By John Davidson, Date: 14/11/17 (Photo Credit NRLPhotos)
Venue: Christchurch Stadium, New Zealand
Date: Saturday November 18th 2017
TV Kick-off time: 5pm NZDT (Local Time)
Australia Kick-off time Sydney / Melbourne: Saturday, 18 November 2017 at 3:00:00 pm
Australia Kick-off time Brisbane: Saturday, 18 November 2017 at 2:00:00 pm
Tonga Kick-off time: Nukualofa (Tonga) Saturday, 18 November 2017 at 5:00:00 pm TOT
Lebanon Kick-off time: Beirut (Lebanon) Saturday, 18 November 2017 at 6:00:00 am EET
Lebanon will be out to upset a Tongan tide when the two nations meet in the World Cup quarter-finals on Saturday.
The Cedars and the Mata Ma’a, fresh from their history-making win over the Kiwis, will go head to head in Christchurch. Tonga will have key centre Michael Jennings, a former Australian and NSW representative, back after he missed the New Zealand victory with a hamstring injury.
Mahe Fonua makes way in the only change to the run-on XIII. Peni Terepo slips off the bench and has been replaced by Sam Moa.
For the underdog Cedars coach Brad Fittler has been forced into several changes because of injury after the brave display against the Kangaroos. Winger Travis Robinson is back with Danny Bakarat dropped. Alex Twal is back in the starting team along with Nick Kassis.
Andrew Kazzi drops out, and is replaced by Elia Sukkar on the bench, while Ray Moujalli has moved from being a starter to on the bench. Fittler has only named 20 players due to injury, including Chris Saab, after he was forced from the field in Sydney with concussion.
Tonga’s landmark defeat of the Kiwis has sent shockwaves across the sport. It has made headlines around the world and been feted by fans and the media alike. Tonga will be favourites to beat Lebanon but the gutsy and determined Cedars won’t make it easy for them.
Tonga coach Kristian Woolf is not getting ahead of himself just yet, but believes his talented team can go all the way at this World Cup.
“I’m not going to sit here and say ‘no’. We’ve just beaten a tier one nation,” he said.
“Australia’s a whole different beast. They’ve won so many internationals because of the way they play and the way they just suffocate you. We’ve got a long, long way before we play them. We’ve got to worry about Lebanon next week, then we’ve got to worry about what happens after that as well.”
Woolf backed his side to keep making headlines.
“One thing international rugby league gets a knock over is that Australia tend to win most things and it’s always who’s going to come second,” the coach said.
“What this says is that us, Samoa, Fiji, Papua New Guinea, we’re not too far off the mark and those teams are really coming along with us.”
Mate Ma’a Tonga v Lebanon Cedars teams 2017 RLWC Quarter Finals
Mate Ma’a Tonga 2017 RLWC Quarter Finals Squad:
1 William HOPOATE
2 Daniel TUPOU
3 Michael JENNINGS
4 Konrad HURRELL
5 David FUSITU’A
6 Tuimoala LOLOHEA
7 Mafoa’aeata HINGANO
8 Andrew FIFITA
9 Sione KATOA
10 Sio Siua TAUKEIAHO
11 Manu MA’U
12 Sika MANU (c)
13 Jason TAUMALOLO
14 Siliva HAVILI
15 Sam MOA
16 Tevita PANGAI JNR
17 Ben MURDOCH-MASILA
18 Ukuma TA’AI
19 Joe OFAHENGAUE
20 Mahe FONUA
21 Samisoni LANGI
Lebanon Cedars 2017 RLWC Quarter Finals Squad:
2 Travis ROBINSON
3 James ELIAS
4 Adam DOUEIHI
5 Abbas MISKI
6 Mitchell MOSES
7 Robbie FARAH ©
8 Tim MANNAH
9 Michael LICHAA
10 Alex TWAL
11 Nick KASSIS Chris SAAB
12 Ahmad ELLAZ
13 Jamie CLARK
14 Mitchell MAMARY
15 Raymond MOUJALLI
16 Elias SUKKAR
17 Jason WEHBE
18 Andrew KAZZI
19 Chris SAAB
20 Bilal MAARBANI