Wigan Warriors became the World Club Champions for the fourth time in the club’s history this Sunday, when they beat the 2016 NRL Premiers, Cronulla Sharks, 22-6 at the DW Stadium. On a wet day in Wigan, Shaun Wane’s men put on a great performance to win the illustrious World Club Challenge, not only for Wigan Warriors, but the whole of Super League.
BURGESS IS BACK
Joe Burgess would be the catalyst in Wigan’s World Club Challenge win, as the young winger would go over for a hat-trick of tries. The England international, was playing in his second competitive game after his return from the NRL. And after scoring a try last week at Salford, he would continue his streak with another three against the Shark’s.
Wigan fans must be bursting with excitement after seeing how well he is playing on his return. While it’s not a surprise, sometimes after returning, especially from a poor stint in the NRL, players come back with their confidence low and needing a few games to get back on track. However, Burgess has just continued from where he left off in 2015, when he was Wigan’s top try scorer. You would be a brave man to bet against him again this season.
A lot of pressure was on Burgess’ shoulders this year, with Josh Charnley departing the club and Dom Manfredi being out until later in the season. Wigan fans are looking to him for all the answers this season, and rightly so. With young Lewis Tierney stepping in on the other wing, it should be a great season for the pair, and Wigan won’t be short of points out wide.
A REAL BATTLE OF A FIRST HALF
The first half, while it wasn’t a great watch for rugby league quality, what with the wet conditions and countless errors. It was a real battle on the pitch. A battle between England and Australia, Super League and the NRL, Wigan Warriors and the Cronulla Sharks. It was a real crash bang wallop style game from the get go. There were big hits going in throughout, it was great to watch.
The first half was tough for both sides, but the relentless defence of Wigan was to be admired. They would sustain so much pressure, that evidently, they put on themselves through some poor errors in their own half. But they didn’t half make up for it with some exceptional defence. It wasn’t just defending as a team, there were moments when a single player would put his body on the line and make outstanding try saving tackle.
Wigan took their chances in the first half and would score two tries through Joe Burgess, which would give them a 10-0 lead going into halftime. You felt there was still a long way to go in this game, and Cronulla had more to give. Wigan fans was wary of the threat and the potential tiredness of the Warriors, having given so much in the first half.
DEFENCE OF CHAMPIONS
The second half was more open, and both sides started to swing the ball about and try to play some rugby. It was very tough in the wet and windy conditions and there were multiple handling errors in the game, which was to be expected. However, yet again, Wigan would capitalise on a chance and would go over for their third try of the game through Oliver Gildart, to stretch their lead to 16-0.
The game was starting the stir, and emotions were getting high as little bits of biff started on the field. Right on the hour mark, Cronulla would finally get over for their first try and points of the game, when Jesse Ramien would pounce on a neat kick through to give his side a fighting chance. With 20 minutes to go, the Wigan fans started to feel a tad nervous.
However, it wasn’t to be for the Sharks as Wigan would hold on strong, having multiple sets on their line, only to either force an error or stand strong and keep the NRL Premiers out. It was fantastic to see the passion, desire and drive to win this game, you could see how much it meant to them. Right on the hooter, Joe Burgess would put the cherry on top of the World Club Challenge when he went over for his hat-trick try to cap off a fantastic 22-6 win, and give Wigan their fourth World Club Challenge trophy.
2-0 TO THE SUPER LEAGUE
This result capped off a great two days for Super League. As on Saturday night, Warrington Wolves did themselves, and Super League proud by beating the Brisbane Broncos 27-18 in a fantastic game down at the Haliwell Jones Stadium. It was great to watch a Super League side battle and completely dominate an Australian side, the way the Wolves did.
There was huge pressure on Wigan’s shoulders after that, because if they didn’t win, it would’ve made for bad publicity, especially after Warrington winning the night before. However, that doesn’t matter now, as we now know that Wigan won and completed a clean sweep for the English sides for the first time since this World Club Series started.
It’s a huge result for the English game and one that will only help us throughout this season, and going into the World Cup. It gives us hope, and shows that we can beat the Australian’s and they’re not a million miles away from us, we’re getting better. Wigan are now the best rugby league side in the World, that is a fact, and no one can take it away from them.
Wigan Warriors head coach Shaun Wane told BBC Radio 5 live sports extra: “It’s a fantastic feeling and I’m so pleased. The staff work hard but the players do their business out on the park.
“We did too much defending. I’m trying to stay positive and not think about how we played. I’m just glad to get the win.
“One thing we’re good at in this country is looking for negatives. Let’s be positive. Tony Smith did a great job with Warrington on Saturday and we won fair and square. Let’s give Super League a pat on the back.”
Credit to BBC SPORT: http://www.bbc.co.uk/sport/rugby-league/38971535
Cronulla Sharks head coach Shane Flanagan: “Wigan played really well and I thought it was a good game of footy. I wasn’t happy with the refereeing, but Wigan took their opportunities and good luck to them.
“It’s a great experience to come over here and play. The hospitality we’ve been shown has been fantastic and the game’s in good shape when we can get games like this on in a packed stadium.
“We’ve had a great time. A lot of our players have never been to the UK and they’ll be better players for it.”
Credit to BBC SPORT: http://www.bbc.co.uk/sport/rugby-league/38971535
IN THE SHEDS
This was a real rough and tough affair. While there are no immediate injuries to report from either side, there were definitely a few heavy knocks taken.
There were a couple of moments when it got a bit tasty on field, but nothing too serious, and nothing that I see the RFL or NRL having a look at this week.
Wigan Warriors: (10) 22
Tries: Burgess 3, Gildart
Goals: Escaré 2/3, Powell 1/1
Cronulla Sharks: (0) 6
Goal: Maloney 1/1
Wigan Warriors: Escaré; Tierney, Gelling, Gildart, Burgess; Williams, Leuluai; Nuuausala, Powell, Flower, Bateman, Farrell, O’Loughlin.
Replacements: Tomkins, Clubb, Tautai, Sutton.
Cronulla Sharks: Beale; Ramien, Bird, Leutele, Capewell; Maloney, Townsend; Fifita, Brailey, Prior, Lewis, Graham, Gallen.
Replacements: Brown, Heighington, Bukuya, Tagataese.
Referee: Robert Hicks
Attendance: 21, 011
Venue: DW Stadium, Wigan
Date/Time: Sunday 19th February 2017 – 15:00pm GMT