NRL: Dragons win World Club Challenge

Ben Creagh of St George Illawarra Dragons is tackled by Martin Gleeson of Wigan Warriors during the World Club Challenge. Photo / Getty Images
Ben Creagh of St George Illawarra Dragons is tackled by Martin Gleeson of Wigan Warriors during the World Club Challenge. Photo / Getty Images

St George Illawarra captured the World Club Challenge title for the first time with a 21-15 win over three-time champions Wigan at DW Stadium this morning.

After being blown away in the opening four minutes, the NRL premiers showed their mettle to pull off the victory in front of 24,268 fans in cool, clear conditions.

By their high standards, it was a mistake-riddled performance by the Dragons and showed they were still in pre-season mode.

Winger Brett Morris was man of the match, the winger scoring two tries and causing havoc down the left side all evening as the Dragons prevailed without coach Wayne Bennett on the sidelines.

The hosts had a pre-match blow with workhorse Stuart Fielden sitting out the match alongside the suspended Jeff Lima.

To rev up the crowd, the Warriors paraded members of their 1987 World Club Challenge winning side before a minute's silence in respect for the victims of the Christchurch earthquake.

The Warriors burst out of the blocks, opening up an eight-point lead by the fourth minute.

After Beau Scott coughed up the second hit-up of the match, Wigan playmaker Paul Deacon's pinpoint kick floated beyond the reach of Jamie Soward and was plucked out of the air by George Carmont for the opening try.

Deacon slotted a penalty soon afterwards before the Dragons started finding their way back into the match with Morris and Matt Cooper causing them no end of grief down the visiting side's left side.

They both scored before Soward, who was defending in the centres, was isolated again with the five eighth failing to commit as Carmont finished off a movement that started within Wigan's half.

Morris showed his knack for finding the try line in the 30th minute by beating three, but in a worrying sign for Wigan, their centre Martin Gleeson limped off with a hamstring injury after being terrorised by Cooper.

Wigan fullback Sam Tomkins made it a 15-14 halftime lead for his team with a field goal in the final play before the break.

Young Dragon Cameron King barged over in the 55th minute to hand his side the lead again and Soward made it a six-point edge with a field goal with ten minutes to play.

Four minutes from the end, Wigan's Sam Tomkins was controversially taken out by opposite number Darius Boyd after kicking ahead, with the Dragons fortunate just to concede a penalty from French referee Thierry Alibert.

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