Brett Morris scored a hat-trick to help Sydney Roosters become world champions as they edged Wigan 20-8 in the World Club Challenge.
Adrian Lam named an unchanged Wigan team to the one that beat Leeds Rhinos last week. Morgan Escare and Taulima Tautai were the two players to miss out of the 17-man matchday squad.
Adrian’s son, Lachlan, and Sitili Tupouniua missed out on selection for Trent Robinson’s Roosters.
Morris scored two tries in the first ten minutes to give the Roosters a 10-0 lead, before Tom Davies pulled one back for the Warriors.
Morris completed his hat-trick to hand the Australian side a 14-4 lead at half-time.
Sio Siua Taukeiaho added a penalty goal for the Roosters on the hour mark, before Liam Marshall brought the Warriors back into the game as they didn’t give up the fight.
Daniel Tupou sealed the 20-8 win for Sydney three minutes from time as he collected Luke Keary’s kick into the corner. The Roosters have taken the world champions tag from fellow NRL side Melbourne Storm.
Three talking points
Morris has still got it
Morris produced a very strong display in his first competitive game for the Roosters since his move from the Canterbury Bulldogs earlier in the off-season. He might be 32, but he is still as good as he was when he was 25.
It’s a shame the 32-year-old announced his retirement from representative rugby league in 2017 because he is still good enough to pull on the Australia and New South Wales jerseys, for sure.
Morris’ hat-trick in the space of 32 first half minutes put Sydney in a healthy lead at half-time and that was ultimately the difference. He is one difficult player to stop in a one-on-one tackle, as Oliver Gildart found out on multiple occasions.
Wigan are entertaining to watch
Wigan were really impressive with the ball in hand and they caused Sydney problems, with the likes of Sean O’Loughlin, George Williams and Tommy Leuluai standing out for the Warriors.
Lam has brought a free-flowing philosophy to the team, and it seems like he has given a couple of the players a free roaming role, which makes their style of play expansive.
Wigan’s wingers deserve a lot of credit as well. Marshall and Davies took countless carries in and worked hard to get their side out of yardage.
World Club Challenge needs to be stay
The 2019 World Club Challenge drew a crowd of over Wigan crowd of over 21,000, with the exception of a few Roosters.
There seems to be talk about the future of the World Club Challenge every single time the game comes around, but this fixture proved that there is an appetite for the World Club Challenge.
Wigan’s marketing team did a brilliant job in the build-up to the game by putting on a matchday bus service as well as touring the Super League, NRL and World Club Challenge trophies around the country. They deserve big plaudits for the show they put on.
In addition, Robinson showed respect to the competition fielding his strongest possible team, apart from Latrell Mitchell, who represented his Indigenous culture in the All Stars match against New Zealand Maori on Friday.
Line-ups & ratings:
Wigan: Hardaker (7); Davies (8), Gildart (6), Sarginson (7), Marshall (8); Williams (8), Leuluai (8); Clubb (7), Powell (7), Flower (7), Greenwood (7), Farrell (7), O’Loughlin (8). Subs: Navarrete (6), Isa (6), Hamlin (7), Bullock (6).
Tries: Davies, Marshall Goals: Hardaker 0/2
Sydney: Tedesco (8); Tupou (8), Manu (7), Morris (9), Ikuvalu (6); Keary (8), Cronk (8); Waerea-Hargreaves (7), Friend (8), Taukeiaho (7), Cordner (7), Aubusson (7), Radley (8). Subs: Liu (8), Tetevano (7), Collins (7), Butcher (7).
Tries: Morris (3), Tupou Goals: Taukeiaho 2/4, Tedesco 0/1
Sydney performed outstandingly well and were very well-structured going forward. Cooper Cronk and Luke Keary bossed the Roosters around the park and their kicking game was on point.
Unlike some of his Australian counterparts in recent years, it was good how Robinson treated the competition with so much respect and treated it as a massive game, like it should be. The Roosters embraced the opportunity of playing in England.
As for Wigan, they can be proud of their performance. The scoreline flattered the Roosters because it was a very tight game until Tupou’s 77th minute try.
Wigan’s halves – Williams and Leuluai – had their best game together in some time. Williams’ solo runs and strong defence against Sydney proves he is more than capable of smashing it in the NRL in the future.
Mitch Garbutt scored two tries to help Hull KR come from behind and beat Super League’s newcomers London Broncos 22-12 at the KCOM Craven Park.
A hat-trick from Jack Walker inspired Leeds Rhinos to claim their first win of the season. They were 46-14 victors against Salford Red Devils at the AJ Bell Stadium.