Rugby League: Malta to face LebanonWednesday, March 15, 2017, 12:16
Two passionate Mediterranean nations will renew their rivalry on Saturday 6 May in an important warm up for Ivan Cleary’s Lebanese World Cup team as they prepare to take on heavyweights Australia, England and France in the opening stages of this year’s global event.
The Cedars, sitting behind Malta and just outside the top 20 in RLIF world rankings are staging the fixture as a ‘home match’ at New Era Stadium during the NRL international Round when they collide with the red and white knights for the third time.
On both occasions the countries have met, the middle-eastern men have out-muscled their European counterparts, the latest outing being a damp May afternoon in Sydney two years ago with Lebanon retaining the coveted cup.
After level-pegging all day, the Knights led that game 16-12 with 20minutes remaining as debutant Kyal Greene crashed over for his second of the day, however the Cedars finished too strongly for Malta, deservedly earning bragging rights over the tiny island nation with a 34-16 full-time score at St Marys Stadium.
The Cedars have underlined in recent times why they are odds-on favourites heading into the Phoenician contest after comfortable wins in a two-Test series in South Africa, victory over the Italians in Sicily and a hard-fought encounter against Cook Islands last May.
The later taking place at Belmore Oval, the spiritual home of the Canterbury Bulldogs.
After tries from their incumbent stars Adnan El Zbaidieh and Nick Kassis, the 21st ranked Cedars went into the break with a 16-12 advantage, however the Kukis came back from the sheds more determined and laid on more points to ensure a 30-20 triumph for the small Pacific country.
Malta’s last game was a come-from-behind 44-26 win against the Philippines in February following a heavy 58-10 defeat at the hands of the Ireland Wolfhounds on their home turf in the coastal town of Bray on the Emerald Isle.
Ensuring a carnival atmosphere in south-western Sydney, there will be cultural performances, merchandise stalls and entertainment throughout the afternoon.
Several curtain-raisers to the main game will include a Lebanon U18′s v Maltese Heritage U18s kicking off at 4.15pm and an Inaugural Malta Women’s team taking up the game of Rugby League in front of what is expected to be a capacity crowd.
Main game: 7.30pm
Official Facebook event can be found here: https://www.facebook.com/events/223924111409387/
Lebanon vs Malta – Phoenician Cup
Saturday 6 May, 2017
New Era Stadium