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Wigan Warriors 16-12 Penrith Panthers: Super League champions snatch dramatic World Club Challenge win

Tries from Abbas Miski, Kruise Leeming and Jake Wardle, two of which were converted by Harry Smith, saw Wigan crowned world club champions for a fifth time; late video referee drama denied Penrith; watch Super League and the NRL live on Sky Sports in 2024

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Highlights of World Club Challenge between Wigan Warriors and Penrith Panthers.

Jake Wardle's converted try proved the difference as Wigan snatched a dramatic 16-12 victory over Penrith.

Having been on the back foot early on, the Warriors took the lead in the ninth minute as last season's leading try-scorer Abbas Miski finished out wide for an unconverted try, although Nathan Cleary put the Panthers ahead with a converted score on 27 minutes.

Wigan hit back through Kruise Leeming, yet it was the NRL champions who led 12-10 at half-time thanks to a converted Dylan Edwards try. However, centre Wardle's converted try restored the lead in the second half after the video referee deemed he had grounded the ball while being tackled.

There was drama right to the last though as the video referee was called to adjudicate on whether Taylan May had scored on the last play of the game, but ruled there was insufficient evidence to overturn the on-field call of 'no try' to see Wigan crowned club world champions for a fifth time.

Story of the game

It was a night for Wigan to add to their list of previous title wins - the most recent of which came in 2017 - and all of which were recalled in a pre-match presentation that saw representatives of all four of those illustrious sides parading their silverware.

Yet the Warriors' glory night began in ignominious fashion when Willie Isa spilled the ball on the edge of his own 10 in the opening set, but with inexperienced Penrith stand-off Jack Cole still finding his feet, the hosts survived the early onslaught.

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Abbas Miski found space in the Penrith defence to give Wigan the first try in the World Club Challenge.

In their first foray forward after 10 minutes, Jai Field took advantage of a repeat set to jink inside the visitors' danger zone and the ball was dispatched out to the right when Bevan French sent Lebanon international Miski over in the corner.

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With Cole's confidence growing in only his second top-level start, the Panthers responded with more pressure, Brian To'o held up inches from the line on the last, and Moses Leota fumbling another fine opportunity.

Penrith's leveller arrived just before the half-hour mark through Cleary, whose initial kick was flapped at by Miski, allowing Cole to feed the experienced scrum-half to dart over and subsequently convert to give the Australian side a two-point lead.

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Nathan Cleary's high kick is fumbled by Abbas Miski and the ball is recovered by Dylan Edwards who finds the scrum-half to finish.

Just as Penrith's speed and pressure seemed to be making a difference, Wigan dredged up another response, again down the right flank where Adam Keighran found Miski and he sent the ball in-field through Isa for Leeming to finish.

Smith's conversion from under the posts gave Wigan a four-point lead but their opponents responded on the stroke of half-time when lively full-back Dylan Edwards flopped over in a repeat set, Cleary having the last say of the first half to boot his side into a two-point interval lead.

Australia international Cleary continued to orchestrate Penrith's assault at the start of the second half, his cleverness almost sending Sunia Turuva in the corner, but again Wigan withstood a tough spell and came back firing as Wardle twisted over to restore Wigan's slender lead after 55 minutes.

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Jai Field showed amazing pace and power to deny Taylan May a try that looked inevitable.

Smith's second-successful conversion put Wigan back four points in the clear and there were signs of frustration creeping into the Penrith ranks as Cleary, of all people, fumbled an opportunity after Isaah Yeo broke the line.

The hosts clung on as the clock ticked down, Field racing over for a stunning last-ditch tackle that dumped May into touch after the Penrith centre burst clear and looked a near certainty to level the scores.

French thought he had all-but won it when he raced onto a Smith kick with eight minutes left on the clock, only for Wigan's celebrations to be cut short by an offside call.

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Jake Wardle just about managed to get the ball down on the try line after he collected Jai Field's kick and somehow evaded the tackles of Dylan Edwards and Brian To'o.

The home side were forced to live on their nerves in the final moments as Cole barged close then May crashed over in the corner as the hooter sounded, forcing Wigan into an agonising wait until their famous victory was secured.

As Wigan celebrated the big-screen verdict, the agony was evident on the face of Cleary, who could not prevent his side, all-but three of whom also started in the golden-point loss to St Helens last year, failing in their quest to land the trophy for the first time.

What they said

Wigan's Bevan French, who was named player of the match:

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Bevan French was relieved as Wigan Warriors managed to survive the pressure from Penrith Panthers.

"I don't think you can sum it up - it was crazy. We knew it was going to be tough, but I wasn't expecting it to go down to the last second.

"I'm relieved after that last tackle - I don't know how to explain it."

Wigan head coach Matt Peet, who has now won every trophy available in only his third season:

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Wigan Warriors head coach Matt Peet says he's blessed to work with his players and the next challenge is to continue the momentum they have built.

"The players have done it, I haven't done it, and I'm blessed to work with this lot. I love working with them.

"Tonight, off the field and on the field, is the culmination of a lot of hard work and we have to do it again and again now.

"It's not just about winning trophies, but packing this place out and standing for something."

Penrith Panthers head coach Ivan Cleary:

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Penrith Panthers coach Ivan Cleary says Wigan had three try scoring chances and executed them all while his side could not capitalise on their pressure.

"I can't really take anything away from our boys. I thought they played well in terms of field position and creating chances, we just couldn't actually do as well as they did.

"They were down our end three times and scored three times and that's not something we pride ourselves on, but they executed better than we did and tonight that was enough."

What's next?

Wigan Warriors return to Super League action on Friday, March 1 when they face Huddersfield Giants at the DW Stadium in match which is live on Sky Sports Arena (8pm kick-off). Penrith Panthers begin their quest for a fourth-straight NRL title away to Melbourne Storm, live on Sky Sports Arena, on Friday, March 8 (9.05am kick-off).

Watch every match of the 2024 Super League season, including Rivals Round, Magic Weekend, the play-offs, and men's, women's, and wheelchair Grand Finals, live on Sky Sports. Stream rugby league and more of sport contract-free with NOW.

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