Wigan Warriors 8-20 Sydney Roosters
The Sydney Roosters have claimed their 4th World Club Challenge with a strong performance on a chilly night at the DW Stadium in Wigan.
Debutant Brett Morris was the hero, scoring a first-half hat-trick as the Warriors had no answer to the NRL Premiers’ fluent attacking performance.
Despite a spirited fightback from the home side, they left themselves too much to do after conceding two soft tries in the opening eight minutes.
In front of a near capacity crowd of 21,331, it was the Roosters who struck first blood after just three minutes when Morris, playing in the centres in place of the absent Latrell Mitchell, slipped away from a couple of weak tackles and went over in the left corner.
Five minutes later he doubled his tally in the same corner after more poor defending. The Warriors players thought they’d held him up in a four-man tackle but he somehow stretched his arm out to plant the ball down and give the Roosters an 8-0 advantage.
Sio Siua Taukeiaho added the conversion to give the visitors a 10-0 lead.
At that point, it looked as though it might be a humiliation for the home side but a high tackle from Kiwi prop Jared Waerea-Hargreaves on Wigan hooker Sam Powell sparked them into life and after a short spell of pressure on the Roosters line they went over through winger Tom Davies.
Zak Hardaker missed the conversion but the Warriors were within a converted try now of their opponents.
On 31 minutes though came what was perhaps the decisive score, as Morris completed his hat-trick after good work from Luke Keary and Cooper Cronk.
A second missed conversion from Taukeiaho meant it was 14-4 to Sydney at the break.
The second half was a more even affair but the damage had been done before the interval.
Taukeiaho kicked a penalty to push the Roosters out to a 12 point lead but on 65 minutes Wigan gave themselves a glimmer of hope when winger Liam Marshall showed great footwork to control a poor George Williams pass, before picking up and going over in the same corner where Morris’ three tries came. Hardaker missed the conversion again to leave the score at 8-16 with 15 minutes to go.
There was to be no miraculous comeback from the Super League champions though, as the game was put beyond all doubt four minutes from time by Roosters winger Daniel Tupou, as he claimed a high ball from Keary’s kick to touch down in the corner.
Wigan will be left rueing a sloppy start, and they were left playing catch-up for the whole game, giving themselves too much to do. It took a high tackle from Waerea-Hargreaves to spark them into life and if they’d started with that intensity it may have been a slightly closer scoreline.
As for the Roosters, they looked excellent in the first half particularly, and their defence looked very solid in their first game of 2019. On this evidence, and with Latrell Mitchell to come back too they’ll be a very difficult side to stop this year in the NRL.
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