Lebanon kicked off their 2013 Rugby League World Cup European Zone Qualifiers with a rousing 96-4 win against Serbia at the Tripoli Olympic Stadium. The Cedars ran in 17 tries, Danny Barakat setting the ball rolling in the third minute with the first of his hat trick, full back Adnan Saleh and Jamie Clark also claiming hat tricks.
Satisfied Lebanon coach David Bayssari, was not carried away by the final score. “It was one of those games,” he said. “The Serbs tried their all and never let up. Our boys played pretty well and our goal is now the Russian game next week and aiming for another win.”
It was a carnival atmosphere from the vocal home crowd as the players ran out, and were then introduced to the Lebanese Minister of Youth and Sport Faysal Karami, but the visitors were up against it from the outset, the opening try coming from a planned grubber kick on only their second set of six.
Adnan El Zabedieh went over in the eighth minute with hooker Clark claiming his first soon after as the big home pack got on a roll. The Serbians, who lacked nothing in passion, prevented any further breaches in their line for ten minutes but three further touchdowns in quick succession from Saleh, Adham El Zabedieh and winger Clifton Nye effectively put the game out of reach. Nick Kassis and Saleh again extended the lead to 46-0 at the break, Nadim Couri finishing with 13 conversions from 15 attempts.
James Boustani brought up the half century three minutes in to the second period, Barakat crossing on the next play, Nye then claiming his second. Boustani and Clark added further touchdowns before the hour mark and the superior fitness of the hosts saw them finish strongly, Saleh, skipper Khaled Deeb, Barakat and Clark completing the rout.
Stand off Adam Nedić gained the Serbians sole consolation effort as they ran out of fit bodies and, when the siren went, the jovial crowd rushed onto the field to join in celebration with their new found heroes.
A realistic Lee Crooks, the Serbian coach was satisfied his players gave their all. “It’s a game that nobody really expected us to win and the gulf in experience was there for all to see,” he commented. “Their awareness of the game and understanding, strength and power far outweighed ours. I was really pleased with the effort of our players. I think we stuck to our structure well, which will help us going forward. We completed a lot more sets in the second half which enabled us to put them under more pressure and we’ll look to develop the team against Italy and hope for a positive result against Russia.”
Lebanon Cedars: Tries: Adnan El Zabedieh, Adnan Saleh 3, Danny Barakat 3, Clifton Nye 2, James Boustani 2, Khaled Deeb, Jamie Clark 3, Nick Kassis, Adham El Zabedieh Goals: Nadim Couri 13 from 15, Ibrahim Ballout, 1 from 1, Robin Hachache 0 from 1 Team: Adnan Saleh, Adnan El Zabedieh, Danny Barakat, Adham El Zabedieh, Clifton Nye, James Boustani, Nadim Couri, Khaled Deeb (c), Jamie Clark, Allen Soultan, Ahmed Ellaz, Steve Azzi, Ray Moujalli, Subs: Ali Kourouche, Nick Kassis, Ibrahim Ballout, Robin Hachache
Serbia: Tries: Adam Nedić Goals: Austen Novaković 0 from 1 Team: Ivan Šušnjara, Vladan Kikanović, Miloš Ćalić, Aleksandar Aleksić, Nebojša Živanović, Adam Nedić, Dalibor Vukanović, Ilija Radan, Nikša Unković, Lazar Živković, Stefan Nedeljković, Soni Radovanović, Austen Novaković, Subs: Dejan Lukenić, Danilo Delić, Zoran Pešić, Milan Šušnjara