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A typically tenacious defensive performance has seen the St George Illawarra Dragons edge out a spirited Wigan Warriors side 21-15 to claim an entertaining World Club Challenge at DW Stadium.
Some determined Dragons tackling held the Warriors scoreless in the second stanza after the NRL premiers trailed 15-14 at the change of ends.
The sole second half try came via rookie hooker Cameron King, who barged over from dummy half for what was his first ever - and what proved to be the matchwinning - four pointer. Unfortunately for the 19-year old, he was forced from the field minutes later with a shoulder injury.
For the Dragons, Michael Weyman and Ben Creagh produced tireless performances, while the ever dangerous Brett Morris was a handful with a brace of tries on the wing.
Deputising for Wayne Bennett, assistant coach Steve Price was animated on the sideline and looked quite pleased with his team's effort considering the match was essentially the club's third trial.
As the close scoreline suggested, Wigan were far from disgraced - the 2010 English Super League premiers proved dangerous in attack but were unable to take full advantage of their attacking opportunities. In particular, the last tackle kicking games of halves Paul Deacon and Thomas Leuluai failed to find the mark on a number of occasions.
Former Knights' centre George Carmont was the surprise standout with a double including a stunning 50 metre burst in the 22nd minute.
Earlier, the Warriors came out all guns blazing, racing to an 8-nil lead after just ten minutes before Morris hit back to reduce the deficit to 8-4.
Matt Cooper then gave St George Illawarra the advantage when he steamrolled over some flat-footed defence but Wigan surged ahead again thanks to Carmont's second. On the stroke of halftime, a surprise drop goal from Wigan fullback Sam Tomkins gave the home side a slim 15-14 advantage at the change of ends.
King's score brought the Dragons back ahead on the scoreboard before Jamie Soward slotted a one-pointer ten minutes from fulltime for a six point lead.
The Dragons withstood a late assault from Wigan, holding on for dear life to claim their inaugural World Club Challenge.
Wigan Warriors 15 were defeated by St George Illawarra Dragons 21
World Club Challenge - World Club Challenge - Monday February 28, 2011 6:15am
Venue: DW Stadium, Wigan
Referee: Thierry Ailbert
Video Referee: Phil Bentham
Touch Judges: Tony Martin and Tim Roby
Halftime: Wigan Warriors 15 St George Illawarra Dragons 14
Leagueunlimited.com players of the match:
3 Points - Brett Morris (2 Tries)
2 Points - Ben Creagh
1 Point - George Carmont (2 Tries)
Wigan Warriors (15)
Tries: George Carmont (2)
Field Goals: Sam Tomkins (1/1)
Conversions: Paul Deacon (2/2)
Penalty Goals: Paul Deacon (1/2)
St George Illawarra Dragons (21)
Tries: Matt Cooper, Brett Morris (2), Cameron King
Field Goals: Jamie Soward (1/1)
Conversions: Jamie Soward (2/4)
LeagueUnlimited.com Live Commentary A very good, and early, morning and welcome to the coverage of the World Club Challenge between NRL premiers St George Illawarra and ESL champions Wigan.
The poll on the LeagueUnlimited home page has the Dragons as heavy favourites, with 72% of fans expecting a victory for the Red V. The Dragons are as per program, Bryson Goodwin is the man to drop off the five man bench for young hooker Cameron King.
Wigan have the home ground advantage but can they make the most of it? English sides have struggled in this fixture over the past few seasons.
In team news for the Warriors, Stuart Fielden is a late withdrawal.
A minutes silence now for those who lost their lives in Christchurch earlier this week.
1 min: Perfect conditions in front of a packed and noisy DW Stadium, Dan Hunt takes the first hit and Weyman loses it on the second tackle, drama already!
2 min: TRY
A well weighted cross field chip targets Jamie Soward, who can't get a big enough leap and has the ball plucked from his grasp by former Knight George Carmont. Paul Deacon converts and the Dragons would be shell=shicked after that start.
Wigan Warriors 6-0
4 min: WIgan playing very up tempo, and a penalty goes their way after a high shot - interestingly they elect for a shot at goal.
4 min: PENALTY GOAL
Paul Deacon adds another two points after a high shot from Nathan Fien.
Wigan Warriors 8-0
6 min: Another error from St George, making it two in two sets - they look flustered.
8 min: Smart defence from Wigan, as Gasnier fields a bomb on the last but is quickly swamped by three tacklers.
10 min: TRY
St George Illawarra TRY
Scrappy try there to Brett Morris but they all count. Ben Creagh hits a short ball before flinging it along the ground, it's picked up by Cooper who simply passes to Morris in the corner. On second viewing, poor Wigan defence right on their own line. Soward fails to convert.
Wigan Warriors 8-4
15 min: Bennett's boys starting to settle into the grind after that frenetic opening.
16 min: Penalty to the Dragons and they're right on Wigans line again and after the ease of their first try perhaps another is on the way..
16 min: TRY
St George Illawarra TRY
Another easy try for the Dragons, this time Matt Cooper from a fairly simple run but the Warriors were sitting back on their line and Cooper momentum is too strong. Soward converts.
St George Illawarra Dragons 10-8
20 min: Ryan Hoffman with a surge for Wigan - plus a penalty, putting the Warriors within range.
22 min: PENALTY GOAL ATTEMPT
Wigan taking a leaf from rugby union's book, if we can't beat them with tries we'll beat 'em with goals. Deacon lines up a penalty from wide out but misses.
St George Illawarra Dragons 10-8
22 min: TRY
Well I jinxed them! Wigan field the drop out and pass it wide against a compressed defence, George Carmont gets the ball, puts the pedal down, and swerves 50 metres to score! Not bad for the oldest chap in the Wigan side. Deacon converts.
Wigan Warriors 14-10
27 min: On the last, Nathan Fien grubbers but it's far too strong for a very shallow ingoal.
29 min: TRY
St George Illawarra TRY
The good old Darius Boyd second-man play again yields success, Boyd floats across before firing it out to Brett Morris - he has some work to do but manages to outmuscle the defence and plant the ball. Soward fails to convert.
33 min: Sean O'Loughlin leaves the park for Wigan - usually an 80 minute player, perhaps he's in some strife..
34 min: Soward finds touch for a breather, and St George look on top, the Wigan defence quite vulnerable on their own line.
36 min: Deacon with a shocking end to a good Warriors' set, they had the Dragons under pressure but simply bomb it into the stands on the last. Attention to detail..
38 min: Brett Morris finds more space on the right, he chips ahead but very well covered by Wigan hooker Michael McIlorum.
40 min: FIELD GOAL
Wigan on the attack and as the siren sounds, Sam Tomkins slots a drop goal from right in front to give his side a 15-14 lead. Big play but that was only the halftime siren, still 40 minutes to play Sam..
Wigan Warriors 15-14
Hafltime: A very entertaining first half, Wigan started all guns blazing and have regained that same enthusiasm just before the break. They're not afraid to throw it around, risky football but it appears to be the way to go - their online defence doesn't look all that secure.
41 min: Dragons to kick off in the second half!
42 min: George Carmont kicks on the last and Nightingale flings out his boot rebounding the ball over the sideline. On a side note, Carmont is playing exceptionally well, he was never this good in the NRL.
47 min: Jamie Soward takes on the line for the first time tonight, hopefully more runs to come from the five-eighth.
50 min: Sloppy pass from Soward results in a Beau Scott error, we'll be forgiving though it is the pre-season after all.
52 min: A probing Wigan attacking set but yet another poor ending, O'Loughlin kicks for the wing but Darren Goulding had run slightly infield and the ball flies over his head.
54 min: Boyd tries to set up Morris for his third in the corner but opposing winger Goulding nearly latches on to an intercept - he saved a try.
55 min: TRY
St George Illawarra TRY
Young hooker Cameron King, who only just got on the field, catches the Wigan defence daydreaming at marker and burrows through for his first try in first grade. Dragons coach Steve Price lets out a "woo!' in the stands - his team has the lead. Soward converts.
St George Illawarra Dragons 20-15
60 min: After scoring the try, Cam King has left the field clutching his shoulder, hopefully nothing too serious.
61 min: Wigan running around like headless chooks on the last tackle before Thomas Leuluai calms it down and finds the sideline.
63 min: Matt Cooper gets on the outside of the defence but luckily for Wigan, Goulding tracks him down and flings him out just 10 metres away from the line.
66 min: The Warriors get two penalties in succession, bring the crowd alive and Wigan on the attack. Can they strike?
67 min: Some desperate Dragons defence holds Wigan an bay and their grubber on the fifth rolls dead turning over possession.
69 min: Wigan run the ball on the last and look to have an overlap but the sliding defensive line shuts things down.
70 min: FIELD GOAL
A long range break from Brett Morris is thwarted by a great ankle tap from Joel Tomkins and on the next play Jamie Soward slots a field goal from right in front.
St George Illawarra Dragons 21-15
72 min: Darren Goulding nearly scores for Wigan! Only a last ditch attempt from Morris saves the day.
73 min: With six points the difference, if we have a draw at fulltime it's straight into golden point.
77 min: Drama! Sam Tomkins grubbers ahead and Darius Boyd appears to have taken him out in the chase, it always looks worse on slow motion though, Boyd hit him a fraction of a second after he kicked it and was on line to tackle him anyway. Wigan penalty and they're right on the attack!
78 min: Sean O'Loughlin goes within inches of scoring, on the next play Leuleuai gets far too excited and passes it right into the stands. Coach Michael MacGuire is spitting chips up in the grandstand.
80 min: George Carmont makes a half break but can't find support, that should be the ball game for St George.
Fulltime: Great second half defence from the Dragons, the Warriors threw a lot at them but they held on for dear life. Entertaining match, played at a great speed and credit to St George for such a polished performance two weeks out from the season.