Tonga into semi-finals with 2-point win over Lebanon

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    Tonga have hung on to beat a gutsy Lebanon team 24-22 in an entertaining Rugby League World Cup quarter-final in Christchurch.

    The Tongans led 22-16 at half-time and only added a penalty goal in the second half, but it was enough to get them the win. It earns them a semi-final spot next week against the winner of the England and Papua New Guinea quarter-final being played tomorrow.

    For Lebanon, their World Cup is over, but they gave the Tongans a big scare with a spirited performance.

    The Tongans scored four tries to three in the first half to head into the sheds leading 22-16.

    They scored their first try in the 4th minute when winger David Fusitua made a break out wide, before turning the ball back inside for five-eighth Tui Lolohea to score under the posts.

    Lebanon hit back five minutes later though through a backline play which ended with centre Adam Doueihi stepping back inside to score. That made it 6-all.

    The Tongans regained the lead in the 18th minute when winger David Fusitua scored the first of his two tries, showing good skills to get the ball down in the corner. They were in again four minutes later when fullback Will Hopoate used his size to crash over out wide to make it 16-6.

    But the Lebanese team hit back in the 30th minute after great lead-up work from Mitchell Moses. He ran the ball on the last after being put under pressure, made a break and then put the ball on the toe. Centre James Elias won the race to ground the ball beside the posts.

    Three minutes later, Fusitua helped the Tongans to skip away after using his height to take a cross-field kick and plant the ball down in the corner for his second try. The successful conversion made it 22-12.

    Then on the stroke of half-time, Lebanon threw the ball around in desperation before putting a kick through. Winger Abbas Miski grounded the ball to score out wide.

    Lebanon had a try disallowed six minutes into the second half when Tonga’s defence was ruled to have been obstructed before centre Adam Doueihi crossed for what would have been his second try.

    Mitchell Moses was also brought down inches short of the line ten minutes later after making a great break.

    The Lebanese finally crossed with ten minutes to go after throwing the ball around and eventually creating an overlap for winger and Josh Mansour-lookalike Abbas Miski to score his second try.

    Moses’ conversion made it 24-22 and set up a grandstand finish, but Tonga hung on to book their semi-final berth.