England win - but will this photo mean McGillvary is banned?
Lebanon captain Robbie Farah remains adamant that he was bitten by winger Jermaine McGillvary during his side’s defeat by England in Sydney.
England got off the mark in the World Cup, bouncing back from their opening defeat to Australia with victory over the Cedars at the Allianz Stadium, but coach Wayne Bennett was not impressed and the result was overshadowed by the biting allegation.
Farah raised the complaint two minutes into the second half and, although referee Ben Thaler did not penalise the Huddersfield player, he put the incident on report and it will now be scrutinised by the match review panel.
“Things happen in a split-second on the field and you react,” said Farah. “I made a complaint on the field, and I’ll leave it at that. I don’t think I need to say much else. There is a bit of footage there. It’s pretty clear for everyone to see what happened on the replay.”
McGillvary, who scored England’s second try, was not made available to the media post-match, and Bennett said he was unclear about the incident.
“It’s a bit hard for me to make a comment,” Bennett said. “I have no more information than you’ve got. From where I’m sitting, I can’t tell you whether he bit him or not.”
Lebanon coach Brad Fittler simply pointed out: “It’s in the hands of the match review committee now.”
England scored first-half tries through Kallum Watkins, McGillvary, Ryan Hall and Ben Currie to establish a comfortable 22-6 lead but failed to press home their advantage after the break, Tom Burgess scoring their only other try. “I’m pleased it’s over,” Bennett said. “It had its moments, there was both good and bad.
“The first half was pretty good. I was really pleased with our ball control and the way we gave ourselves opportunities, and I thought we defended pretty good. But I thought we lost our way in the second half with the football, particularly. Defensively again, we stood up, but we’ve got to be better.”
Bennett made a couple of changes to the team he announced earlier in the week, opting to give full-back Stefan Ratchford and stand-off George Williams their first run-outs of the tournament. Ratchford came in for injured Jonny Lomax while hooker James Roby made way for Williams.
“Jonny Lomax hurt his calf muscle at training early in the week,” Bennett explained. “He’ll probably miss next week’s game [against France] but he should be back after that.
“I left James out because I wanted to give George Williams a game. I’ve got 24 players here. I’m trying to get them all a game before the quarter-finals.”
Bennett described the performance of stand-off Gareth Widdop as “good, bad and ugly” but praised the contribution of debutant Alex Walmsley and fellow front-rower Burgess from the bench. “I like what Alex brought tonight,” he said. “I thought him and Tom were very good.”
England captain Sean O’Loughlin said: “We came in pretty pleased at half-time but we didn’t finish the game off the way we wanted to. Lebanon asked a lot of questions of us.”
Meanwhile, Scotland coach Steve McCormack could not hide his disappointment after his side were crushed 74-6 by New Zealand.
They conceded 14 tries in Christchurch and have now leaked 124 points in their first two games, but will still reach the quarter-finals if they beat Samoa in their final group game next weekend.
The Scots, hammered 50-4 by Tonga in Cairns, trailed 28-0 at half-time and were 64-0 down when half-back Oscar Thomas scored their only try.
“It was a tough night,” McCormack said. “I’m really disappointed in that performance, although New Zealand were really good. In the first half, they had 21 or 22 offloads and played good football. We had no ball.” England: Tries Watkins, McGillvary, Hall, Currie, T Burgess. Goals Widdop 4. Drops Widdop. England Ratchford, McGillvary, Watkins, Bateman, Hall, Widdop, Gale, Hill, Hodgson, Graham, Currie, Whitehead, O’Loughlin. Subs Walmsley, Heighington, T Burgess, Williams. Lebanon: Tries Kassis, Wehbe. Goals Moses. Lebanon Abou-Sleiman, T Robinson, Maarbani, Doueihi, Miski, Moses, Farah, Mannah, Clark, Mamary, Twal, Ellaz, Kassis. Subs Lichaa, Moujali, Wehbe, Sukkar. Ref B Thaler (Wakefield).
‘Things happen in a split second on the field and you react. There is a bit of footage there. It’s pretty clear for everyone to see what happened on the replay’
Sore point: Robbie Farah complains about the alleged bite by Jermaine McGillvary (right)