Lebanon's Kayne Kalache, right. is tackled by Ireland's Liam Byrne, left, during the Rugby League World Cup group A match between Ireland and Lebanon, at the Leigh Sports Village, Leigh, England, Sunday, Oct. 23, 2022. (Mike Egerton/PA via AP)
LEIGH, England — Lebanon was in pole position to reach the Rugby League World Cup quarterfinals again after beating Ireland 32-14 on Sunday.
Lebanon and Ireland have a win and a loss, but the Cedars finish Group C play next weekend as a heavy favorite to beat tournament debutant Jamaica, while Ireland must topple unbeaten New Zealand on Friday to have a chance.
Meanwhile, Samoa rebounded from a thrashing from England by thumping Greece, the other newcomer, by 72-4 and 13 tries in Doncaster.
Halfback Mitchell Moses inspired Lebanon to victory, kicking 10 points and teeing up two of their five tries.
Moses’ early penalty was followed by center Reece Robinson crossing in the corner. Moses then sent fullback Jacob Kiraz over and the Cedars grabbed a third try in 10 minutes when winger Josh Mansour picked out center Brandon Morkos.
Winger Louis Senior went over in the corner either side of halftime as the Wolfhounds reduced the deficit to 20-10 but Lebanon surged clear again as a wonderful one-handed reverse pass from Moses led to second row Elie El-Zakhem touching down.
Winger Abbas Miski effectively settled the contest with a try shortly before the hour mark, then Irish center Ed Chamberlain grabbed a consolation score.
Lebanon coach Michael Cheika, pulling double duty as the coach of rugby union’s Argentina, wasn’t getting too excited until the Cedars qualify for the quarters, as they did in 2017.
“I’m a bit of a dampener unfortunately — it’s not done until it’s done,” Cheika said.
In the race to qualify likely with England from Group A, Samoa leapfrogged France to second place. They meet in a quarterfinal decider on Sunday in Warrington. Greece finishes against England on Saturday.
Hooker Danny Levi, scrumhalf Chanel Harris-Tavita and center Tim Lafai each crossed twice for Samoa, with center Stephen Crichton also among the try-scorers and kicking 10 conversions.
Brian To’o’s first-minute opener launched Samoa to 42-0 at halftime, straight after which Greece scored its only try to Lachlan Ilias, who couldn’t convert.
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