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Lebanon secure 25-19 victory over Jordan in A5N kickoff
The Lebanese team line up before taking on Jordan.
The Lebanese team line up before taking on Jordan.
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BEIRUT: Lebanon picked up a superb 25-19 win over Jordan Wednesday to book a place in the final of the Asian Five Nations – A5N – held in Dubai.

The win means that Lebanon will pay defending champions Qatar in the final Friday.

The team assembled with players coming from Lebanon, Dubai, Kuwait, Qatar and Australia. The new team had three training sessions as a group to prepare for the first game.

The first half saw the Jordan team dominate for the first 15 minutes with some good phases of rucking that provided quick ball movement. However, the Lebanese defense were able to match the intensity albeit giving a couple of penalties away to allow Jordan to take the lead 6-0.

It was not until halfway through the first half that the Lebanese team started to put some phase play together and gain momentum.

A penalty from captain Karim Jammal got the scoreboard ticking over for Lebanon but the Jordanians once again pushed hard, resulting in a try that was not converted, leaving the score 11-3 with 15 minutes of the half to play.

The Lebanese team kept their composure and pushed forward hard, culminating in a try from Tom Saliba that unfortunately went unconverted.

With the score now 11-8, Lebanon pushed hard again and kept trying to play wide. The tactic paid off with a couple of the minutes of the half to play, when Jad Hachem went over in the corner for a try which was converted by Jammal. The first half finished at 15-11 in favor of the Lebanese side.

The second half was more even in terms of possession with both sides trying to break down each other’s defenses. With the wind in Lebanon’s favor, Jammal kept pushing the Jordanian side back into their own half with a solid chase game. A better defensive structure allowed Lebanon to assert pressure.

The Jordanian side were first to put points on the board with a penalty taking the score to 15-14 for Lebanon.

After this, the Jordanian side pushed hard again and took the lead with a try, turning round the score to 15-19.

With about half an hour to play the Lebanese coach brought experienced back row player Hasan Kariki and new scrum half Jamie Grey onto the field.

Jean-Marie Rizzkallah took to the field with 20 minutes to play and was immediately in the game providing the final pass to Mohammad Tawil to run in behind the posts to score a try which was converted by Jammal.

With the Lebanese team in the lead, they pushed forward and were awarded a penalty to take the score to 25-19.

The Jordanian side once again came back with strong attack and camped in the Lebanese half for what seemed an age.

They pushed hard, but a scrambled defense from the Lebanese side did not allow them to get over the line.

With what was thought to be the final play of the game, Jamie Grey ended up giving the Jordanians a final 5-meter scrum which they won and tried to use to push through the Lebanese defense. However, the ball was ripped off them and kicked out of play to finish the game with Lebanon winners at 25-19.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Daily Star on April 27, 2012, on page 14.
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