venue: Bankstown Crest Stadium, Sydney
7th October 2012
Full Match Report
Cooks Islands, playing their first Test in three-years, outscored Lebanon by six-tries-to-four in the first clash between the two sides since the 2000 Rugby League World Cup. The Cedars almost won a match in which they were decidedly second best, when Cliff Nye raced 60-metres and offloaded to the supporting Ali Hijazi, who couldn’t hang on just inches from the goal-line. The islanders were in control for most of the match, and after Andrew Kazzi cancelled out Neccrom Areatit’s 8th minute opener in the 18th minute, the world cup-bound Coos Islands scored the next five tries before taking their foot off the gas.
Lebanon mounted a plucky late comeback, scoring three tries in the final 10 minutes to make the margin of defeat more respectable, and leaving Cook Islands Rugby League Commissioner Kevin Iro a frustrated figure: "(It is) pretty disappointing because obviously we had probably eight or nine players who had NRL experience so we went into the match as favourites. It was a really tight first half - I mean the Lebanese team really brought it to the boys, but as the second half wore on the experience of the Cook Islands boys took over and they looked like they were going to do it comfortably at 28-6 and for some reason the last ten minutes they slackened off and the Lebanese boys came back with three really quick tries and conversions and they were unlucky not to score a fourth right on the death.”
For the Lebanese, the significance of the match was clear, as described by LRLF official Remond Safi, who had witnessed the Espoirs lose 34-10 to Cook Islands Under-20s in the curtain raiser: ”Despite losing both games it was a successful day for the LRLF as the future foundations have been embedded in Sydney with a pathway for our 2017 world cup campaign. For the first time in Lebanon rugby league’s history the LRLF has full administrative control over our Sydney operations, and this match has resulted in a profit for the federation.
“The amount of good will that has been generated among Sydney’s Lebanese community has been significant, and the commercial benefits to the sport in Lebanon cannot be understated. It’s very difficult generating revenue in Lebanon - especially now when the political situation is dreadful - and the willingness expatriate Lebanese have shown in supporting this project means for the first time the LRLF has a clear source of potential income.”
Pictured: Ray Moujali looks to offload.
Daniel Abou Sleiman, Eddy El Zbaidieh, Adham El Zbaidieh, Ali Hijazi, Cliff Nye, James Boustani, Anthony Farah, Ray Moujali, Chris Salem, Elias Sukkar, Danny Barakat, Nick Kassis, Casey Ellis, Andrew Kazzi, Jared Azar, Joe Costantani, Charlie Farah
Drury Low, Luilia Luila, Geoff Daniela, Anthony gelling, Chris Taripo, Aaron Nootai, Isaac John, Neccrom Areaiti, Sam Brunton, Tyrone Viiga, Dominique Peyroux, Zeb Taia, Tinirau Arona, Joey Matapuku, Adam Tangata, Jeremiah Nia, Daniel Fepuleai.