St Helens stun Penrith Panthers to win World Club Challenge

They did it with just 45 percent of football, a testament to the bravery of a side that have won their competition four times in a row. The Panthers threatened to steal it when Brian To’o scored late and Nathan Cleary scored a pressure conversion to the tie. However, the Saints’ big names – notably James Roby and man-of-the-match Jack Welsby – stood up in the big moments.

It wasn’t long before things went wrong for the Panthers. The weather dropped seven degrees in the 10 minutes before the game began, a southerly wind pushed the torrential rain down sideways and it was more lightning than the predicted heat that threatened to stall the game. After traveling 17,000 km, St. Helens felt right at home.

Things didn’t go much better for the hosts after kick-off; Moses Leota turned possession while taking the first hit-up.

It is said that a more adventurous style of play is adopted in the Super League. For proof, look no further than Jack Welsby’s opening attempt. A quick play-the-ball, a deft pass exchange, and the Saints ran 75 yards to score. You’d pay a premium to see that on a dry track.

When St. Helens three-quarters Konrad Hurrell rushed in shortly after, much like he had done countless times for the Warriors, the excitement was high. They kept Penrith goalless in the first half, largely thanks to two try-savers from Welsby. The tackle on Cleary – the Panthers’ skipper appeared destined to score from close range – was one of many highlights for the full-back.

When they trotted into the sheds at halftime, the Panthers had another five minutes to regroup. The extra pause was granted to let the flash pass, and Ivan Cleary’s men duly found their own spark.


Stephen Crichton gave the Bulldogs a little taste of what life will be like when he’s their No. 1. He made a few uncharacteristic mistakes on defense, including one that gave the Saints a match-winning chance. However, it was his last-minute bombshell that sent the game into overtime and he will no doubt be a star in that position.

Taylan May has a knack for timing, as evidenced by the 22 tries he’s already scored in the NRL. Even if he’s knocked down by injury – he picked up a knee problem when he was the victim of an ugly leg attack from Agnatius Paasi – he’ll have plenty of time to recover. The Samoa winger has two games to play due to his suspension and the club have a bye in round three.

However, this was all about the Saints, who will march all the way back to the northern hemisphere with the only silverware that eluded the panthers. St Helens stun Penrith Panthers to win World Club Challenge

Ryan Sederquist

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