Penrith 12-13 St Helens: Five takeaways as Saints claim historic World Club Challenge title
It was almost a repeat of the World Cup heartbreak for England fans, but Lewis Dodd held his nerve to kick the winning drop-goal in golden point extra time for St Helens to claim a 13-12 victory over Penrith. Here are our five takeaways from the tie…
St Helens defy the odds once again
St Helens denied the odds once again, going into the game as underdogs but doing what they do best. In a low-scoring affair, it was their defensive display that impressed, while Jack Welsby and Konrad Hurrell crossed for four-pointers.
Penrith took the game to golden point extra time with a last-minute Brian To’o try, but Dodd kicked the match-winner to claim the title.
It’s the club’s third world championship following competitions wins in 2001 and 2007, both of which came over Brisbane. Paul Wellens also featured in both victories!
It takes their total tally alongside Melbourne, Bradford and Leeds. They become only the second Super League side to win in Australia. Wigan last achieved the feat in 1994 against Brisbane.
The triumph puts any doubts to Paul Wellens’ appointment – if there were any. The former assistant was also joined by a familiar face in the coach’s box, with ex-boss Kristian Woolf present.
Welsby showed his class throughout the game.
He went from try-scorer to try-saver early in the first half. The St Helens full-back scoring the first of the clash before denying Penrith half-back Nathan Cleary over the line.
The England international opened the scoring, supporting a long-range break from back-rower Curtis Sironen. Welsby also assisted his side’s second, providing the pass for centre Hurrell to crash his way over.
His tackle on Cleary was one to be enjoyed, too. The 21-year-old showing his strength to hold up Australia star Cleary and force the mistake.
He went on to also deny To’o in the first 40 as St Helens kept Penrith scoreless in the first half.
Welsby is contracted to St Helens until the end of 2025, but there’s no doubt he would have caught the attention of plenty of NRL clubs.
He also won the player of the match in Australia.
St Helens’ defence was one to be admired, denying Penrith any points in the first half. The Panthers threw lots at their Super League opposition, especially out-wide.
Only a last-minute drop at the back allowed Penrith back into the game, but it was a fair effort from the Saints in humid weather.
Penrith just can't get through this @Saints1890 defence 🛡#C4League | #WorldClubChallenge pic.twitter.com/Fz3zRzVY7B
— Channel 4 Sport (@C4Sport) February 18, 2023
Dodd’s dream comeback
Dodd held his nerve to win the game, having seen his first drop-goal attempt penalised due to a wall of St Helens players.
The half-back suffered a season-ending injury last April, and only returned to action this year, first appearing in Mark Percival’s testimonial against Widnes.
It’s a dream competitive return for Dodd, winning twice in Australia and kicking the winner.
What about the weather!
After pushing the game back due to the high temperatures, it was then the rain that poured down in Penrith!
Lightening, thunder and rainbows. Supporters inside the ground had it all. The return to action for the second 40 was delayed by a few minutes due to the weather.
It was reported that more than a thousand St Helens fans supporters travelled Down Under to cheer on their history-making side – and weren’t they rewarded!
A total attendance of 13,873 at the Bluebet Stadium.
How it happened
- 8’ Jack Welsby scores the first try of the World Club Challenge. A 70 metre break, with Curtis Sironen racing away before feeding Welsby in support. Tommy Makinson converts. (0-6)
- 17’ Konrad Hurrell crashes over on his return to Australia. He was too powerful for the Penrith defence so close to the line. Makinson misses. (0-10)
- 38′ Confirmation that Makinson will miss the rest of the clash due to a HIA.
- HT: Penrith 0-10 St Helens
- 43′ Mark Percival kicks a penalty to extend the lead. (0-12)
- 52’ Nathan Cleary assists Penrith’s first points with a kick as Izack Tago scores. Cleary converts. (6-12)
- 71′ Jonny Lomax missed a drop-goal attempt.
- 76′ Dodd’s first drop-goal attempt is penalised for a wall of blocking St Helens players.
- 78′ Brian To’o scores thanks to a mistake at the back for St Helens. Cleary levels the scores. (12-12)
- Extra time: Lewis Dodd kicks the winning golden point extra time drop-goal!
- FT: Penrith 12-13 St Helens
How they lined-up
Penrith: Crichton, May, Tago, Turuva, To’o, Luai, Cleary, Leota, Fisher-Harris, Garner, Hosking, Yeo. Bench: Cogger, Eisenhuth, Leniu, Salmon, Smith.
Tries: Tago, To’o. Goals: Cleary 2/2
St Helens: Welsby, Makinson, Percival, Hurrell, Hopoate, Lomax, Dodd, Walmsley, Roby, Lees, Mata’utia, Sironen, Knowles. Bench: Lussick, LMS, Paasi, Wingfield, Bell.
Tries: Welsby, Hurrell. Goals: Makinson 1/2, Percival 1/1. DG: Dodd 1
What they said
Match-winner Dodd said post-match: “”Everyone wrote us off all week. We knew how big of a challenge it was. I’m just so proud of these boys. It’s a dream for me coming in and working with these boys every day. I’m just so proud, it’s unbelievable.”
WATCH: St Helens show Super League class with first World Club Challenge try
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