The final week of the pool matches had competition favourites Australia face an underrated Lebanon at Allianz Stadium. The Lebanon Cedars were beaten by an error-filled Kangaroos team 34-0.
AUSTRALIA’S SCRAPPY WIN
Australia were able to finish their last pool match against Lebanon with a less than convincing win. The lack of cohesion would be a worrying sign for coach Mal Meninga, with Australia now having to potentially play New Zealand sooner. The Kangaroos will want to improve their handling and decision-making, with many opportunities going astray.
LEBANON’S STRENGTHS AND WEAKNESSES
Lebanon will take many positives out of the match, with strong pressure off the ball in defence while also holding the Australians to 10-0 for the first 50 minutes. The Cedars – with a majority of part-time players – will look to improve on their weak decision-making and discipline around the middle of the park, conceding 12 penalties due to holding in tackles or sloppy defence.
CONCERNING ERRORS AND PENALTIES
This match was filled with many concerning moments for both sides, with a total of 21 penalties and 22 errors. The Kangaroos and Cedars will be somewhat disappointed with their effort and will look to quickly fix those issues in time for the quarter-finals if they want to progress further.
LAST CHANCE TO EXPERIMENT
The Kangaroos used their opportunity to do some last minute experiments with combinations leading into the finals. The backline was reshaped with both Cameron Munster and Tom Trbojevic shifting to the centres, which worked well with a combined three tries (and a double to Munster). James Maloney – playing his first game in the halves – had an error-filled night early on but finished strongly with a try and two try assists. Ben Hunt played the entire second half – with Cameron Smith rested – and showed strong kicking out of marker while also tackling soundly.
STEPPING INTO FINALS
Both sides made the quarter finals with the Australians playing Samoa in Darwin and Lebanon playing the Tongans in New Zealand. The Australians – untested with the humid conditions of the tournament yet – will have a somewhat difficult task against Samoa up north, while Lebanon now play the Tongan side that upset the Kiwis in New Zealand, which will be huge effort if they are to win.
Australian Kangaroos 34 Tries: Munster (2), Maloney, Cordner, Gagai, Trbojevic Goals: Smith 1/2, Maloney 4/4