Tonga made Rugby League history last weekend as they beat New Zealand and they will be looking to make even more history against an underrated Lebanon side on Saturday.
The Tongans made history in the Rugby League World Cup as they beat New Zealand 28-22 to become the first ever Tier Two nation to get the better of a Tier One nation.
Meanwhile, Lebanon lost 34-0 against tournament favourites Australia but the scoreline didn’t do it justice as the Cedars matched the Kangaroos in some parts of the game. Australia beat Samoa 46-0 in the first quarter-final so Lebanon can take a lot of pride from their performance last week.
They have also pushed England close, losing 29-10 while they beat France in the opening weekend of the 2017 Rugby League World Cup.
Tonga and Lebanon are the two teams in the tournament that, arguably, play with most pride and have a lot of passion in playing for their country which is great to see.
The win against the Kiwis last week could swing both ways for Tonga. They could kick on from this and put in a confident display against Lebanon and reach the semi-finals or they could underestimate the Cedars, having defeated a Tier One nation last week.
It is going to be interesting because it is the first ever time that the countries will play each other and the first time that either side has progressed through the group stages of a Rugby League World Cup.
The clear key battle that stands out more than the rest in this appetising quarter-final clash is the one between Tonga’s Andrew Fifita and Lebanon’s Alex Twal. Fifita is regarded as one of the best props in the world, having made nearly 200 NRL appearances. He is an aggressive player who causes the opposition plenty of problems.
Twal is only 21-years-old but he has been one of the best front-rowers in the 2017 Rugby League World Cup. He has only played nine NRL games with Wests Tigers but is definitely a name to remember. He is second in the top-tackler chart at the tournament with 130 and boasts a big frame which defences can’t always handle.
ONES TO WATCH
The one to watch for Tonga is Tui Lolohea. The Wests Tigers star ran the show in their emphatic win over New Zealand last weekend and has formed a good half-back partnership with Ata Hingano. Lolohea is a great player to watch and has a great short kicking game.
Another name to remember for the future is Anthony Layoun. He is only 20 years of age but he has the potential to become one of the best full-backs in the world. He has yet to make a first-grade appearance for Parramatta Eels but he has everything in his locker. Tonga will have to try to keep him out of the game as best as they possibly can on Saturday.
TONGA: 1. William Hopoate, 2. Daniel Tupou, 3. Michael Jennings, 4. Konrad Hurrell, 5. David Fusitu’a, 6. Tui Lolohea, 7. Ata Hingano, 8. Andrew Fifita, 9. Sione Katoa, 10. Sio Siua Taukeiaho, 11. Manu Ma’u, 12. Sika Manu, 13. Jason Taumalolo. Subs: 14. Siliva Havili, 15. Sam Moa, 16. Tevita Pangai Jnr, 17. Ben Murdoch-Masila. Reserves: 18. Ukuma Ta’ai, 19. Joe Ofahengaue, 20. Mahe Fonua, 21. Samisoni Langi.
LEBANON: 1. Anthony Layoun, 2. Travis Robinson, 3. James Elias, 4. Adam Doueihi, 5. Abbas Miski, 6. Mitchell Moses, 7. Robbie Farah, 8. Tim Mannah, 9. Michael Lichaa, 10. Alex Twal, 11. Nick Kassis, 12. Ahmad Ellaz, 13. Jamie Clark. Subs: 14. Mitchell Mamary, 15. Ray Moujalli, 16. Elias Sukkar, 17. Jason Wehbe. Reserves: 18. Andrew Kazzi, 19. Chris Saab, 20. Bilal Maarbani.
Referee – Gerard Sutton, Touch Judges – Robert Hicks & Dave Munro, Video Referee – Ashley Klein.
Due to their impressive World Cup campaign so far, Tonga are the favourites to reach the semi-finals. They have a very strong squad this year and will be very confident on the back of the win against the Kiwis last week. Loverugbyleague.com predicts Tonga by 22 points.
You can watch the game LIVE on Premier Sports at 4am on Saturday 18 November.
How do you see the game going? Who will win? Let us know in the comments below.