Omar Marhaba, George Yazbeck
Hassan Zakzouk, Liam McGraith, Farid Adbulwahab
Ibrahim Raad 0/2
Zander Potgieter 1/3
MENA U16 CHAMPIONSHIP GAME 3
Saudi Schools Select retained the MENA U16 Championship in as dramatic a fashion as they'd won the inaugural trophy, last year. With both sides nip and tuck, and with the score locked at 4-4 at the break, and 8-8 for much of the second half, the visitors' stand-out performer, Farid Abdulwahab, forced his own will on the game - and the tournament. Two successive penalties piggy-backed the white-and-greens down field and as head coach Dave Kinkead screamed for a shot at goal Abdulwahab tapped and charged through Lebanon's exhausted boys to score with under two minutes remaining.
Watched by the Australian ambassador, His Excellency Lex Bartlem OAM, who awarded the victorious Camels the trophy, the Saudis celebrated their gripping win as the devastated Junior Cedars were forced to reflect on what might have been for the second consecutive year.
Omar Marhaba, Lebanon's best over the course of the tournament, opened the scoring on eight minutes, before Saudi co-captain Hassan Zakzouk levelled matters. In the second half the visitors pulled out in front before another of Lebanon's excellent forwards, George Yazbek, equalised.
Saudi head caoch Dave Kinkead was understandably proud of his sdei's achievement: "It's a great testament to the hard work of all the players and coaches in Saudi that we have been able to defend the MENA U16 Championship and bring the trophy back to Jeddah. The standard of rugby is improving and it's pleasing to see these players really develop over th last few years."
Rayan Tout, the Junior Cedars Head coach said, “We have a nice rivalry with these guys. Each time we play, the game is more physical than the last and the score is always close. Our forwards played particularly well, dominating set pieces, and our backs moved the ball around them. All round, our team did great. I feel sorry for our boys but I am so proud of the effect they showed and good luck to the KSA boys, they were very good too.”
His Excellency Lex Bartlem commented, “It is wonderful to see how Rugby League, a sport close to the hearts of many Australians, has developed in Lebanon since it was first introduced here in 2002. Sport is not only one of the easiest ways to develop strong cultural links between people and countries; it is also one of the most effective ways to develop character, leadership, cultural tolerance, and understanding among youth. I am please to support Rugby League in Lebanon.”
LEBANON JR CEDARS
Ali Kang, Nour El Baba, Liam Chedrawi, Mohamad Hamawi, Daniel Habbal, Ibrahim Raad, George Yazbeck, Khaled Masri, Ayman Sultan, Omar Marhaba, Mahmoud el Hassan, Carl Baroud. Subs: George Farah, Karim Tannir, Ayman Akel, Imad Arnaout
SAUDI SCHOOLS SELECT
Waleed Mufti, Liam McGraith, Daley Herselman, Yusef Safadi, Hassan Sharbatly, Zander Potgieter, Ahmad El Obeid, Hisham Nassar, Hassan Zakzouk, Omer Rathore, Samer Balla, Farid Abdul Wahab, Rackan Al Moukhtar. Subs: Tommy Adbullah, Michael Van Greunen