Lebanon coach Michael Cheika says he won't tempt fate by looking forward to a potential Rugby League World Cup quarter-final against Australia after using rugby union tactics to claim an ill-tempered 32-14 win over Ireland.
The Cedars are on the brink of a second consecutive quarter-final berth and can secure their passage with a win over minnows Jamaica next week.
Lebanon's victory at Leigh Sports Village on Sunday (Monday AEDT) means the Irish now face a near-impossible task of getting out of group C given they must beat heavyweights New Zealand.
But former Wallabies coach Cheika says dreaming of a last-eight meeting with Australia, who look certain to secure top spot in group C, would only serve to undo his side's good work.
"I'm a bit of a dampener. Unfortunately, I've been to too many of these things and it's not done until it's done," Cheika said.
"You think it's done and someone else will come and take it off you.
"I saw it when Fiji played against Uruguay in the (2019) Rugby World Cup, they (Fiji) thought they had it and Uruguay came and pinched it off them."
Shorn of Adam Doueihi due to suspension, Mitchell Moses steered the Lebanese to victory in a game where passions frequently boiled over.
NRL referee Adam Gee sent three players to the sin-bin with Ireland prop Robbie Mulhern and Lebanon lock Jalal Bazzaz going for a 10-minute breather after a skirmish on halftime.
Lebanon lost fullback Jacob Kiraz to a concussion and prop Kayne Kalache was sent to hospital after high contact from Ireland's Gold Coast prop Jaimin Jolliffe.
"I was highly disappointed about that whole thing, we got a player (Doueihi) sent off last week for supposedly saying something to the referee," Cheika said.
"Our guy (Kalache) takes a shot square to the head and nothing happens and he goes to hospital, so go figure."
Even without star playmaker Doueihi the Lebanese were a class above, frustrating the Irish with some tactics borrowed from the 15-a-side game with five ball-steals stifling Ireland's first-half rhythm.
"Fair play to Lebanon, they'd done their homework and they saw something in us that maybe I missed in terms of the ball steals," said Ireland coach Ged Corcoran.
"I still believe in the people I've got in there and I go into Friday with the full belief that we can get a result."
The Lebanese were 20-0 up with just over half an hour gone with tries from veteran Reece Robinson, Canberra's Brad Morkos and Kiraz.
Ireland winger Louis Senior grabbed a try either side of halftime to cut the deficit to 10 points but Lebanon pulled away soon after with tries from Parramatta forward Elie El-Zakham and Wigan winger Abbas Miski.
Centre Ed Chamberlain pulled one back in the dying moments despite teammate Liam Byrne being sin-binned for a late hit.