BEIRUT: The Lebanese national rugby team were thumped 31-3 by Cyprus Saturday in Paphos in a match seen as a test of the team’s readiness for the upcoming Dubai tournament.
National team coach Steve Wrigglesworth said the first half of the match saw one of the best performances of a Lebanese team since he took on his role.
In the first 20 minutes, Lebanon’s pace of play and combinations of movement had the Cypriots scrambling to contain the visitors. But Lebanon were unable to break through the defense, and Cyprus took the lead through a couple of penalties due to a lack of understanding from some new players at the breakdown and tackle area.
Through a series of plays the Lebanese pressure resulted in a penalty which was kicked by Karim Jammal. During the final minute of the first half the Cyprus team were awarded another penalty and the first half finished at 9-3 to Cyprus.
The turning point of the match happened about 20 minutes into the second half when through a series of infringements from the Lebanon side the referee sin-binned Ibrahim Ballout which resulted in more points from the penalty for Cyprus. During the period of 10 minutes the Lebanon side was under more pressure in defense and in the scrum. With two minutes to go of the sin-bin the Cyprus side was able to score near the posts and subsequently kicked the extra points, making the score 19-3.
Cyprus were awarded another penalty which they added to their points, taking the score to 22-3. A further attack deep into the Lebanon half saw Cyprus’ No. 8 come from what was believed an offside position to run through for a try under the posts which was converted. A final try from Cyprus completed the score-line and the final whistle was blown with the score at 31-3.
Wrigglesworth said after the game that he was pleased with the performance of the team.
“The score did not reflect the game and many aspects of improvement were clear to see from last year. The development process is still moving forward and the team are looking forward to coming back to Cyprus next month to play the Cyprus British Army side.”
A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Daily Star on March 12, 2012, on page 14.