Wigan has won the World Club Challenge 22-6 over Cronulla and secured a Super League double against the NRL in the World Club Series.
Following Warrington’s victory over Brisbane on Saturday, the Warriors showed fantastic defensive resilience to shut the Sharks down and be crowned the best club team in the world in front of 21,011 fans.
The two wins from Super League sides will surely breathe some life into the World Club Series concept that had been heavily criticised after NRL clubs had won all six matches in the past two years.
Cronulla had an early opportunity when Sean O’Loughlin knocked on in the first set of the game. But an interception from Lewis Tierney saved their blushes.
A penalty soon after had them attacking the Sharks’ line and then Wigan caught their NRL opponents napping out wide with a tremendous finish from Joe Burgess.
Morgan Escare couldn’t convert but the Warriors had a precious 4-0 lead.
Pressure was back on the Super League champions as George Williams knocked on from the kick-off. Luke Lewis looked to have scored after getting there first to James Maloney’s bomb.
But the try was chalked off with Lewis ruled offside.
The Sharks indiscipline then started to cause them problems.
Wigan went further in front in the 24th minute through Burgess again. After a quick play the ball they spun the ball out wide and Burgess cut inside to grab his second try.
Escare added the extras to make it 10-0 as the rain started to pour down.
In the 31st minute Cronulla had another try ruled out. Kurt Capewell jumped high to take a kick but it was not given, somewhat controversially, with the ball just touching the line.
The Sharks kept pressing as they started to enjoy more possession but Wigan’s defence held firm.
Again and again Cronulla kept coming at them but the Warriors kept them out brilliantly to stay in front 10-0 at half-time. At the break the Sharks were behind 8-4 in the penalty count.
In the second half Wigan had the perfect start, bagging their third try five minutes in.
They went side to side, sweeping the ball left and then Oliver Gildart broke through on the edge to score. Escare made it 16-0.
Cronulla appeared rattled and started to force offloads, with their error-rate increasing.
Wigan rose to the occasion and their intensity was impressive. John Bateman was outstanding while George Williams was a handful.
And then in the 58th minute the Sharks finally broke through. Gerard Beale grabbed in behind and on debut winger Jesse Raimen grounded it for the try.
James Maloney converted it from the sideline for a 16-6 scoreline.
In the 69th minute Escare missed an attempt at a drop goal.
Tempers started to flare up in the 73rd minute minute after a shot on Sam Powell, from which Cronulla were penalised.
Right on full-time Burgess collected Williams kick to claim his hat-trick of tries for the afternoon.
It was the perfect finish for Wigan as they notched their fourth World Club Challenge trophy.