Morris grabs debut hat-trick as Roosters crowned world champions

Wigan Warriors paid the price for a woeful start as they went down to Sydney Roosters in the 25th World Club Challenge in front of a bumper crowd of 21,331 at the DW Stadium.

Sydney Roosters' Boyd Cordner (centre left) and team-mates celebrate with the trophy after winning the World Club Challenge.

Former Australia Test threequarter Brett Morris took advantage of two defensive blunders to score two tries inside eight minutes of his debut and went on to complete a hat-trick before half-time as the Roosters established a 14-4 lead.

The Super League champions rallied after their dreadful opening and tries from wingers Tom Davies and Liam Marshall gave them hope, but they had left themselves too much to do.

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Morris was named man of the match, repeating his feat from the 2011 final when he scored two tries for St George Illawarra as they beat Wigan, also at the DW Stadium.

Wigan had hoped to set a new mark with a fifth win on their record-equalling eighth appearance in the annual global challenge.

But it was the Roosters who maintained their 100 per cent record with a fourth triumph to draw level with their hosts and Melbourne Storm.

The Roosters’ victory, which followed their 36-14 win over the Warriors in Sydney in 2014, is the 12th by Australian clubs going back to 1987 and, perhaps more significantly, a ninth in the last 11 years.

Not all the Australian clubs have taken the concept seriously, but Roosters coach Trent Robinson showed he meant business by taking his squad to Paris for a training camp en route to England and he was able to field 13 members of the side that beat Melbourne 21-6 in 
last September’s NRL Grand Final.

However, it was the one newcomer who stole the limelight, with Morris, who got his chance in the absence of centre Latrell Mitchell, making a blistering start to his Roosters career.

He shrugged off the attempted tackle of Oliver Gildart and Thomas Leuluai to score the opening try after only three minutes and doubled his tally five minutes later, stretching out of a four-man tackle to plant the ball over the line.

Prop Sio Siua Taukeiaho kicked one conversion to put the visitors 10-0 ahead and stun the home crowd, but the Wigan fans were on their feet when hooker Sam Powell was tackled high and late by prop Jared Waerea-Hargreaves.

The big Kiwi international got away with a lecture from referee Robert Hicks, but Wigan made the most of back-to-back penalties to build pressure on the visitors’ line and it paid off after 19 minutes when half-backs Leuluai and George Williams worked the ball out wide for Gildart to get Davies over for a much-needed try.

But Zak Hardaker was unable to add the conversion and the Warriors’ bold fightback was halted by Morris, who was crafted sufficient space by 
half-backs Cooper Cronk and Luke Keary to complete his hat-trick nine minutes before the break.

An interception from centre Dan Sarginson and a one-on-one ball steal by captain Sean O’Loughlin gave hosts Wigan renewed hope early in the second half.

The Roosters were forced into some desperate defence to keep their line intact and Wigan were equally resolute, holding substitute Nat Butcher up over the line and forcing winger Matt Ikuvalu into touch when he threatened to go over in the corner.

Taukeiaho kicked a 40m penalty midway through the second half to extend the Australian club’s lead, but Marshall kept Wigan’s hopes alive with a 65th-minute try in which he made the most of a poor pass by Williams to touch down at the corner.

It was never going to be enough, though, and left winger Daniel Tupou had the final say when he plucked Keary’s kick out of the air to score the Roosters’ fourth try four minutes from the end.

Wigan Warriors: Hardaker; Davies, Gildart, Sarginson, Marshall; Williams, Leuluai; Clubb, Powell, Flower, Greenwood, Farrell, O’Loughlin. Substitutes: Navarrete, Isa, Hamlin, Bullock.

Sydney Roosters: Tedesco; Tupou, Manu, Morris, Ikuvalu; Keary, Cronk; Waerea-Hargreaves, Friend, Taukeiaho, Cordner, Aubusson, Radley. Substitutes: I Liu, Tetevano, Collins, Butcher.

Referee: R Hicks (RFL).