omran, Julien Duraini, Houssam Kalouch, Remy Dekkache, Jason Gergess, Sami Assaf, Jad Obeid, George Bejjani, Hilal Kardooni, Mohamed Rifai, Joe Zeidan.Subs: Alex Latouf, Mohamed Dennaoui, Mourtaz Mrad,. Andrew Gergess, Wael Takchi