Australia's David Fifita of Australia is tackled by the PNG defence at the World Cup Nines at Bankwest Stadium, Sydney on Saturday. Picture: Brendon Thorne/AAP
Australia's David Fifita of Australia is tackled by the PNG defence at the World Cup Nines at Bankwest Stadium, Sydney on Saturday. Picture: Brendon Thorne/AAP

Australia, NZ, England and Samoa make WC Nines semis

AUSTRALIA have booked a semi-final date with Samoa while New Zealand will face England in the World Cup nines knockouts after a dramatic day at Bankwest Stadium.

The Kangaroos wrapped up their finals spot with a 26-0 flogging of Papua New Guinea, joining Samoa as the only team to go through the group stage undefeated.

They will enter the finals with the best attacking record - 92 points - and the best defence, having conceded just 23 points.

But the story of the first half of the day was Lebanon, who sprung a massive upset by beating England 16-13 before being told they couldn't field two players in their must-win match with Wales as they were underage.

The news broke less than an hour before Lebanon took the field and they were heavily beaten 25-14 without one of their standout players, 17-year-old Jacob Kiraz.

Under NRL rules, players must be 18 to take the field but international laws have dictated the minimum age is 16.

The nines is an international event run by the NRL and it's believed team management had been warned on Thursday the players were too young.

England then thumped France 38-4 to take top spot in the group and set up a likely semi-final showdown with Australia on Saturday night.

It was a cruel end to Lebanon's run after they entered the tournament without their biggest names following a boycott against the country's board.

"We played everyone in the game that was over 18 and we weren't good enough," Cedars coach Rick Stone said.

"We were a little bit tired. We lacked a little bit of zip and energy in that game."

Samoa then secured their spot when they beat Pacific Island rivals Tonga 24-22, ending a poor tournament for the powerful Pacific nation.

They won just one match against the equally disappointing Fiji and even that could only be decided in extra time when Robert Jennings scored a golden try.

The Bati, meanwhile, finished their tournament winless, upset by the Cook Islands 12-10 to end a sorry campaign after they entered the weekend as possible dark horses.

New Zealand had earlier avoided a massive upset that would have bumped them out of the tournament, when Bailey Simmonsen scored in the last minute to beat PNG 18-17.

Australia also had a rocky start against the USA earlier in the afternoon, falling 11-4 behind before coming back to win 41-11.

News Corp Australia

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