Lebanon duly qualified their first World Cup since 2000 with a comprehensive second leg win over
South Africa at the Bosman Stadium, Brakpan, Pretoria.
As in the first leg, Cedars winger Travis Robinson was the destroyer in chief with a second
successive hat trick against the Rhinos, second rower Elias Sukker again the man of the match
after another storming display, which saw Lebanon triumph 90-28 on aggregate.
Lebanon captain Chris Saab commented: “This is the best day of my life. We have been waiting for
this moment for a very long time and I hope every Lebanese person – as well as past and present
players – have something to smile about.”
James Boustani, who kicked seven goals from 10 attempts added: “It’s an amazing feeling; to see
what Lebanon has gone through in the last few years, to achieve this for the country is fantastic. I
am proud to have played and won for my brothers, my family and my country.”
The players were joined in celebration by Lebanon Rugby League president Mohamad Habbous
who said: “It still hasn’t sunk in yet, but we finally did it. This team, from the staff to the players, has
been outstanding and worked so hard to achieve this World Cup qualification. I also want to thank
the South African RL for being such incredible hosts and we look forward to further collaboration
Full back Daniel Abou-Sleiman opened the scoring in only the second minute, Robinson following
up with two quick tries as the visitors grasped an unassailable hold on the game.
They led 28-6 at the break, their speed and organization at the play the ball constantly exploiting
the South African defence along with Sukkar’s running.
Mark Daoud scored on the left after the ball was spread and, following Marcell Viljoen’s sin binning
on the half hour for a grapple tackle, Sukkar claimed a deserved try.
South Africa gained some reward for their effort with try by winger Gideon Mzembe just before half
time, Bradley Williams goaling.
The home response was short-lived when, four minutes in to the second period, Robinson claimed
his sixth try in a week, Rupert Wells replying but the Cedars confirmed the spoils with two tries in
three minutes on the hour from Tarek El Masri and the elusive Boustani, who finished with 18
Nick Kassis brought up the half century for the visitors with their ninth try, Viljoen having the final
say when he crossed for the ultimately out-gunned hosts.
“The boys played to the game plan, a bit of it worked, but some of it we slipped up on,” Viljoen
said. “We were out on a mission but some of us were over eager, we went in too hard; they caught
us out. We are working on rugby league here, it’s a sport that’s growing in RSA. The boys are keen
to play. Beating BARLA was a step up for us but this wasn’t a game we were used to but we feel
we are putting the sport on the map here.”