New Zealand 34-12 Lebanon: 5,435 crowd watch Kiwis get underway

Photo: Craig Thomas/News Images

New Zealand overcame a spirited Lebanon 34-12 but there were crowds for concern at the Halliwell Jones Stadium.

A Joseph Manu-inspired 16-point blitz in six second half minutes tempered any threat of an upset after the Cedars started both halves strongly, led by Adam Doueihi who was sent off for dissent on the hour.

But the 5,453 attendance was a stark contrast to the opening Sunday of the last World Cup on these shores, when Sonny Bill Williams’ New Zealand beat Samoa in front of 13,965.

It raises questions over the pricing strategy for the World Cup, with organisers insistent they will not be discounting prices that some fans are saying are too expensive.

After a fifth one-sided game out of five in the tournament so far, shifting more tickets at the available price points for the remainder of the group games could be a challenge.

Despite going down by six tries to two, Lebanon provided a similarly spirited opening quarter to what Fiji managed against the mighty Australia the previous night at Headingley.

They set their stall out from the kick-off, Adam Doueihi going with an unusual high, short kick-off that they recovered the ball from. It led to the game’s opening try inside two minutes. Parramatta half-back Mitchell Moses’ grubber kick caused problems for the Kiwi defence and as Brandon Morkos fielded the ball and powered towards the line, the ball came loose and was eventually touched down in goal by Josh Mansour. It was referred upstairs to the video referee, who was happy that the ball had come out via a strip in the tackle and Lebanon took the lead.

There was an element of doubt too about New Zealand’s first try. Kenny Bromwich took on a pass following Joseph Manu’s offload and bounced over the line, with the video referee happy that momentum, rather than a double movement, had taken him to the whitewash, Jordan Rapana’s conversion levelling things up at 6-all.

Lebanon recovered the ball from the kick-off again, though failed to put any pressure on the Kiwi’s try line and eventually the game’s favourites started to wrestle control of the contest.

It took until 25 minutes for their pressure to turn in to points, Nelson Asofa-Solomona powering over from close range.

Then on his former stomping ground, ex-Warrington centre dummied from the play the ball and crossed on the right edge to give his side an 18-6 half-time lead.

Expectations of a second half procession were halted by Lebanon’s performance in the first 15 minutes of the second half, when they pulled a try back. Doueihi’s 40/20 laid the platform for a last tackle play where his long pass created space for Wigan winger Abbas Miski to touch down in the corner.

But any hope of the underdog coming out on top was extinguished five minutes either side of the hour mark.

After Lebanon went agonisingly close to levelling the scores, when Jacob Kiraz was held up inches short of the line after taking Miski’s inside kick, the Kiwis showed their class.

Joseph Manu broke through the middle and found Dylan Brown on his left shoulder for their fourth try. Manu would then take control of the game and provide a 10 minute masterclass. He gathered his own chip kick through to touch down and stretch the score to 30-12.

From the resulting short kick-off, Doueihi was sent off by referee Grant Atkins, and off the back of that penalty, the Kiwis made the most of their man advantage with Manu putting Jordan Rapana over in the right corner.

That 16 point blitz in six minutes proved to be enough, with Lebanon’s attention now turning to a likely pivotal group clash with Ireland at Leigh next weekend.

FT: New Zealand 34-12 Lebanon

New Zealand: Manu, Rapana, Hiku, Nicoll-Klokstad, Mulitalo, Brown, Foran, J Bromwich, Smith, Fisher-Harris, Papali’i, K Bromwich, Tapine. Subs: Niukore, Asofa-Solomona, Nikora, Marshall-King.

Tries: K Bromwich, Asofa-Solomona, Hiku, Brown, Manu, Rapana. Goals: Rapana 5/6

Lebanon: Kiraz, Mansour, Morkos, Robinson, Miski, Doueihi, Moses, Kalache, Kazzi, Rahme, El-Zakhem, Tasipale, Roumanos. Subs: Tannous, Maree, El-Nachar, Bazzaz.

Tries: Mansour, Miski. Goals: Moses 2.

About James Gordon 7245 Articles
Love Rugby League editor. Founded the website back in 2005. Worked with a range of clubs and sponsors during that time. Also commentates for BBC.

4 Comments

  1. The pricing for tickets is way to expensive. The pricing strategy is a complete joke just like the RFL at the moment, they are pricing league fans out of the matches so we’re is the interest going to come from when you see empty stadiums.

  2. It is not so much the cost for me. I have limited knowledge and access to modern technology. All the rigmarole of ordering or printing tickets etc got to me and i gave up. Would have gone to minimum of the 3 games at my clubs ground

  3. The pricing is a joke. Currently watching Tonga PNG. They wanted £70 for some of these tickets. £55 for teams like Greece and Samoa. Why would you pay that when you can watch it on TV.
    We’re in times of financial uncertainty. Even if we weren’t, the tickets should have been attractive. Better full stadiums. Give them to school kids. We’re supposed to be growing the game.
    As much as they’re banging on about England v France being close to a sell out. It should have sold out before the tournament. I thought I’d struggle to get tickets. But I got 4 together with ease tonight.

  4. I was at the game (paid £80+) for 2 adults and 2 kids but at an eye-popping £70 for some seats it was no wonder the stadium was empty. I agree it’s embarrassing for neutrals to see such apparent disinterest in a league world Cup match but it was completely devoid of atmosphere for those of us who attended too. I reckon my attemp to convert 2 of my guests to our game will have failed as a result. I won’t attend another match in this tournament. Also agree it’s a real faff ordering tickets online and printing at home too – I work in technology so am no technophobe but they’ve contrived to make the process as cumbersome as possible.

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