A hat-trick to Brett Morris in his first match for the Sydney Roosters has helped the NRL premiers to a 20-8 World Club Challenge victory over Super League champions Wigan.
The Tricolours shot out of the blocks in front of the 21,331-strong DW Stadium crowd, Morris waiting no less than two minutes to add to his illustrious career tryscoring tally and score his first for his new club.
Exploiting the Wigan defence easily, the Roosters continued their dominance in the eighth minute when 'B Moz' doubled his tally by muscling his way across the line. While Sio Siua Taukeiaho had missed his opening conversion attempt, this time he added the extras and the Australian outfit had a 10-nil lead in as many minutes.
From there an arm-wrestle developed, with Wigan patching their leaky defence and taking the contest to their opposites. It paid dividends at the quarter-mark of the match, Wigan winger Tom Davies getting the cherry-and-whites on the scoreboard and narrowing the gap to six with Zak Hardaker unable to convert.
Another ten minutes would pass before the scoreboard was called into play again, Morris completing his hat-trick out wide and pushing the lead back out to ten points - another miss from Taukeiaho keeping Wigan in with a sniff. The Tricolours took the 14-4 lead into the break and it was looking ominous for Wigan.
Neither goal-line saw any meaningful action for the first 20 minutes after halftime, the first score instead a penalty goal in the 62nd minute for the Roosters. With their lead pushed out to two converted tries, the Roosters relaxed briefly and Wigan seized the moment, scoring shortly after the two-pointer to narrow the gap to eight points through a Liam Marshall try out wide. Unconverted, it meant a minimum of another two scores were required for the home side and while they challenged the visitors' line, it wouldn't be breached again.
With the result all but confirmed, the Roosters iced the cake in the 77th minute with Daniel Tupou claiming a Luke Keary kick and scoring in the corner to push the final margin out to fourteen points.
The win sets up the Roosters well ahead of their 2019 campaign. They'll rest next weekend after a long flight home, before heading to Gosford on March 2 to face Manly-Warringah in the final weekend of the pre-season. Their premiership defence begins on Friday March 15, when they host arch-rivals South Sydney at their temporary (and former) Sydney Cricket Ground home. For Wigan, they have a week to recuperate before resuming their Super League campaign at home to Hull FC next Sunday.