Today some news from the MENA championships which is featuring Morocco and Lebanon. Lebanon have announced their team for the upcoming series. Also a wrap up of round 3 in the AMNRL.
Lebanon’s 20-man MENA Championship squad has been released on the eve of interim head coach Thierry Dumaine’s arrival from France into Beirut, where he will conduct a week-long training camp before the squad departs for Casablanca.
Ten members of the 2010 Cedars that claimed the inaugural MENA Championship are retained. They are joined by experienced back rows Ghassan Dandach and Ahmad El Masri, both of whom are recalled after missing the 2010 representative season. Added to that core of seasoned players are West Sydney University halfback Hilal Kaarali, who has been in Lebanon for a month now, and former Western Suburbs forward Allen Soultan, who re-joined Balamand, the team he spent three seasons with as a teenager, earlier this season.
“It’s a strong squad filled with experience so Lebanon should be able to produce two good performances in Morocco,” said LRLF Chief Executive Officer Remond Safi. “The players are keen to get working with Thierry Dumaine for one week of high quality preparation.”
Traditionally strong in the middle of the park, Lebanon’s strike power has been lessened by the unavailability of LAU three-quarters Mohamed Jamil, Bahije Saridar and Mazen Kneo, although LAU fullback Walid Yassine provides quality at the back.
The forwards will be directed by one of a quintet of uncapped players, Balamand’s Samer Nehmeh. One of the brightest dummy-half prospects Lebanon has unearthed, the 19-year-old should make history by becoming the first Lebanese schools rugby league product to take the field for the national team.
“Following the MENA Championship Thierry will be able to compile a detailed dossier on which Lebanon coach David Bayssari can assess which local players are selected for the world cup qualifiers this autumn,” added Safi.
Lebanon plays Morocco XIII on 29 June and 2 July in Berrechid, a suburb of Casablanca.
Kamal Ali, Paul Khauli (AUB); Ahmad El Masri (AUST); Michael Elias, Riad Khoury, Sami Mansur, Samer Nehmeh, Gaeton Osman, Allen Soultan (Balamand); Ghassan Dandach, Youssef Helou, Pierre Nasr (Jounieh RLFC) Ibrahim Ballout, Robin Hachache, Rudy Hachache, Jad Hachem, Walid Yassine (LAU Immortals RLFC); Hilal Kaarali (West Sydney University); Monir Finan, Nemer Saliba (Wolves RLFC)
The New York Knights have found themselves perched delicately at the top of the American National Rugby League table after round three. Earning bonus points in every game so far this year has seen the Knights trump the Sharks, Raiders and Wildcats, who also have 2-1 records.
The Knights dominated the Aston Bulls in the first game of a doubleheader at Pier 40 in Manhattan, winning 64-14. Nigel Tara was the star of the show scoring 26 individual points, which included three tries and seven conversions.
The Knights led at halftime 32-4 and were able to keep the pressure on throughout the second half, capping off yet another impressive performance in front of their home crowd. The Northern Raiders grabbed their second straight win, beating the Delaware Vipers 20-8 in the second game of the doubleheader in New York.
The Raiders went into the game with their chief playmaker, Dan Fullarton, out with a finger injury. Fullarton watched from the sideline as his fellow Australian expat, Matt Vautin, tore shreds through the Vipers defense. The talented fullback bagged three tries in the first half pegging the Vipers on the back foot. Delaware scored a spectacular try in the first half off a kick, but went into the sheds at halftime, down by two tries.
The Raiders have proven to be the most consistent defensive team so far this season. Captain Joel Venables praised Paolo Reis for the leading the defense line and gave a special mention to rugby league debutant Mike Sasano. Sasano, a rugby union convert, came off the bench for the Raiders and proved a tower of strength in defense.
Venables attributes much of the Raiders stability to the Rockland Rogues Rugby Club, “We have a roster of 25 strong each week and with the Rogues connection we have been able to get quality players like Danny Shea and Mike Lynch, it’s great to have so much depth,” Venables said.
The Vipers tightened up their defense for the second half and managed to keep the second half score to 4-all. Leslie Alovili scored the fourth try for the Raiders while Brandon Craig and Joe Kellar were the try-scorers for the Vipers.
Other honorable mentions for the Raiders go to the Long Island boys; led by hooker Matt Reilly, they have shown consistency so far this season. The Raiders will await the return of the injured Fullarton and coupled with the inclusion of another Australian, player and coach Adam Shaw, they will look to build momentum through to the second half of the season.
The Bucks County Sharks and Connecticut Wildcats met at Shark Park in Levittown, PA, in an encounter that was set to gauge just how well each team is travelling. The Cats, led by a very talented Australian trio, proved that they are by far the superior team at this stage of the season, winning 66-22.
Connecticut ran in 12 tries and converted nine in what was an impressive performance playing away from home. After the loss to the Knights last week, the Cats were hungry for blood and showed great intensity in the first half, finishing the first 40 minutes up by 28-8.
Their defense loosened slightly in the second half, but the Wildcats found their rhythm in offense, piling on another 38 points in the second stanza. Sharks leader, Phil Shipos said they could take some positives away from the game, “When we had the ball, we had a very high completion rate and secondly, we’ve now taken notice of where our weaknesses are at this point of the season and look to strengthen prior to our next game versus the Raiders.”
Shipos was a shining light for the Sharks, exposing the Connecticut defense and scoring two tries. Other notable efforts for the Sharks were by Ryan Sodano and brand new British import Sam Connor. Round four is shaping up to be an exciting round in the AMNRL, with the Raiders out for revenge against the Sharks after going down 32-10 in round one.
Also the first doubleheader of the year for the Hawaii expansion kicks off at Pearl City HS Stadium in Oahu.
Daniel Andruczyk’s email: email@example.com
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