English champions St Helens have stunned the reigning NRL champions the Penrith Panthers, sealing victory in a stunning golden point finish.
St Helens came into the clash with four straight premierships under their belt, while the mountain men have gone back-to-back in the NRL.
But St Helens’ win makes it the first time since 1994, or 29 years, that an English side has claimed the win on Aussie soil.
Back then it was Leeds beating Brisbane 20-14 in Brisbane.
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The English challengers kept Ivan Cleary’s dangerous side scoreless for almost 52 minutes and were the first to open the scoring with a long-range effort for fullback Jack Welsby to score.
Only moments later, former NRL star Konrad Hurrell charged his way over the line from 10 metres out for the second four-pointer of the night.
The Panthers defence was no match for the former Warriors and Titans gun dubbed the “Hurrellcane” by Fox League’s Matt Russell.
It took 52 minutes for the Panthers to cross, courtesy of an impressive kick from superstar halfback Nathan Cleary for Izack Tago.
With only a minute left on the scoreboard, Brian To’o was able to crash over after a Jack Welsby error from a Stephen Crichton bomb.
In shocking scenes for St Helens, Cleary nailed the conversion from 10 metres in from the sideline to take the clash to golden point.
During the extra period, Stephen Crichton was hammered by a strong Hurrell tackle, knocking the ball on to give the challengers perfect field position.
St Helens playmaker Lewis Dodd was then able to slot the field goal and secure victory for the English side.
“Dodd has won the World Club Challenge for St Helens, if you have any doubts what it means, have a look at the reaction from the St Helens players,” Voss said.
“It is just unbelievable mate … everyone was writing us off,” Dodd said post-match.
St Helens have now won the World Club Challenge three times.
The Panthers were only able to score two tries in the World Club Challenge, and the absence of two players was clear according to Fox League’s Michael Ennis.
Ennis said you could “hardly notice” gun playmaker Jarome Luai without barnstorming edge forward Viliame Kikau.
Penrith recruited both Luke Garner and Zac Hosking who will fight it out for the backrow spot – however, the combination with their playmaker is clearly yet to gel.
“Penrith, we are so used to seeing Viliame Kikau damaging on that left side and unlocking Jarome Luai,” Ennis said.
“Jarome Luai, you hardly noticed he was even there and Luke Garner in his first game for the club, he has carried the ball once.”
Ennis also highlighted the absence of Apisai Koroisau, who departed for the Tigers in the off-season.
Koroisau was one of the most creative and dangerous dummy-halves in the NRL, and it could take time for hooker Mitch Kenny to fill the void.
“Mitch Kenny out of dummy-half, it is a completely different tempo … watching them in that first half it is going to take some time to adjust without those key players,” Ennis said.
St Helens came into the World Club Challenge with four Super League premierships under their belt, and left BlueBet Stadium with another trophy.
The Saints are clearly the most dangerous English club and bested the most dominant NRL club in the Penrith Panthers on Saturday night.
Ivan Cleary’s side have won back-to-back premierships and multiple minor premierships – but are now missing one trophy from their cabinet.
The Panthers haven’t won a World Club Challenge and were only afforded one chance in two NRL premierships after Covid cancelled the game in 2021.
Meanwhile, St Helens have now won their third World Club Challenge to go with wins in 2001 and 2007.
They have also stopped a three-game streak of NRL champions winning the World Club Challenge in years gone by.
Originally published as ‘Everyone was writing us off’: English champs stun Penrith in ‘unbelievable’ scenes
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