Overcoming a fiery and committed Lebanese side, England did enough to win as they took the match out 29-10 at the Sydney Football Stadium.
Controversy has seemed to find its way into this Rugby League World Cup and this affair was no different, as English winger Jermaine McGillvary was placed on report for an alleged biting incident.
McGillvary could now face a nervous wait after Farah made an official on-field complaint to the referees, with video footage suggesting he could be in some trouble.
First points went the way of the English after a swift back-line movement ended in a try to Kallum Watkins.
Lebanon would hit back soon after, though, as the slippery conditions resulted in an English error before Nick Kassis pounced to score.
Despite Lebanon’s best efforts and some close calls, a flurry of tries late in the first half gave the English a 16-point buffer at the break.
A further controversial moment came when Ryan Hall scored. Replays suggested that he had lost control of the ball in the act of diving under pressure to ground the ball but the video referee ruled otherwise and deemed it a try.
A barnstorming run and try to Thomas Burgess, who sidestepped Lebanon fullback Daniel Abou-Sleiman with ease, proved to be England’s last.
Following that try, errors and poor decisions creeped into the game of both sides as a Gareth Widdop field goal late on sealed the 29-10 win.
England coach Wayne Bennett did not mince his words post-game; his side were poor and he lamented their finish to the game.
“I thought we lost our way in the second half with the football in particular,” Bennett said after the win.
“These games are difficult because you’re expected to win and nobody knows by how much. For us, a part of our journey is to be consistent and it’s not good enough.
“We’re not a good enough team where we can turn it off and turn it back on.
“We’ve got to keep it on all the time and did until half-time and then lost our way.”
Lebanon may have lost the game but captain and veteran Robbie Farah praised his side for their heart, determination and commitment.
As captain I can’t be more proud of the effort they put in,” Farah said after the game.
“We’ve spent two weeks together and didn’t even go into camp leading into the French game.
“We had guys shoot off to work in between training sessions and the majority of our team are park footballers.
“So when you’re coming up against world class players and a team that is ranked third in the world, we definitely didn’t embarrass ourselves.”
Player of the Game:
3. Jermaine McGillvary
2. Ben Currie
- Thomas Burgess
England 29 (Kallum Watkins, Jermaine McGillvary, Ryan Hall, Ben Currie, Tom Burgess tries; Gareth Widdop 4 goals; Gareth Widdop 1 field goal) defeated Lebanon 10 (Nick Kassis, Jason Wehbe tries; Mitchell Moses 1 goal) at the Sydney Football Stadium. Half-time: England 22-6. Crowd: 10,237.