Tonga vs Lebanon Preview

Tonga are living on the belief that the final is a true possibility, and rightly so, beating New Zealand has sent the Kiwi's to the other side of the tournament tree. This means that if both Australia and New Zealand win their quarterfinals they will face each other in the semi's leaving a final spot wide open for the Tongan side, permitting they win their games. Before they can think about that though Tonga have to face Lebanon.

The Lebanese outfit have proven to be a very resilient side, their defence has been very good, considering they were not even tipped to survive the group stages. They are here and they have certainly earned it, their win over France proved to be the game that has got them across the line. The world seems to have developed a bit of a soft spot for Lebanon, they have displayed great passion and pride and the vibrant Lebanese community have celebrated every game like it was win, even if this could be the last game of their tournament there will be a lot celebrations and overall Lebanon shouldn't be disappointed with their performance.

Both sides have been criticized for their lack of native born players, it was well documented in the wake of Tonga's incredible victory, that only one player in the 17 was Tongan born, while the rest are heritage players. The same goes for Lebanon, people had a lot to say about the fact that the Lebanese team lacked "culture". It's ironic really that the players that have took the field for both sides have been some of the most passionate and proud players in this tournament so far. Both sets of coach's have ensured that the culture element of the game has been a key focal point in the journey to the quarterfinals.

Tonga: The Tongan's welcome back try scoring phenom Michael Jennings from injury. It's going to be a very much "as you were" performance from the Mate Ma'a, their forwards have really set the bar in this tournament; tons of minutes, lots of metres and even a few tries. This has given them fantastic field position regardless of who they have played against, the halves can then take control of the game and move the ball freely to the flanks where Tonga have seen so much luck. Lolohea and Hingano have been key so far, Lolohea was influential last week, scoring tries, making tries and controlling the tempo of the game, it was a near perfect halfback performance.

This game is going to be very much played at Tonga's pace, they will look to send the big men ripping through the middle, this will suit Lebanon as they are much a middle of the park side. Tonga will look to utilise second phase plays and lots of offloads to open up this game, they will look at applying plenty of pressure early on Moses and Farah in an attempt to disrupt their kicking game and limit attacking kicks.

Lebanon: Points conceded in this match will most likely see an end to Lebanon's tournament. The Lebanese have been nilled in their last two games, they need to be able to produce points against the world's elite in order to establish themselves as a top 10 side in the world. Their end product has lacked as they see chances go begging, most of the time they are struggling to make their opponents 40 metre line. Unfortunately for Lebanon their defence has done most of the work in most of their games and I get the feeling it will be the same again.

Lebanon need to slow the pace of the game down, if they allow Tonga play the match on their terms, this game is already lost. They are going to have to kick for touch a few times as well, this will allow their tired forwards to grab a quick breath and the team to set themselves ready for the next wave of Tongan offence, by doing this it takes Tonga's powerhouse wingers out of the game too.

Conclusion: This game is a fairly obvious conclusion for me, Tonga are going to dictate everything from start to finish, Lebanon will put up a good fight but ultimately the Tongan's will run riot. Tonga have this game by a minimum of 30 and will await the result of PNG vs England as to who they face in the semi-final.



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