Press Release, Date: 20/6/2012
Tripoli City Kings RLFC, in their debut season, have been crowned Lebanese rugby league champions after defeating the Immortals RLFC, 34-14 in Beirut.
The Kings dethroned the reigning champions who, having participated in all five Bank of Beirut Championship finals – losing the first two – and were looking for a hat-trick of victories against the northern newcomers.
The omens had not been auspicious for the Immortals following a serious training ground injury to all-time leading Lebanese points scorer Rudy Hachache, who fractured his leg in three places in the build up.
Having won just one of their opening five matches Tripoli finished second in the league ladder after a mid-season revival but gathered momentum to claim the title and victory now provides player/coach and try scorer, Naaman Naaman with the impetus to establish the club in the sporting landscape of the country’s second city.
“As the first northern-based team to take part in the Bank of Beirut Championship, no one gave us much hope against an impressive Immortals side,” said a jubilant Allen Soultan, the Kings’ captain. “However, our self-belief and camaraderie got us through in the end, as it has all year. The boys showed talent and experience beyond their years and enjoyed a fitting end to their Cinderella story.”
In a captivating grand final, Mohamed Merheb’s opener for Tripoli was cancelled out by George Rahal’s score four minutes later, Jad Hachem’s successful conversion giving the men from Beirut a 6-4 advantage, the only time they were to lead in the match.
The sides were level 10-all at the break but three converted tries in the opening nine minutes of the second half gave Tripoli a 28-10 lead that broke the green-and-whites’ resolve.
Despite Robin Hachache lifting his side with a typical try to make it 28-14 the Immortals were unable to close the gap, Charbel Khattar wrapping up an unexpected but deserved win.
Immortals RLFC 14 (10) v (10) 34 Tripoli City RLFC
Immortals Tries: George Rahal, Adam Itani, Robin Hachache Immortals Goals: Jad Hachem 1/3
Tripoli City Tries: Mohamed Merheb, Charbel Khattar 2, Naaman Naaman, Mike Elias 2 Tripoli City Goals: Mohamed Merheb 5/6