he Cedars have successfully defended their Mediterranean Cup title and beat Italy in a closely contested match to remain undefeated on home soil. The Lebanese Rugby League Federation hosted the Italians at the Lebanese University in Hadath in the 2017 edition of the Mediterranean Cup.
It was a physical encounter, with massive hits and bolstering runs from both teams early in the match, with both forward packs attempting to assert their dominance and set the pace of the game. The Cedars scored first down the short side thanks to a quick play the ball with Jeffrey Tohme drawing first blood for the home side. The Italians drew level late in the first half to take the score to 4-4 at half time.
The second half was an error-ridden affair for both teams, with the fatigue kicking in following the physical battle across the field. The Lebanese capitalised on an Italian penalty under the posts to take a two-point lead late in the second half. In the dying seconds of the match, Azzuri player Mirco Bergamasco was denied a try in the left corner that left the Italians heart broken. The referee called the player out of bounds, which left the final score at 6-4 for the Cedars.
Cedars captain, Robin Hachache, said, “It was a tough physical game, we didn’t play our best rugby league and our completion rate was horrendous which made the task even harder.” “But we held our line defended well and were able to grind out the win. Credit to the Italians for always being such a tough opposition.” Hachache added.
Cedars Interim Head Coach Tarik Houchar commended the Cedars brave effort, “It was a close game that was decided in the dying stages of the game, a low scoring game resulting from far too many mistakes from both teams.” “We went into half-time with the scores locked at four all, we made far too many mistakes and needed to make more tackles than the Italians but our boys worked hard and stood up when it counted.” Houchar added.
Houchar’s young players were an exciting addition to the Cedars squad, “We came into this game with a really young squad and these players walked away with their heads help up high, there were a couple of outstanding performances, none-better than front rower Toufic El Hage who played 70 minutes and was relentless in attack and defence. Ray Sabat our full back looked lethal with the ball as well.”
The Cedars were down to 15 men due to injuries, and Houchar is happy to walk away with the win, “We dug deep when our backs were to the wall and walked away with the result we set out on our arrival, a great result for the local Cedars.”
Referee: Mikhael Shammas
Touch Judge: Nadeem Moughnieh, Sami Assaf
4th Official: Jad Esseily
R. Sabat, A. Bowles, K. el Rafii, J. Tohme, J. Moorkar, W. Harb, I. Chidiac, T. El Hage, G. Hammoudieh, Z. Agha, K. Bejjani, A. Abou Arabi, R. Hachache, Subs: M. Tawk, R. Farjallah, J.M. Rizkalla, E. Bou Lattof
F. Borina, A. Rigo, E. Passera, M. Bergamasco, E. Pezzano, J. Giorgis, I. Gimmario, G. Pagani, S. Bosoco, T. Nicoli, A. Hliwa, M. Sands, G. Celerino, Subs: F. Ciavrro, S. Stanissa, F. Di Trapani, I. Bayoui