2017 Rugby League World Cup - Tonga vs Lebanon Match Preview

The Lowdown


  • Tonga produced a wonderful second half display to send records tumbling as they defeated New Zealand last weekend and top Group B. The Tongans became the first ever second tier side to beat one of the big three of Australia, New Zealand and England.
  • Having been 16-2 down at half-time, Tonga were rampant after the break and won their first ever World Cup game having faced a half-time deficit. It was also the first time New Zealand had lost a World Cup game having been in front at the break.
  • Kristian Woolf makes two changes to his side with Tonga's leading try scorer of the tournament so far Michael Jennings returning after missing out with a slight knock last week. He replaces Mahe Fonua with Sam Moa taking the place of Peni Terepo.

Head Coach: Kristian Woolf

Team: Hopoate; Tupou, Jennings, Hurrell, Fusitu'a; Lolohea, Hingano; Fifita, Katoa, Taukeiaho, Ma'u, Manu, Taumalolo

Bench: Havili, Moa, Pangai Junior, Murdoch-Masila


  • Lebanon put in a spirited display but ultimately fell short against a much better side as they went down 34-0 to Australia. The Cedars were only 10-0 down after 50 minutes but couldn't stay in the contest after that point.
  • Despite that defeat, the Cedars qualified for the quarter-finals thanks to their win over France in their opening game seeing them qualify in third place. It's a great achievement for Lebanon who came into the tournament without ever having won a single World Cup game.
  • Head Coach Brad Fittler is short on numbers and only has 20 players left to choose from. Danny Barakat and Chris Saab drop out from the Australia game with Elias Sukkar and Travis Robinson taking their places.

Head Coach: Brad Fittler

Team: Layoun; Robinson, Elias, Doueihi, Miski; Moses, Farah; Mannah, Lichaa, Twal, Kassis, Ellaz, Clark

Bench: Mamary, Moujalli, Sukkar, Wehbe

Analysis - what to expect
Tonga have become the most talked about side in Rugby League after their amazing come-from-behind win against New Zealand last weekend. Whilst their squad is talented and has many admirers, overcoming the Kiwis represented a huge result and laid the platform for Tonga to potentially cause even more upsets as the tournament progresses. Standing in their way of further progression is Lebanon who have had a brilliant tournament too. They won their first ever World Cup game and competed well against Australia and England in their other two games. However, this should be a game too far for the Cedars and Tonga's powerful side will book a semi-final place for the first time in their history.