England sealed their first win of the 2017 Rugby League World Cup with a comfortable 29-10 victory over an impressive Lebanon side at the Allianz Stadium on Saturday.
Kallum Watkins gave England an early lead before Lebanon’s Nick Kassis tied the score. Three tries from Jermaine McGillvary, Ryan Hall and Ben Currie saw England 22-6 to the good at half-time.
Tom Burgess stretched England’s lead in the second half before Jason Wehbe pulled one back for the Cedars. Widdop secured the two points for England with a drop-goal late on as they won 29-10 in Sydney.
Wayne Bennett made three changes to his side that fell short to Australia last week. Stefan Ratchford, Alex Walmsley and George Williams replaced Jonny Lomax, Sam Burgess and James Roby.
Lebanon head coach Brad Fittler made four changes to his side that beat France last time out. Daniel Abou-Sleiman, Bilal Maarbani, Jamie Clark and Raymound Moujalli came in to the team and replaced Anthony Layoun, James Elias, Andrew Kazzi and Jaleel Seve-Derbas.
England got off to the right start, having a couple of sets attacking the Lebanon line before eventually going over in the eighth minute. They passed it through quick hands down the line to Kallum Watkins who finished calmly in the corner. Gareth Widdop converted from the touchline to put his side 6-0 up.
In the 17th minute, Lebanon levelled the score as Nick Kassis latched onto a pin-point grubber from Robbie Farah to score. Mitchell Moses added the conversion to tie the score at 6-6.
It didn’t take long for the Three Lions to take the lead for a second time when they caused problems down the right-hand side, resulting in Jermaine McGillvary cutting inside to score beneath the sticks. Widdop’s conversion put England in a 12-6 advantage.
England were starting to pull away from the Cedars midway through the first half. They passed it through quick hands down the line to Ryan Hall who barged over the line, shrugging Travis Robinson off in the process. The conversion went wide but England were 16-6 to the good.
Ben Currie scored his first ever try for England when he was slipped through a gap by Canberra Raiders ace Josh Hodgson. Widdop converted to send England leading 22-6 when going into the changing rooms.
HALF TIME: England 22–6 Lebanon.
It was a scratchy start to the second half for both sides but England always looked to be in control of the game.
The Three Lions eventually scored the first try of the second half when Tom Burgess burst onto a James Graham short ball to make a 30-metre break and step Lebanon full-back Daniel Abou-Sleiman to touch down. Widdop arrowed his conversion through the sticks, England 28-6 Lebanon.
Lebanon didn’t give up and scored their second try of the night in the 75th minute when Moses threw a crisp pass to Jason Wehbe who forced his way over from close range. Moses’ conversion attempt went wide and England were still in a 28-10 lead.
The Cedars continued to try and get over the try-line late on and came close with Moses pulling the strings in the halves but England did very well to keep them at bay.
Widdop notched up a one-pointer for England at the death as the Three Lions rounded off a convincing 29-10 victory.
FULL TIME: England 29–10 Lebanon.
England – 29
Tries: Watkins, McGillvary, Hall, Currie, T Burgess
Goals: Widdop 4/5
Drop Goals: Widdop 1
Tries: Kassis, Wehbe
Goals: Moses 1/2
Loverugbyleague.com MOM: Josh Hodgson (England)
England: 21. Stefan Ratchford, 2. Jermaine McGillvary, 3. Kallum Watkins, 4. John Bateman, 5. Ryan Hall, 6. Gareth Widdop, 7. Luke Gale, 8. Chris Hill, 9. Josh Hodgson, 10. James Graham, 11. Ben Currie, 12. Elliott Whitehead, 13. Sean O’Loughlin (C).
Interchange: 14. Alex Walmsley, 15. Chris Heighington, 16. Tom Burgess, 18. George Williams.
Lebanon: 1. Daniel Abou-Sleiman, 2. Travis Robinson, 3. Bilal Maarbani, 4. Adam Doueihi, 5. Abbas Miski, 6. Mitchell Moses, 7. Robbie Farah (C), 8. Tim Mannah, 16. Jamie Clark, 14. Mitchell Mamary, 10. Alex Twal, 12. Ahmad Ellaz, 13. Nick Kassis.
Interchange: 9. Michael Lichaa, 15. Raymound Moujalli, 17. Jason Wehbe, 18. Elias Sukkar.
Referee – Ben Thaler