Friday Flashback: World Club Challenge
Re-live our previous four games in the World Club challenge:
2000 - Melbourne Storm 44 def St Helens 6
After a two year hiatus the World Club Challenge was brought back as Melbourne Storm ventured to the UK to take on St Helens with a full strength side on the back of their maiden Premiership triumph. Within minutes after kick-off their dominance was imposed as Aaron Mule capped off a brilliant team move down the right to open the scoring. Wayne Evans capitalized on some clever Tony Martin play before some fancy Scott Hill footwork set up a 20-2 lead at the break. The purple party continued to roll on in the second half as Hill and Robbie Ross put on an absolute clinic, with both playmakers scoring doubles in the 38-point win. The game also saw Robbie Kearns captain the side following the retirement of Glenn Lazarus after the 1999 season.
2008 - Melbourne 4 def by Leeds Rhinos 11
Elland Rd, Leeds
Storm were without a host of their 2007 Premiership players including Cameron Smith, Greg Inglis, Michael Crocker and Ben Cross for the first ever meeting between these two Clubs. Matt Geyer was thrust into the hooker position in the absence of Smith and the move appeared to pay dividends early on when he played a hand in sending Ryan Hoffman over in the 16th minute. It was only one try apiece in the first half but it did not detract from the gripping affair. In the second half though the difference maker proved to be Kevin Sinfield. The Leeds skipper had his magic boots on, kicking three goals for the match as well as a late field goal which ultimately proved the difference. The result was the fifth consecutive year the English Champions had defeated their Australian counterparts in the World Club Challenge.
2010 - Melbourne 18 def Leeds Rhinos 10
Elland Rd, Leeds
For the second time in three years these two sides met to decide which would be crowned the best rugby league team in the world. With no Cooper Cronk in the side it was left to Cameron Smith to don the No.7 jersey with Ryan Hichcliffe shifting to hooker. It was a cold and rainy night in Leeds, and the home side used the conditions to their advantage from the outset when they caught their Melbourne visitors napping with a short kick off to start the game. The Rhinos edged in front courtesy of a penalty but suffered a blow soon after when captain Kevin Sinfield, man of the match in 2008, left the field due to injury. Both teams traded penalty goals in a try-less first half to be tied 4-4 at half-time. Leeds flyer Danny McGuire sent the home crowd to their feet after the restart when he collected a Storm grubber kick and ran the length of the field to give the Rhinos a six-point lead. That awoke the purple beast though as Melbourne responded through Luke MacDougall. Leeds should have hit the front with just six minutes to play however Kallum Watkins dropped the ball when he appeared certain to score. Storm winger Anthony Quinn then made the home side pay with a 78th minute try that sealed the game and the World Club Challenge trophy for Melbourne.
2013: Melbourne 18 def Leeds Rhinos 14
The last time these two teams met saw an epic encounter play out at Headingley. A classic Cooper Cronk pass saw Ryan Hoffman break through and offload to Billy Slater for the games opening try in the 20th minute. A Smith conversion, followed by a penalty, extended the margin before Leeds hit back with a try and penalty of their own to ensure the teams headed for the break all-square at eight points apiece. In need of a game breaker, it would be a young Jesse Bromwich who stepped up with a bulldozing 20-metre run that saw him break through four Rhinos tackles to score near the posts. Storm then pieced together a 50-metre play that ended up in the hands of Tohu Harris to score. To Leeds’ credit they scored in the closing stages to set up a tense finish but the Storm defence was able to hold its nerve and claim victory in what proved to be a rugby league classic.