Manly win World Cup Challenge
SECOND rower Anthony Watmough blitzed Leeds to make Manly the first Australian winner of the World Club Challenge in six years on Sunday - only to be told by his captain he was now expected to repeat the performance every week.
Watmough scored two tries, smashed Rhinos playmaker Rob Burrow out of the Elland Road clash and won Man of the Match honours as the NRL premiers ran out 28-20 winners in front of 32,669 fans after leading a sometimes-violent clash 26-4 with 16 minutes left.
But if 25-year-old Australia international Watmough was expecting a round of applause from skipper Matt Orford, he was in for a surprise.
“That's the standard “Choc” has now set and he needs to fulfil that week-in, week-out,” half-back Orford said.
“He can't just be inconsistent. He's a senior player now. He's played for Australia. I expect that from him ... and I'm going to be telling him that too.”
Although Manly was in control for large stretches of the brawl-smattered game, there was no shortage of controversy - starting with Watmough's thunderous hit on 164cm half-back Burrow in the 16th minute which attracted a penalty.
Burrow did not return.
Four minutes later England captain Jamie Peacock and Manly prop Josh Perry traded ferocious blows in backplay, with others rushing in to get involved.
“I haven't played in a game like that for a while,” said two-try Brett Stewart.
“There were four or five fights.”
And just short of half-time, video ref Steve Ganson found himself at the centre of drama once more when he awarded a try to Leeds second rower Jamie Jones Buchanan after five-eighth Danny McGuire appeared to lose the ball over the line.
But Manly took a stranglehold on the contest following the break.
Adam Cuthbertson and Michael Robertson combined before Carl Ablett fumbled, and Stewart was on hand for his second try.
Watmough's try-brace was completed a minute later - there was an offside play on the preceding tackle - and then centre Steve Matai ran straight from the kick-off over 80 metres for a 22-point lead.
Manly coach Des Hasler said: “The scoreline probably didn't reflect how the game really was. I thought we were in control of the match for most of the time out there.”
Orford said his team had expected some rough-house play, but Leeds coach Brian McClennan professed to being surprised at the violence.
Keith Senior, Ryan Hall and McGuire made the score more respectable with late Rhinos tries, McClennan saying: “We're shattered”.
“We had a chance to make history but it wasn't to be. Manly ... are known for taking a lot of sports science and conditioning into their team and you could see it.”
Hasler said moving the WCC to Australia and expanding it to more teams was worth considering.