World Club Challenge LIVE: Panthers grab narrow half-time lead thanks to Edwards


World Club Challenge LIVE: Panthers grab narrow half-time lead thanks to Edwards

Key posts

Forty minutes left to decide the best club side in the world. Wigan get underway through Harry Smith’s boot. Cometh the hour, who will be their man?

If you went on numbers alone, it’s a miracle Wigan are still in this game. They’ve only had 43 per cent of possession and run for almost 400 metres less than Penrith, who have been camped at the Warriors’ end for most of the half.

But you can’t put a number on spirit. And this match means so much to the Super League champions. That last Dylan Edwards try right before half-time had been coming and you just feel that will be a big momentum turner. Just a lazy 151 run metres for Edwards in the first half too.

Righto, who have you got from here?

Wigan players celebrate Kruise Leeming’s try.Credit: Getty

Breathe now, breathe.

What a first half between the NRL and Super League champions, one in which both threw their fair share of punches. But it’s Penrith who take a two-point lead at the break after a couple of tries each.

What to make of the first half? Wigan’s energy has been super and their defence on their own line relentless. Hoe else do you explain Penrith being caught with the ball six times (yes, you read that right) on the last tackle inside the Warriors’ half.

Bevan French has opened up Penrith’s left-side defence of Taylan May and Sunia Turuva a couple of times with super passes to Abbas Miski to set up the hosts’ two tries. I reckon there might be a few NRL coaches taking note.

What will the second half have in store?

Panthers line up for the national anthem.

Panthers line up for the national anthem.Credit: Getty

Is this a try? Is it not a try? Dylan Edwards thinks he has restored Penrith’s lead right on half-time. The referee has gone upstairs to have a look.

There was a crucial six-again in the lead-up with the Panthers allowed a full set inside the Wigan 30-metre line. They looked like a couple of times they might crack – and they finally did with Edwards straightening up and burrowing low to get the ball down.

The video referee has given it. What a relief that will be for Ivan Cleary.

Nathan Cleary makes no mistake with the conversion right next to the upright. Penrith in front again.

How decisive will that try be in the wash-up?

Penrith 12, Wigan 10 after 39 minutes

That is sensational. Absolutely sensational. Wigan has scored a try, the like of which we haven’t seen Penrith concede for a long time.

Have a guess who started it? Bevan French. What an improved player he is.

He decides to run the ball down the short side and they clearly think they can have some joy against the Taylan May-Sunia Turuva combination. Again, Abbas Miski races down the right wing, but this time he has to throw the ball back inside and it finally ends in the hands of Kruise Leeming, backing up on the inside, to score. Chamgne stuff that.

Harry Smith makes good of the conversion.

Wigan in front again. Upset, anyone?

Wigan 10, Penrith 6 after 34 minutes

You knew it just had to be him.

After set after set in which they couldn’t organise themselves well enough to muster a kick under constant pressure from the Wigan defence, Nathan Cleary gets a high bomb away on the last. Abbas Miski, who scored the first try, leaps high into the air but can’t pull it down. It falls to Penrith hooker Mitch Kenny, who pops a pass back on the inside to Cleary, backing up like all good halfbacks, to score untouched under the post.

He throws the ball into the rowdy Wigan fans too in celebration.

It’s an easy conversion for the two-time Clive Churchill Medal winner.

Penrith 6, Wigan 4 after 28 minutes.

Bevan French looks a completely different player to the one we saw in the NRL all those years ago. His pass to set up the first try was sensational, but his kick for touch to slow the game down when his team needed a rest said more about his evolution as a half these days.

You can tell how much work Wigan coach Matt Peet has done on Penrith. His side try an early kick over the top with Dylan Edwards in the line for Penrith, but the ball shoots off the surface and rolls dead. The Penrith No.1 had it covered anyway.

Wigan prop Mike Cooper runs the ball into the Penrith defence.

Wigan prop Mike Cooper runs the ball into the Penrith defence.Credit: Getty

What was I saying about being caught on the last? It’s up to five. Yes, five times the Panthers have been tackled in possession on the last play inside Wigan’s half. We haven’t even played 20 minutes.

This time it’s Liam Martin who is dragged down after Nathan Cleary was forced to dump the ball to James Fisher-Harris earlier in the play. Ivan Cleary doesn’t usually get too emotional. He must be wondering what is happening with all these last tackle plays?

Now it’s James Fisher-Harris’ turn to be caught with the ball on the last tackle inside Wigan’s red zone.

There’s a clear communication breakdown from Penrith in attack so far. That’s three times in the first 14 minutes they’ve surrendered the ball on the last after being in a good attacking position.

Thee noise is almost deafening inside the stadium. I can only imagine it’s having an effect.

Jack Cole is now down in backplay with an issue. He was hit late after a pass. He looks like he’s clutching at a rib. The trainer has left him, but I don’t think that’s the last we’ll hear about that.

Now the Panthers have created an overlap, Brian To’o looks like he’ll score for all money, but no, he’s collared by three, four desperate Wigan defenders. The crowd at the southern end stands as one. Brilliant defence from the Warriors.

If Penrith didn’t already know they were in for a huge fight, they do now.

Wigan 4, Penrith 0 after 18 minutes.

This is some sensational defence from Wigan to begin with, Jake Wardle snuffing out a dangerous situation when he arrowed in from his left centre position to nail Dylan Edwards as an overlap presented itself. And then again on the last Jack Cole is caught in possession of the ball. Not a moment’s peace in the early stages here.

Now they’ve got a chance in Penrith’s end after a piggyback penalty.

And they’re in. What a pass that was from Bevan French, the reigning Man Of Steel winner, to find Abbas Miski, he of Josh Mansour look-a-like fame, who powers over to score. Sensational start from the hosts and listen to this atmosphere inside the DW. It’s rocking.

Harry Smith’s conversion from the sideline is short and wide. A bit like my golf shots.

What a start from the Warriors

Wigan 4, Penrith 0 after 10 minutes

Leave a Comment