Leeds winger Ryan Hall was among the try-scorers, taking his record tally for his country to 33 in 34 Tests as Wayne Bennett’s men eased their way to a predictable success on a cool, wet night in Sydney, in conditions that played into their hands.
England were far from impressive, however, and the match was marred by an allegation of biting levelled by Lebanon captain Robbie Farah against winger Jermaine McGillvary, another of the try-scorers.
Referee Ben Thaler did not punish the Huddersfield player but put the incident on report and it will be scrutinised by the tournament’s match-review panel on Monday.
It is the second alleged biting incident of the tournament, with Wales prop Ben Evans making an accusation against Papua New Guinea forward Wellington Albert that was not proven.
St Helens prop Alex Walmsley made a solid debut and Warrington second-rower Ben Currie scored his first try for his country while Bennett opted to give full-back Stefan Ratchford his third cap in the absence of an injured Jonny Lomax.
It looked fairly routine for England from the moment centre Kallum Watkins took Ratchford’s pass to cross for his 10th try for his country after nearly eight minutes of sustained pressure on the Lebanese line.
But the Cedars equalised after 17 minutes from their first meaningful attack, loose forward Nick Kassis touching down Farah’s grubber kick after Gareth Widdop had been deceived by the bounce of the ball.
Mitchell Moses added the goal and showed his class with a probing run that might have taken him all the way to the line but for some desperate defence by John Bateman.
At 6-6, the large Lebanese contingent among the 10,237 crowd began to sense an upset but reality quickly set in as England demonstrated the necessary patience to stamp their authority on the game.
Watkins displayed superb footwork to get around his opposite number and send McGillvary over for his seventh try in eight games and three minutes later left winger Hall took Bateman’s pass to squeeze in at the corner for his record-extending 33rd try.
England were able to retain possession and maintain the pressure as Lebanon began to lose their discipline. They extended their lead nine minutes before the break when hooker Josh Hodgson timed his pass to perfection to get Currie through a gap for his first try.
The highlight of the match came after 55 minutes when substitute prop Tom Burgess was put into a gap by fellow front-rower James Graham and his brothers Sam and George leapt to their feet as he charged 40 metres for a glorious try, sidestepping his way past full-back Daniel Abou-Sleiman on the way.
Instead of ramming home their superiority, England went into their shell and the Cedars pulled another try back five minutes from the end when substitute Jason Wehbe forced his way over.
McGillvary thought he had scored a second try, only to be recalled for a forward pass, and the only other score came on the hooter with a Widdop drop goal.