Joe Burgess of Wigan Warriors goes over for the opening try under pressure from Jesse Raimen of Cronulla at DW Stadium
Joe Burgess of Wigan Warriors goes over for the opening try under pressure from Jesse Raimen of Cronulla at DW Stadium Jan Kruger

Sharks sent packing by Burgess-led Wigan

CRONULLA lost their cool and the contest as Wigan sprung a 22-6 World Club Challenge upset on the Australian premiers - spearheaded by a hat-trick from NRL discard Joe Burgess.

The home side held a 10-0 halftime advantage at the break thanks to two tries from Burgess, the first of which required serious acrobatic prowess to dot down in the corner after four minutes.

Burgess, a high profile signing for the Roosters in 2016 before he was shuffled off to Souths after just four games, and then home by the season's end, also defused two scoring chances as Cronulla were kept scoreless in the first half before Wigan went on with it after the break.

On the wrong end of an 11-7 penalty count, the Sharks frustrations boiled over as Paul Gallen waged a running battle with referee Robert Hicks.

Cronulla coach Shane Flanagan declared the officiating "awful" as a number of 50-50 calls went the locals way in front of 21,011 at DW Stadium.

Hustled and bustled by the Warriors, at the 14th minute Wade Graham was penalised for a forearm to the face of back-rower Sam Powell, and was in trouble again for a late high shot on his opposite number.

Tensions again rose when rookie hooker Jayden Brailey was caught pulling Taulima Tautai's hair as one of a number of scuffles broke out, only for Wigan to further extend their lead with a second half try to Oliver Gildart.

Cronulla threatened a fast finish when winger Jesse Ramien touched down for a try on debut, but Wigan held strong and a dubious third try was awarded to Burgess on the bell, crowning the Warriors as WCC champs for the first time since 1994.

Burgess showed the type of finishing that brought him Down Under in the first place, with none of the clumsy hands that sent him packing after 13 games at the Chooks and Bunnies.


WIGAN, ENGLAND - FEBRUARY 19:  Sean O'Loughlin of Wigan Warriors lifts the trophy during the Dacia World Club Challenge match between Wigan Warriors and Cronulla-Sutherland Sharks at DW Stadium on February 19, 2017 in Wigan, England.  (Photo by Jan Kruger/Getty Images)
Sean O'Loughlin of Wigan Warriors lifts the trophy at DW Stadium Jan Kruger

Looked far more comfortable in English surrounds, not just with ball in hand either.

Burgess produced two defensive plays that directly defused certain Cronulla tries in the first 40, as well as a clutch bomb take, followed by a 20m bust late in the contest. Done good.

Burgess's third try despite chasing from off-side and a crucial penalty against Paul Gallen for passing off the ground, when he did nothing of the sort, headlined a worrying list.