Unlikely lads depart with pride and parity

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The Independent Online

An extraordinary finish gave both sides something they deserved, their first point from their first World Cup. In the process, two unlikely participants also gave the tournament one of its most memorable games at Cardiff yesterday.

An extraordinary finish gave both sides something they deserved, their first point from their first World Cup. In the process, two unlikely participants also gave the tournament one of its most memorable games at Cardiff yesterday.

With seven minutes to play, the Cook Islands had it won. Steve Berryman had just gone over for his second try for a 12-point lead and Richard Piakura had a simple conversion to confirm victory. But the full-back missed and Lebanon roared back to snatch the draw.

Their outstanding forward, Sami Chamoun stood in the tackle to lay on a try for Hassan Saleh, converted by Hazem El Masri to bring them within striking range. In the last minute, George Katrib spilt the ball but it went straight to El Masri, who squirmed over and then landed the goal to share the points.

The Cook Islanders were forced to defend for long periods but capitalised on the little possession they did have, with first-half tries from Leroy Joe, Berryman and Tiri Toa. The Lebanese scored just once, through Travis Touma, but the game seemed to be swinging their way early in the second half when El Masri's interception try brought them within range.

COOK ISLANDS: Piakura (Ngatanglia/ Matavera); Toa (Ngatanglia/Matavera), Lewis (Auckland), Iro (St Helens), Temata (Hibiscus Coast); Bowen (Brisbane Wests), Joe (Whitehaven); Tuakura (Mangere East), Clarke (Cessnock Goannas), Temu (Newcastle), Samuels (Workington), Pau (Ponsonby Ponies), Berryman (Wellington). Substitutes used: Andersson (Calounpra), Shepherd (Ngatanglia/ Matavera), Ruaporo (Canberra), Cook (Wynnum Manly).

LEBANON: Chahal (Sydney Bulls); Abas (Sydney Bulls), H Saleh (Canterbury), H El Masri (Canterbury), Touma (Sydney Bulls); Stanton (Enna), S El Masri (Sydney City); Maroon (Unattached), N Saleh (Canterbury), Chamoun (Sydney Bulls), Salem (Western Suburbs), Tamer (Unattached), Daher (Cabramatta). Substitutes used: Khoury (Canterbury), Lichaa (Sydney City), Katrib (Sydney Bulls), Nohra (Sydney Bulls).

Referee: B Shrimpton (New Zealand).

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