Le­banon aim to ‘shock’ Ton­gans

The Dominion Post - - Sport - TONY SMITH

Mitchell Moses swears the pres­sure is on Tonga but a ‘‘bashed up’’ Le­banon team would be out to ‘‘knock them off’’ in the Rugby League World Cup quar­ter­fi­nal.

The Par­ra­matta Eels stand­off and skip­per Rob­bie Farah hold the key to the Le­banon Cedars’ at­tack for Satur­day’s game in Christchurch.

Le­banon and Tonga are both in the play­offs for the first time, but Moses in­sists the Mate Ma’a con­querors of the Ki­wis last week­end - must be favourites.

‘‘I al­ways knew they were go­ing to go far in the com­pe­ti­tion,’’ he said yes­ter­day.

‘‘They’ve got a good shot at it now, it’s our job to try and knock them off. We are in a good po­si­tion. Re­ally, they should win the game. All the pres­sure’s on them.’’

Moses said Tonga had ‘‘great qual­ity from one to 17’’ and brimmed with NRL reg­u­lars.

‘‘We’ve got five NRL play­ers in our team.

‘‘All the pres­sure’s on them,’’ he re­peated. ‘‘We will just look to go out there and play some footy and try and shock them.’’

Moses was one of Le­banon’s walk­ing wounded in their bruis­ing 34-0 loss to Aus­tralia last week.

‘‘I’m pretty bashed up, we all are pretty bat­tered and bruised, but we’ve got the right peo­ple in our game to get us right for the game.

‘‘We will see what team Freddy [coach Brad Fit­tler] can field.’’

Fit­tler has made three changes to his start­ing lineup with Travis Robinson re­plac­ing Danny Barakat on the wing, Nick Kas­sis re­plac­ing the in­jured Chris Saab in the se­cond row and Alex Twal start­ing at prop with Ray Mou­jalli mov­ing to the in­ter­change bench.

Moses said the Le­banese were ex­pect­ing ‘‘a bash and barge game’’ from Tonga and the key would be con­trol­ling their for­wards.

‘‘Their start­ing for­ward pack [Sio Siua] Taukeiaho, [An­drew] Fi­fita and [Ja­son] Tau­malolo are a mas­sive part of their team.

‘‘They get their sets rolling and their halves can play off the back of that.

‘‘If we can min­imise the me­tres they make, we will def­i­nitely be in the game.

‘‘We are all go­ing to have to have the best games we’ve ever played.’’

Moses said his halves com­bi­na­tion with South Syd­ney’s Farah, a for­mer Aus­tralian and NSW State of Ori­gin hooker, had been ‘‘go­ing good’’, but he felt ‘‘last week we had a few hic­cups in our at­tack’’ against Aus­tralia.

‘‘We will watch the video and look to fix that up. We can’t af­ford to go do­ing that against a qual­ity side like Tonga.’’

The 23-year-old, who started his NRL ca­reer at the Wests Tigers club that was once cap­tained by Farah, felt that Le­banon could ‘‘prob­a­bly get that edge over them’’ in the halves if they can con­trol the mid­dle.

‘‘But we are just go­ing to have to stop their for­wards first.

‘‘What­ever the NRL boys in our side can feed off to the other boys, it’s go­ing to be a mas­sive help.’’

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