Australia coast home against valiant Lebanon
The Kangaroos have done enough to down a valiant Lebanon team 34-0 at the Sydney Football Stadium on Saturday night, with the World Cup minnows giving an excellent account of themselves.
Brad Fittler's men conceded just two tries in the opening half and four tries in 77 minutes before two quick tries at the death from the mostly scrappy Kangaroos blew the score out.
Lebanon's impressive defensive effort came despite a worrying injury toll; sadly veteran Chris Saab's belated World Cup debut lasted just 20 minutes courtesy of his second Head Injury Assessment of the tournament.
Michael Lichaa (ankle) was forced off in the second half and Eels playmaker Mitchell Moses (shoulder) came off towards the end of the match after a series of forceful, late challenges from Kangaroos forwards left him clutching a shoulder.
Mal Meninga has a nervous wait of his own with David Klemmer's accidental shoulder on Saab and Aaron Woods' second half lifting tackle (which was placed on report) likely to come under scrutiny.
The opening 40 minutes saw the Kangaroos produce a series of errors both coming out of their own end and on the attack; they completed at just 67 per cent with eight errors in the first half.
That came after Lebanon put the opening kick-off of the game out on the full, with former Lebanon international Josh Mansour deftly placing his foot into touch as he received the kick.
Mansour in particular drew the ire of a vocal crowd that heavily favoured the Cedars and passionately cheered every defensive victory and attacking half-chance for the rugby league minnows.
They got a couple of defensive victories early on as the Cedars withstood an early forced drop out but Cam Munster's opening try in the ninth minute was worryingly simple as the makeshift centre split the Cedars' right side defence.
Lebanon stuck to their work impressively and the only further score of the opening 40 came from a wonderful Reagan Campbell-Gillard offload to James Maloney in the 25th minute.
In between, sadly, Lebanon veteran Saab's belated World Cup debut ended after just 20 minutes courtesy of another HIA following accidental contact with Klemmer. Saab's teammates will hope he passes the concussion protocols in time for the Cedars' quarter-final against Tonga next week.
A quick double-strike midway through the second half via Munster's second try and a Boyd Cordner four-pointer off a Maloney grubber kick quickly stretched the lead to 22-0 in the 55th minute but it didn't deter a valiant Lebanon side who continued to create chances but lacked the polish to turn them into points.
Two tries in the final three minutes to Dane Gagai and Tom Trbojevic blew the score out to 34-0, a scoreline which flattered the Kangaroos, but Brad Fittler's squad boasting plenty of part-timers can still be immensely proud of keeping things tight against the reigning world champions for so long.
Australia 34 (Munster 2, Maloney, Cordner, Gagai, Trbojevic tries; Maloney 4, Smith goals) defeated Lebanon 0 at Sydney Football Stadium. Half time: Australia 10-0. Crowd: 21,127.
This article first appeared on NRL.com