BEIRUT: Lebanon qualified for the knockout stages of the Rugby League World Cup, following a gallant display against number-one ranked Australia at Sydney’s Allianz Stadium Saturday.
While the Cedars lost 34-0 to defending champions Australia, a brave performance in defeat against the tournament’s unquestionable favorites allowed them to walk away crowd favorites at the event.
Despite the loss, Lebanon was also able to qualify on points difference and will play Tonga next Saturday in the first of the tournament's knockout rounds.
Lebanon’s current run, in only their second appearance in the biggest tournament of the Rugby League, represents the best run ever achieved by Lebanon.
The loss to Australia left Lebanon’s progression to the next round dependent on an England victory over France, and confirmation came Sunday as England hammered France 36-3.
Lebanon managed to beat France 29-18 two weeks ago in Canberra, and put in a similarly brave display in a defeat by England last week.
The national team has been buoyed in recent years with an influx of talent from the Lebanese-Australian community. Their progression to the knockout stages means they have also automatically qualified for the next World Cup in 2021, to be held in England.
The tournament’s final will take place in Brisbane on Dec. 2.