England vs Lebanon Preview

The Cedars come into this game ahead of England in the group. Lebanon made a late points surge to earn a historical first World Cup win, they didn't make it easy for themselves though, a game full of errors would see them out as the lesser of two evils on this occasion. Lebanon did show great attacking flair, England will have highlighted key players from this performance, but at times the non-NRL stars hands did cost the Cedars good field position that could have turned into points. England spent most of their first half defending, and by some Jermaine Mcgilvary shaped miracle, only trailed by 6 points going into the half. England came out much better in the second 40, but still failed to register points against a well drilled Aussie side. England need this win and will need to clock up a decent amount of points too, as a Lebanon win sees them through, this would then turn next week's game against France into a quarter final play off.

England: England name a practically unchanged squad from last week, Currie fills in for the injured Sam Burgess in the second row and Super League's biggest metre maker, Alex Walmsley, gets a spot on the bench. England defensively were very sound, their problems came in attack, it seemed like every time they got to the Australian 20 they would just run out of ideas. It seems that England look to one up tactics close to the line, hoping a forward will just fall over the try line and ground the ball, they need to shift the ball to score points, one of the few times England did that, Mcgilvary crossed in the corner. Another issue England had is the halfbacks need to work together better, it looked like time and time again all England had was option plays left and right, yes this keeps teams on their toes but they are not effective as a structured set, as teams read that the ball will not come back the other way, allowing the defence to bunch and get 3 and 4 men at a time in the tackle. England will definitely utilise their forwards more in this game, Currie was very impressive in the time that he was on and I'm tipping him to have a really good game against Lebanon. James Graham gave everything he had; 163 metres and 42 tackles in his 58 minutes on the field, if he can can continue this he will really give England a platform to build on.

Lebanon: Lebanon were very good in attack, in particular Michael Lichaa, his attacking options were perfect from start to finish. That level of creativity is what is required to ask questions of this England team. For me their defence is what could let them down, last week Lebanon missed a total 35 tackles, this is going to have to be better to keep England out. Even in the tackles they were making, their failure to wrap the ball up would result in second phase play against a broken defence, if this issue is not ironed out, England will look to exploit this in their tactics. Mitchell Moses will be key, but he is also now a marked man, England will look to limit his impact on the game. The 23 year old was pivotal in last weeks win, he showed he was not afraid to take on the line and back himself, this gives the forwards a little breather which was very much required due to the heat. From the forwards I'm predicting Twal and Kassis will have another big game, they were a real driving force in attack making good ground on carries. Twal made 151 metres in his 60 minutes on the field, averaging out around 17 metres per drive. Kassis involved himself well, my only critique was his missed tackles, Kassis made 110 metres in his 63 minutes. Lebanon will also look to their veteran forward Tim Mannah to put in another good performance, Mannah made 167 metres averaging at 17 metres a run and 33 tackles in his 61 minute shift, his post contact metres were very good for the Cedars and they will no doubt look to Mannah to inspire the younger forwards in the side.

Conclusion: I feel England have the edge coming into this game, they are playing with a little fear, knowing a bad performance could spell the end of their tournament. Lebanon's defence rather than their attack is going to be the key to winning this game, if they can't frustrate England and keep them scoreless for the first 20 minutes, England will be forced to move the ball around more which will could lead to errors. Lebanon will play much more central when attacking, whereas England will be more expansive and look to use Mcgilvary and Hall to force themselves into the corner. Overall I see England taking this by a minimum of 20 points which will leave the 2nd and 3rd spots in the pool wide open.

Pom


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