Lebanon and Malta Named Great Squads for Elias-Fenech Trophy Clash

Lebanon and Malta competed for the Elias-Fenech Trophy when they met on June 22 (7:30 p.m. local time) at Canterbury’s Belmore Sports Ground. This was to kick off the international midseason schedule for the southern hemisphere as wagers prepared for point spread betting

The most infamous hooker fight occurred in 1986 at the Sydney Cricket Ground when Balmain’s Benny Elias allegedly bit South Sydney’s Mario Fenech, but it was Fenech’s fault.

“I have the highest regard for Mario,” Elias, who ran into Fenech again before the game, remarked. “I am from a large Lebanese family, while he is from a large Maltese family. When asked to join, I responded, ‘It would be an honor.’ We’ve moved on from punches to hugs, so I’m certain he feels similarly.”

Team Plans

Each team has selected 19 players for the upcoming match. As Lebanon prepares for the World Cup in the fall, Michael Cheika will take charge of Lebanon for the first time. 

He has selected nine individuals to play in their first game, including Danny Ghantos on his home field and Hanna El Nachar of the Penrith Panthers. Reece and Travis Robinson, brothers with extensive experience, will assist him.

Cheika stated, “Wednesday’s Test will be an excellent opportunity for some of our World Cup hopefuls to demonstrate their abilities.” 

“We’ll keep it straightforward and concentrate on our teamwork,” he added. “We will also make it clear what we value so that our Lebanese fans around the world can relate to how we play the game in their jersey.”

Jarrod Sammut, who has flown in from English Championship club Barrow, will benefit Malta. Malta last defeated Montenegro at home. Aaron McDonald, the head coach of Malta, remarked, “Tyler Cassel is the ideal captain.” 

“He’ll wear the armband because he’s a natural leader who’s always in the middle of the action,” McDonald stated. “I’m pleased with the Malta players in contention, and I’m confident we’ll give Lebanon the World Cup tune-up Michael desires.”

Lebanon Claim Elias-Fenech Against Malta

Michael Cheika, the new Lebanon coach, told the Cedars players that he had shed a tear after witnessing Lebanon’s 30–14 victory over Malta at Belmore Sports Ground on Wednesday night. Cheika was in South America at the time, but he could stream the game live.

Cheika missed his first game as a rugby league coach because he had to travel to Argentina earlier than planned to prepare Los Pumas for the upcoming Test against Scotland. 

The Lebanon players gathered in the locker room around a mobile phone to video chat with Cheika, who had to miss his first game due to an injury.

Matt King, assisting Cheika in Lebanon along with Jake Friend and Robbie Farah, reported that Cheika cried as he observed the boys. He stated that he has seen and played a great deal of football throughout his life but has never been as nervous as he was tonight.

“I suppose [Cheika] had no control over anything today, so he was probably both nervous and excited,” King said. 

Matt King praises the attitude of Lebanon players

Due to a change in his flight plans, Cheika had to leave early to return to Argentina before the game began. King, his assistant coach, was in charge of the match day.

“Of course, you cannot expect to be perfect after only three days of practice,” said the former South Sydney and Warrington star. “However, you want the boys to play for each other, which they did tonight. The boys are wearing this jumper and care greatly about it, as evidenced by their defense tonight.”

He also added, “They were difficult to deal with, but when they collided, it hurt. It is a step in the right direction for October, making Michael’s team selection difficult.”

Malta suffer Tyler Cassel’s blow

Lebanon took the lead in the third minute when Yassmin crossed the corner for an unconverted try. However, Malta responded when Hayden Pace intercepted and converted Jarrod Sammut’s grubber. Sammut scored a penalty after the Maltese team moved closer to the Lebanon goal line after Tyler Cassel was injured.

Adam Rizk wisely kicked to his brother Josh, who scored the second set for the Cedars. Malta had a try disallowed due to a knock-on, but Yassim’s 95-meter run made the score 12–6.

Nick Kassis scored immediately after halftime to extend Lebanon’s lead, but Malta was again stopped for a double movement. After an hour, when stand-off Joel Bradford took a bouncing kick and Sammut scored his third goal, they were able to cross the goal line.

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