Sport

Lebanon in sevens heaven

Sawtell Panthers captain-coach, Craig Wallace in action during the Orara Valley Sevens tournament.
Sawtell Panthers captain-coach, Craig Wallace in action during the Orara Valley Sevens tournament.

By BRAD GREENSHIELDS

DESPITE holding the mantle of reigning title holders, Lebanon went into yesterday's final of the Orara Valley Axemen's sevens tournament as underdogs in the eyes of experts and spectators alike.

All weekend Fiji Bati had played attractive football that left fans breathless with awe and opponents eating dust.

But given a hard final after two days of non-stop football when things really start to get tough and participants are asked to dig deep, it was the pure grit of the Lebanese team that got them over the line 24-22 in a thriller.

Cedars coach Darren Maroon knew there was one main ingredient that got his team the winners trophy and he was left inspired by the character of his young team.

"They've got very big hearts these boys," Maroon said in admiration.

"I think it's their will to do what they have to do, there's some good will there, Samer El Masri played with a torn cartilage from yesterday.

"They're a very tight knit group, they've got a will together and they sit together, they're like brothers and it showed in the end."

In the second half of the final, Lebanon were leading 24-12 under the warm summer sun but had to show courage to muscle up when the Bati threw one last challenge at them.

With a minute to go the island nation got to within two points but ran out of time as they tried to overhaul their tiring opponents.

Maroon admitted to a few heart palpitations in the final moments of the match but he always had faith that his boys would get the money in the end.

"I think a lot of the time everyone knocks up in footy," he said.

"It's what you do when you're tired that makes the difference and these boys just had the bigger desire I felt.

"If you know anyone in senior management for the NRL or anything, get them down to come watch some good young players.

"If they're interested in bolstering the strength of their club, these blokes should be there."

The disappointment on the faces of the Fijians could not disguised having come so close.

Speed merchants Max Bainivalu and Marika Koronui both claimed try scoring doubles but it wasn't quite enough to claim first prize.

"The boys seemed to be very tired so they tended to switch off in their mentality but I really praise the boys for fighting for their country," manager Rusi Ratakele said.

"We can get Lebanon next year, we'll now look at our DVD and work on our weaknesses. The main one we found was where the players tend to lose communication in defence."

The Lebanese celebrated with gusto when the final whistle was blown and their coach feels it's because the team's not only tight knit but because the achievement of winning was even bigger this time around.

"It was a lot harder this year, the competition was a much better competition as far as the calibre of player was concerned and the way it was run was enormous," Maroon explained.

"It's really hard to explain how I feel right now but their performance this year superseded last year by 10 lengths for the mere reason that the pressure that was on this young team because our best players didn't come to be honest but now we've got a double strength side."

SEVENS FINAL

LEBANON 24 (John Geaves 2, Toufic Nicholas, Fred Kloviss, Jason Stanton, Trent Tumo tries) d FIJI BATI 22 (Max Bainivalu 2, Marika Koronui 2, Ioware Divavesi tries; Divavesi goal).



Digging deep for National Tree Day

GREEN THUMBS: Jetty Dunecare volunteers ready for National Tree Day.

Digging deep for National Tree Day

Camping on agenda

GETTING OUTDOORS: Coffs Harbour City Council are investigating possible land packages that could be designated for RVs and self-sustainable vehicles.

Camping on agenda

Cops swoop on car in Coffs

HANDS ON: Police scour a Holden Rodeo in Coffs Harbour.

Vehicle search in Coffs CBD leads to multiple arrests

Latest deals and offers

Talking whiskey with Jack Daniel’s master distiller

It all comes down to the distillery

SIXTY MILES AHEAD sign with Eclipse Records, prepare new album 'Insanity'

Sixty Miles Ahead sign with Eclipse. Photo Contributed

Sixty Miles Ahead to release new album on Eclipse

Thy Art Is Murder are killing it

See Thy Art is Murder on their killer tour happening right now. Photo Contributed

We talk with Thy Art is Murder about touring, babies, and new music

Date announced for Prince tribute concert

A Prince tribute concert will take place later this year

Matt Damon is taking a break from acting

Matt Damon is taking a break to spend time with his family

Police foiled terrifying 1m plot to kidnap Katie Price

Police foiled a £1 million plot to kidnap Katie Price and her family

Queensland's $1 town goes under the hammer today

The township of Yelarbon is up for sale.

Unprecedented auction of town's business centre with no reserve

Work starts on $15M Caloundra apartment building

Turning the first sod at the Aqua View Apartments site in Kings Beach are (from left) husband-and-wife developers Alex Yuan and Stella Sun with construction company Tomkins director Mike Tomkins and Councillor Tim Dwyer.

Developers excited about addition to Kings Beach skyline

Plans revealed for 1500-lot 'master-planned community'

Precinct will be bounded by Boundary St and Shoesmith Rd

Ecco Ripley sales run sparks prime release

MOVING IN: Sekisui House has announced the release of more residential blocks at Ecco Ripley.

Sekisui House is preparing to unveil more land at Ecco Ripley

A home rich in history looking for a new owner

HISTORY: The circa 1920s home is being sold for the first time in 90 years.

Circa 1920s home being sold for the first time in 90 years