Top 5 World Club Challenge matches

Dave Kuzio:

The World Club Challenge features the Super League champions going up against the NRL Grand Final winners in a bid to be crowned best club side in the world.

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St Helens and Sydney Roosters – Eastern Suburbs as they were known then – competed in the first ever World Club Challenge match at the Sydney Cricket Ground in 1976. They then met again in 2003 at the Reebok Arena and they will lock horns again for the third time to see who is the best team in the world.

The Saints and Roosters will face off against each other in the 2020 World Club Challenge at the Totally Wicked Stadium on Saturday, February 22.

Before that though, we will go through five of the best ever World Club Challenge games that have taken place over the years.

5. St Helens 20-18 Brisbane Broncos – 2001 WCC

St Helens World Club Challenge. (Photo by Stephen Pond/EMPICS Sport)

 

Brisbane Broncos headed over to England as champions of Australia and the overwhelming favourites to be crowned World Club Champions for a second time. St Helens, on the other hand, had other ideas.

The Broncos led 12-6 at the break thanks to tries from Shaun Berrigan and Philip Lee, while Paul Sculthorpe replied for the Saints. Many people thought the Aussies would take it up another gear in the second period and that looked like being the case when Brad Meyers went over to make it 18-6.

St Helens do not know when they are beaten and they showed it that night at the Reebok Stadium. Sean Long crossed for a try to give them hope as they only trailed by six now. Saints levelled the contest at 18-18 when Paul Newlove broke down the left before turning the ball inside for Chris Joynt to race over. Two drop goals from Sculthorpe and Long in the final seven minutes ensured Saints won the WCC for the first time in their history.

4. St Helens 18-14 Brisbane Broncos – 2007 WCC

St Helens World Club Challenge. (Photo by Anna Gowthorpe/PA Archive/PA Images)

 

Following that defeat, it would be another six years until the Broncos travelled to England again. Unfortunately for them, they came up against St Helens and this Saints team was better than the one they lost to in 2001.

Brisbane were missing some key players for this one with Shane Webcke and David Stagg out, while Casey Maguire had left the club. Just like in 2001, Brisbane scored first with Corey Parker capitalising on an Ade Gardner mistake. With the Saints trailing 8-0, Gardner redeemed himself with a try in the corner just before half-time.

Darius Boyd extended Brisbane’s lead in the second half following great kick from Darren Lockyer to lead 12-6. Saints soon levelled it up with Paul Sculthorpe taking a short pass from Keiron Cunningham to go in under the posts. Brisbane went back in front before a superb try from Gardner sealed the win.

A towering kick to the corner from Sean Long saw the winger leap the highest to collect the ball and touch down for his second try of the night. It was the first time in the game that St Helens had led, and they did not let it go.

3. Widnes 30-18 Canberra Raiders – WCC 1989

Many people would argue that this game should be higher in the list, but here we are. Widnes were the champions of England and they boasted the likes of Alan Tait, Martin Offiah, Jonathan Davies, David Hulme, Kurt Sorensen and Richie Eyres in their team.

Canberra Raiders arrived with an enormous reputation with Gary Belcher, Mal Meninga, Laurie Daly, John Ferguson, Ricky Stuart, Steve walters, Glenn Lazarus and Bradley Clyde all coming over to give the Pommies a bashing.

The Green Machine led 12-0 at one stage thanks to tries from Meninga and Chris O’Sullivan as they dominated the opening stages. Widnes refused to lie down and they only trailed by two points at half-time thanks to tries from Paul Hulme and Martin Offiah.

Davies scored in the second half in the corner and was lucky to still have his head on his shoulders after he was taken high by Daly as Widnes hit the lead for the first time. Offiah then scored a trademark try for his second as Canberra started to fall apart. Further scores from Eyres and Wright secured a famous victory, although Walters did score the final try of the game.

2. Wigan 8-2 Manly – WCC 1987

Although the first WCC took place in 1977, the 1987 clash between Wigan and Manly was actually the first official World Club Challenge match. Over 37,000 people crammed into Central Park on Wednesday, October 7 as Wigan laid claim to being the best team in the world.

This game ended try less after 80 minutes with David Stephenson kicking all of Wigan’s points from penalties, while Michael O’Connor responded with one for Manly.

Despite no tries at all, this game was a classic and not for the faint-hearted. Both teams were dominant in the tackle, this showed with prop forward Shaun Wane getting the man of the match award. Manly ended the game with 12 men after Ron Gibbs was sent off for hitting Joe Lydon with an elbow off the ball.

1. Brisbane Broncos 14-20 Wigan – WCC 1994

This hasn’t been a great list for Brisbane, but this game will always be number one until someone goes and replicates it. Wigan became the first and only English team to go to Australia and win the World Club Challenge .

They went over to Australia just days after winning the Premiership Trophy at Old Trafford and beat the best they had to offer. Wigan led 12-4 at the break thanks to tries from Denis Betts and Barrie-Jon Mather, while Wendell Sailor beat Martin Offiah to score in the corner.

Wigan virtually sealed the game just after half-time after Michael Hancock lost the ball and Jason Robinson picked up the loose ball and raced away to score. Brisbane hit back with tries from Hancock and Julian O’Neill, but a penalty from Frano Botica ensured Wigan won the trophy for a third time.