Kangaroos praise Lebanon's spirit

It was meant to be a World Cup mismatch of epic proportions, and while things largely went to script with Australia defeating Lebanon 34-0, the Cedars gained plenty of admirers after another spirited performance at the Sydney Football Stadium. 

Brad Fittler's men were in the contest at half-time but injuries and a lack of big-game experience came back to haunt them in the final 20 minutes as Australia piled on a couple of late tries to boost their already impressive points differential. 

While they couldn't crack Australia's defence, Lebanon held their own and threatened at times with their left edge causing plenty of headaches for Tom Trbojevic and Dane Gagai. 

Kangaroos captain Cameron Smith was impressed by Lebanon's performance, especially their die-hard fans who generated plenty of atmosphere in the stands from the opening whistle to the final siren. 

"It's quite similar to last week when we played the French," Smith said. 

"For a lot of those guys, this is the opportunity of a lifetime to play against the Kangaroos, and that's the way they played tonight. They played like this is the only time they'll ever play against Australia in the first Test match between the Kangaroos and Lebanon. 

"I thought the crowd was fantastic, particularly down in that far corner. They were very spirited and they did not let up the whole game. That's what this World Cup's all about. 

"It was a fantastic game and I congratulated their players after the game for the way they played and hung in there even though the game was out of reach by the 60-minute mark. I wasn't surprised at all because I knew that was the way that they were going to come out and play the entire 80 minutes."

Kangaroos coach Mal Meninga praised the Cedars for their efforts in Pool A, with Lebanon on track for a spot in the quarter-finals against Tonga unless France shock England on Sunday night.

"They've done really well throughout the qualifying rounds," he said. 

"They beat France and we were very impressed with France last week. They took England to the wire – they performed well last week – and they performed very well against us as well. 

"They've done really well in the qualifiers so congratulations to them for reaching the quarter-finals. They deserve to be there."