Australia breeze past Lebanon to book semi-final spot

Embed from Getty Images
Australia Men v Lebanon Men

Huddersfield's John Smith's Stadium played host to a comfortable win for the tournament favourites this Saturday morning, with the Kangaroos running out 48-4 victors.

The win grants Australia a semi-final clash against either NZ or Fiji, but plenty of questions remain over Meninga's best 17. James Tedesco left the field at half-time with an apparent leg niggle, and with Munster taking the reins at fullback in the second half, DCE slotted into the halves alongside Cleary.

The game started far from perfectly for the Kangaroos, with Cleary kicking the ball out on the full following his sides' first set in possession. This gave Lebanon the first attacking chance of the night, but Australia's defence held solid and the last tackle kick from Doueihi went too deep and gave away a 20m restart. 

The Kangaroos then charged downfield to open the scoring in just the 5th minute when Josh Addo-Carr crossed on the left edge for his first try of many. Cleary's kick bounced off the upright, and the score remained 4-0. Despite a penalty helping Australia get straight back on the attack, Lebanon held firm and showed plenty of fight early in the match.

It wasn't long before Addo-Carr crossed for his second, with a James Tedesco line break setting him up to dive over next to the posts. Only three minutes later, in the 19th minute, Addo-Carr secured his hat trick, this time off the back of some Munster ball-stripping magic. Cleary's conversion fell short, and the lead remained 14 points.

The pace of the game began to ramp up, and the Cedars were struggling to hang on. Another try for the Kangaroos came through their left edge, but this time it was Mitchell who crossed to extend the lead. Bizarrely, the Cleary kick came up well short yet again, and his conversion stats weren't looking pretty at 1/4. 

Cameron Murray crossed for two tries late in the half, and with Cleary knocking over the comparatively simple conversions it was the Kangaroos who led 30-0 at the break. It wasn't all easy-going however - they were forced to withstand some pressure towards the end of half, but the Cedars couldn't convert the field position into points. 

Australia came out firing to start the second half, with Addo-Carr crossing for his fourth try of the night in the 45th minute. Cleary finally converted one from the left hand touchline to make the gap 36 points. But following the points, the Kangaroos gave away a six again to let Lebanon back into Australian territory. 

Under pressure, Pat Carrigan makes a simple error that gives Lebanon more attacking ball. They finally cross for their first and only points of the night in the 52nd minute. A pinpoint Mitch Moses kick is grounded by Josh Mansour after Cameron Munster fails to bat the ball dead, and the score is 36-4.

The next five minutes is all Lebanon, with set after set absorbed by the Australian defence. The Kangaroos are rewarded for their effort when Rahme turns the ball over, and Australia dash back to the other end of the ground for Josh Addo-Carr to cross for his fifth try off the back of a wonderful Munster kick.

Lebanon are given plenty of chances thanks to more errors from Australia, but they can't find more points. Liam Martin crosses for the final try of the night in the 70th minute, and the Cleary conversion makes the full time score 48-4.

Despite the win, Australia have work to do if they want to win this world cup. Lebanon's world cup journey may be over, but we'll see them back on the world stage in 2025. They'll take plenty away from this tournament, and a number of their young players will have gained a lot of crucial experience as they look to forge their own careers in the NRL and Super League.

Australia Men 48 - Lebanon Men 4

Venue: John Smith's Stadium, Huddersfield
Crowd: 8206
Halftime Score: Australia Men 30 Lebanon Men 0 Players of the Match:
3 points - Josh Addo-Carr
2 points - Cameron Murray
1 points - Latrell Mitchell

Tries: Josh Addo-Carr (5), Latrell Mitchell, Cameron Murray (2), Liam Martin
Conversions: Nathan Cleary (6/9)

Tries: Josh Mansour
Conversions: Mitchell Moses (0/1)

See how it happened in our Match Centre