Clinical Dragons rein in Wigan to claim global bragging rights

Wigan 15 St George Illawarra 21

Wigan narrowly failed to win the World Club Challenge for a fourth time, outgunned by the finishing power of the Australian champions and their Test winger, Brett Morris.

It was an enthralling match that could have gone either way, but Morris's strength near the line for his two tries summed up St George's determination, as did their defence when Wigan put them under pressure.

"Full credit to St George Illawarra," said Wigan's Australian coach, Michael Maguire. "They took their chances when they got them. That's why they're the team that they are."

For the fifth World Club Challenge in their history, Wigan were able to take what turned out to be an unsuccessful gamble on Martin Gleeson after a test on his hamstring, but were without Stuart Fielden – the veteran of three of these occasions in his Bradford days – with a flare-up of his knee trouble.

The main absentee for the Dragons was their illustrious coach, Wayne Bennett, back in Australia because of his mother-in-law's serious illness. They could not have played with any greater resolve if he had been sitting in the stand at the DW Stadium and keeping an eye on them.

In case the significance of the event was lost on Wigan, a parade of the team that won the trophy in 1987 – legendary names such as Ellery Hanley and Andy Gregory – hammered the point home.

That epic famously failed to produce a single try; almost 24 years later, it took less than two minutes.

Michael Weyman lost the ball in the tackle as he tried to run it out of his own territory. Wigan pounced and, at the end of that set of tackles, Paul Deacon launched a cross-field kick that saw George Carmont fly higher than anyone to catch and plant the ball down.

Deacon added the goal and then a 40-metre penalty after Nathan Fien went high on Andy Coley. The Dragons, without a warm-up game in their build-up, were showing every sign of being caught cold.

They were helped to settle, however, by a handling error by Gleeson, who gave up possession deep in the Wigan half. St George's ball-handling was clinical for Morris to go over in the corner for the first of his first-half double.

Some poor kicking was hampering Wigan's cause and they also gave away a cheap penalty for offside to set up Matt Cooper for the Dragons' second, with Jamie Soward this time converting to edge them ahead.

Deacon missed a kickable penalty before a spectacular second try from Carmont. Harrison Hansen put his pass on the floor, but the Samoan centre scooped it off his bootlaces to go 70 metres for probably the longest-range effort of his Wigan career.

Darius Boyd was giving Wigan no end of trouble with his incursions into the line and it was he who helped set up Morris for the equalising try, although it still took plenty of scoring through some heavy defence.

All square at half-time would have been a fair reflection of the action, but Sam Tomkins gave Wigan the slenderest of psychological advantages with a drop-goal on the stroke of the interval.

The loss of the struggling Gleeson forced Wigan into a reshuffle as the second half produced a series of pivotal – or potentially pivotal – moments.

The big one came when Darrell Goulding was agonisingly close to picking off an interception from Boyd that would have given him a fighting chance of going to the other end and scoring.

Instead, the ball came off his fingertips, St George took possession from the scrum and their 19-year-old reserve hooker, Cameron King, darted in from dummy half, at the expense of a torn pectoral muscle.

Joel Tomkins, in Gleeson's centre role, made try-saving tackles on Cooper and Morris as the Dragons threatened to seal it. They settled instead for a Soward drop-goal that still had the effect of putting them a converted try ahead.

Wigan's best chance of overturning that came when Sam Tomkins was obstructed chasing his own kick and the Warriors battered the St George try-line for two sets of tackles.

It all came to nothing as Saints held firm and Amos Roberts passed into touch, as it did when Carmont made one last break, but Liam Farrell could not take his inside pass.

"I'm extremely proud of my players," said Maguire. "They worked extremely hard right to the death. It shows that there's not much between the two competitions at the top level."

St George's stand-in coach, Steve Price, spoke on the phone from the dressing rooms to Bennett, who declared himself well pleased with their defensive effort. When you tackle like they did and have finishers like Morris in the side, the world is your stage.

Wigan: S Tomkins; Goulding, Gleeson, Carmont, Roberts; Deacon, Leuluai; Prescott, McIlorum, Coley, Hansen, Hoffman, O'Loughlin. Substitutes used J Tomkins, Farrell, Tuson, Mossop.

St George Illawarra: Boyd; Morris, Cooper, Gasnier, Nightingale; Soward, Hornby; Hunt, Fien, Weyman, Scott, Creagh, Prior. Substitutes used Greenfield, Merrin, Green, King.

Referee T Alibert (France)

Attendance 24,268.

Arts and Entertainment
The Doctor and Clara have their first real heart to heart since he regenerated in 'Deep Breath'
TV
Life and Style
Apple showed no sign of losing its talent for product launches with the new, slightly larger iPhone 6 making headlines
techSecurity breaches and overhyped start-ups dominated a year in which very little changed (save the size of your phone)
Arts and Entertainment
Jamie Oliver
filmTV chef Jamie Oliver turned down role in The Hobbit
News
The official police photograph of Dustin Diamond taken after he was arrested in Wisconsin
peopleDownfall of the TV star charged with bar stabbing
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Jeremy Clarkson, left, and Richard Hammond upset the locals in South America
tvReview: Top Gear team flee Patagonia as Christmas special reaches its climax in the style of Butch and Sundance
News
people
Sport
Ashley Barnes of Burnley scores their second goal
footballMan City vs Burnley match report
Arts and Entertainment
Peter Mayhew as Chewbacca alongside Harrison Ford's Han Solo in 'Star Wars'
film
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Man of action: Christian Bale stars in Exodus: Gods and Kings
film
Arts and Entertainment
Tracy Emin's 1998 piece 'My Bed' on display at Christie's
artOne expert claims she did not
News
Ernesto Che Guevara and Fidel Castro, right, met at Havana Golf Club in 1962 to mock the game
newsFidel Castro ridiculed the game – but now investment in leisure resort projects is welcome
News
Hackers revealed Oscar-winning actress Lawrence was paid less than her male co-stars in American Hustle
people
Arts and Entertainment
Clueless? Locked-door mysteries are the ultimate manifestation of the cerebral detective story
booksAs a new collection of the genre’s best is published, its editor explains the rules of engagement
Sport
Robin van Persie is blocked by Hugo Lloris
footballTottenham vs Manchester United match report
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

A timely reminder of the bloody anniversary we all forgot

A timely reminder of the bloody anniversary we all forgot

Who remembers that this week we enter the 150th anniversary year of the end of the American Civil War, asks Robert Fisk
Homeless Veterans appeal: Former soldiers pay their respects to a friend who also served

Homeless Veterans appeal

Former soldiers pay their respects to a friend who also served
Downfall of Dustin 'Screech' Diamond, the 'Saved By The Bell' star charged with bar stabbing

Scarred by the bell

The downfall of the TV star charged with bar stabbing
Why 2014 was a year of technological let-downs

Why 2014 was a year of technological let-downs

Security breaches and overhyped start-ups dominated a year in which very little changed (save the size of your phone)
Cuba's golf revolution: But will the revolutionary nation take 'bourgeois' game to its heart?

Will revolutionary Cuba take 'bourgeois' golf to its heart?

Fidel Castro ridiculed the game – but now investment in leisure resort projects is welcome
The Locked Room Mysteries: As a new collection of the genre’s best is published, its editor Otto Penzler explains the rules of engagement

The Locked Room Mysteries

As a new collection of the genre’s best is published, its editor explains the rules of engagement
Amy Adams on playing painter Margaret Keane in Tim Burton's Big Eyes

How I made myself Keane

Amy Adams hadn’t wanted to take the role of artist Margaret Keane, because she’d had enough of playing victims. But then she had a daughter, and saw the painter in a new light
Ed Richards: Parting view of Ofcom chief. . . we hate jokes on the disabled

Parting view of Ofcom chief... we hate jokes on the disabled

Bad language once got TV viewers irate, inciting calls to broadcasting switchboards. But now there is a worse offender, says retiring head of the media watchdog, Ed Richards
A look back at fashion in 2014: Wear in review

Wear in review

A look back at fashion in 2014
Ian Herbert: My 10 hopes for sport in 2015. Might just one of them happen?

Ian Herbert: My 10 hopes for sport in 2015

Might just one of them happen?
War with Isis: The West needs more than a White Knight

The West needs more than a White Knight

Despite billions spent on weapons, the US has not been able to counter Isis's gruesome tactics, says Patrick Cockburn
Return to Helmand: Private Davey Graham recalls the day he was shot by the Taliban

'The day I was shot by the Taliban'

Private Davey Graham was shot five times during an ambush in 2007 - it was the first, controversial photograph to show the dangers our soldiers faced in Helmand province
Revealed: the best and worst airlines for delays

Revealed: the best and worst airlines for delays

Many flyers are failing to claim compensation to which they are entitled, a new survey has found
The stories that defined 2014: From the Scottish independence referendum to the Ice Bucket Challenge, our writers voice their opinions

The stories that defined 2014

From the Scottish independence referendum to the Ice Bucket Challenge, our writers voice their opinions
Stoke-on-Trent becomes first British city to be classified as 'disaster resilient' by the United Nations

Disaster looming? Now you know where to head...

Which British city has become the first to be awarded special 'resilience' status by the UN?