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Wigan Warriors 15-21 St George Illawarra Dragons

27 February 11 21:01 GMT

St George Illawarra held on to win the World Club Challenge for the first time with a comeback victory over Wigan.

The Warriors made the perfect start, going 8-0 ahead within the first four minutes with a try from George Carmont and two goals from Paul Deacon.

But the Dragons hit back with tries from Matt Cooper and Brett Morris, only for Carmont to score his second.

Morris added a second just before the break while a Cameron King try on 55 minutes put the Dragons in control.

The victory means that Australian sides have won the World Club Challenge, which pits the Super League and National Rugby League champions against each other, for the last three years.

"I am extremely proud of my players, I thought they worked extremely hard right to the death," Wigan coach Michael Maguire said.

"It was unfortunate the scoreboard didn't end up our way. Full credit to St George, that is the reason why they are the team they are in the NRL.

"They are a quality team and they take their opportunities when they get them.

"We had a few opportunities but probably didn't execute the fine detail and get across the line.

"It is always going to be a tough encounter against any NRL team but, from our point of view, I thought my players stood up. That shows that the two competitions are very close at the top end."

It had looked so good for the Warriors early on, as they made an electric start to proceedings at the DW Stadium.

Wigan pressurised the visiting ball-carriers and after the ball was spilled, Deacon fired a cross-kick to the corner which was collected in the air by Carmont and then touched down for the first try after only two minutes.

Deacon's goal soon after extended the lead to six points after Nathan Fien was penalised for a high tackle.

The Dragons looked shell-shocked at Wigan's explosive start but once they got into their stride, they looked irresistible.

Their first try came on 10 minutes, the ball was spread wide and Matt Cooper fed Morris who barged his way over in the corner.

Their second try came six minutes later, Cooper powering his way over despite the attention of two tacklers following a great step off his left.

But Wigan were not going to roll over and they took the lead again when Carmont picked up a loose pass and ran through a large hole in the Dragons defence to score from 60 metres out.

The Australian champions were having plenty of joy down the Wigan right and Morris scored again in the corner on 29 minutes to make the score 14-14.

With time ticking down, Sam Tomkins kicked over a drop-goal to give the Warriors a one-point lead into the break but that was their final score of the match as the Dragons defence started to dominant in the second period.

And the visitors took the lead for the first time when youngster Cameron King burst through from close range after throwing a dummy from the play the ball.

Wigan substitute Joel Tomkins prevented Australian Test winger Morris from collecting a hat-trick with a superb ankle-tap tackle and from the resulting play, Jamie Soward fired over a drop-goal to extend the lead to six points.

Roared on by a near-capacity crowd, Wigan went all out for the win in the closing stages but despite penalties being conceded by the visitors as they defended desperately, the Warriors could not find a way through.

Maguire, whose side continue their Super League defence at Salford next week, expects his team to learn much from the experience.

He said: "There were plenty of times in the game when we could have produced an opportunity to score or could have built more pressure.

"Those are the sort of things St George have been known for for a long time so we will take a lot from that game.

"It is great to see Wigan back in this arena. There is a lot of history there and hopefully we will get the chance again."


Wigan: S Tomkins, Goulding, Gleeson, Carmont, Roberts, Deacon, Leuluai, Prescott, McIlorum, Coley, Hansen, Hoffman, O'Loughlin.
Replacements: Tuson for Gleeson (38), Mossop for Prescott (25), J Tomkins for Coley (16), Farrell for O'Loughlin (32).

St George/Illawarra: Boyd, Morris, Gasnier, Cooper, Nightingale, Soward, Hornby, Hunt, Fien, Weyman, Scott, Creagh, Prior.
Replacements: Merrin for Hunt (24), King for Fien (50), Green for Weyman (19), Greenfield for Scott (30).

Att: 24,268

Ref: Thierry Alibert (France).

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