You have skipped the navigation, tab for page content

This World Cup is far from a one-horse race. Take nothing away from Lebanon – they were as gutsy and passionate as their supporters who made up the majority of a strong crowd at the Sydney Football Stadium on Saturday night.

But Kangaroos coach Mal Meninga has plenty of cause for concern.

If it was their first week in the tournament, you could put it down to teething problems. But this was the last game before the knockout stage of the World Cup. Granted, Meninga has chopped and changed his line-up in each of Australia's pool games, but they've had almost a month of training together.

With New Zealand losing to Tonga, and England slowly improving through the tournament, this is arguably the most open World Cup in recent memory.

It's easy to forget the Kangaroos are without Greg Inglis, Johnathan Thurston, Matt Scott and Darius Boyd. But even without the four guaranteed starters, they still possess the best team on paper.

Australia were always going to beat Lebanon, but the fact they only went into half time with a 10-0 advantage was a victory for their opposition. The fact it was just 22-0 after 75 minutes was an even greater accomplishment.

Lebanon, a team predominantly made up of part timers, had no right to be within cooee of the Kangaroos, let alone make the best 17 players in the country look like a team that had only just met. 

For Lebanon, this was their World Cup final. What they produced was incredible. For most, Saturday night will be remembered as one of the greatest nights of their life. 

This was Australia's home ground, but it was far from an advantage. Just ask Josh Mansour, who was jeered by the fans of the team he contemplated representing given his father's heritage.

In front of a crowd of 21,127 at the Sydney Football Stadium, Australia struggled to take the game by the scruff of the neck given their inability to control the ball in the 34-0 win.

Lebanon's completion rate was far superior in the opening half, and despite gradually losing troops to injury and concussion throughout the game, their defence wasn't the rabble you'd expect from a minnow nation.

The night also doubled as a fine NSW Origin audition for Lebanon coach Brad Fittler, who continues to work wonders with teams in a camp environment.

He always found a way to get City ready to knock off a more fancied Country team in the now abandoned representative fixture.

And again he's shown that there's more to coaching than tactics. The way he has united the Lebanese team shows what he can do in a short period of time.

Meninga's strengths aren't necessarily what he teaches his players, but what he instils in them that made him so successful throughout a decorated stint as Queensland State of Origin coach and again for Australia.

But he has his work cut out for him in the green and gold this tournament despite maintaining his unbeaten record on Saturday night.

Acknowledgement of Country

National Rugby League respects and honours the Traditional Custodians of the land and pay our respects to their Elders past, present and future. We acknowledge the stories, traditions and living cultures of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples on the lands we meet, gather and play on.

Premier Partner

Media Partners

Major Partners

View All Partners