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#RLWC2017 MATCH PREVIEW | Australia vs Lebanon

Lebanon take on tournament hosts Australia in a historic clash at the Sydney Football Stadium as Australia look to seal top spot in Pool A. A Lebanese upset would ensure their qualification for the knock out stages with England and France meeting a day later. 

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Australia come into this unbeaten in their last eight Rugby League World Cup matches and have conceded no more than six points in their last Rugby League World Cup games. Similarly, Lebanon have lost just one of their last 5 internationals and NRL prop, Alex Twal, has made the most tackles in the competition after two rounds. This will be the first ever meeting between the two sides.

Head coach Mal Meninga employed squad rotation once more with the knockout stages in sight. Billy Slater, Will Chambers, Josh Dugan, Michael Morgan, Tyson Frizell, and Josh McGuire all get a rest for this one and Cooper Cronk, James Maloney, Boyd Cordner, Matt Gillett and Ben Hunt all come into the 17-man squad. Lebanon, on the other hand, have Chris Saab available for the first time after his bizarre pre-match warm up knock out. James Elias, Antony Layoun and Andrew Kazzi all join Saab coming into the match day squad.

Australia come into this in the driving seat in Pool A and look to have as strong a side as ever, coming off the back of a 52-6 drubbing of France. By contrast, Lebanon need a win to ensure qualification for the knockout stages and come into this off the back of a creditable 29-10 loss against England. Lebanon head coach, Brad Fittler, brings in Michael Lichaa to start at hooker to complete an all NRL front row alongside Tim Mannah and Alex Twal.

Undoubtedly, this one is a massive mismatch when considering the form and stature of the two sides. The Cedars, however, shocked many in the first round with a win over France and their spine has looked dangerous throughout both games. After two stellar performances against France and England, it looks as though Michael Lichaa, Mitchell Moses and Robbie Farah will need to go one step further in order to take a Kangaroo scalp this weekend. On the other hand, its important for the Kangaroos to stay switched on throughout and keep any momentum they have going through the last round and into the knockout stages. Anything less than a thrashing by Australia will without doubt put a dampener on proceedings going into finals football in front of a home crowd.

PREDICTION

Mitchell Moses turned a decent amount of the opposition over in the NRL and will look to do the same in this one. Unfortunately for Moses, Lebanon lack the pack for him to play off the back of comfortably against a Tier 1 side like Australia. Although the Cedars performed credibly against England, it has to be said the home countries rugby league, and Super League, is getting a wake up call in this World Cup, so getting within 19 points of England may not be as good of a performance as it seems. Australia are whole new beast; they struggled to be clinical against England and still came away 18-4 victors. They will no doubt have come on from that performance and, after a thrashing of France, they are well poised to impose a wide-margin victory. Australia by 36+.

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SQUADS

Venue: Sydney Football Stadium, Sydney, 8pm (AEDT)

Australia squad: 1.Valentine Holmes 2. Dane Gagai 3. Tom Trbojevic 4. Cameron Munster 5. Josh Mansour 6. James Maloney 7. Cooper Cronk 8. Aaron Woods 9. Cameron Smith (c) 10. David Klemmer 11. Boyd Cordner 12. Matt Gillett 13. Felise Kaufusi 14. Ben Hunt 15. Jordan McLean 16. Reagan Campbell-Gillard 17. Wade Graham 18. Josh McGuire 19. Michael Morgan 20. Josh Dugan 21. Billy Slater

Lebanon squad: 1. Anthony Layoun 2. Travis Robinson 3. James Elias 4. Adam Doueihi 5. Abbas Miski 6. Mitchell Moses 7. Robbie Farah 8. Tim Mannah 9. Michael Lichaa 10. Alex Twal 11. Chris Saab 12. Ahmad Ellaz 13. Nick Kassis 14. Mitchell Mamary 15. Ray Moujalli 16. Jamie Clark 17. Andrew Kazzi 18. Jason Wehbe 19. Danny Barakat 20. Elias Sukkar 21. Daniel Abou-Sleiman

Match officials: Referee: James Child. Touch judges: Chris Sutton and Belinda Sleeman. Video referee: Bernard Sutton.

Televised: Channel Seven – Live Coverage from 7:30pm.

 

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