'Get that into you': How Saints upset Panthers to claim world title

St Helens star Jack Welsby admits he feared a repeat of England’s golden point World Cup loss to Samoa after spilling a kick that enabled Penrith to send the World Club Challenge into over-time.

Welsby fumbled before Samoa’s Stephen Crichton kicked the match winning field goal and he put down a Nathan Cleary bomb that led to Brian To’o’s 79th minute try for the Panthers.

“I thought ‘what have I done’. It was reminiscent of the Samoa game where I knocked on and I thought ‘I have done it again for Saints’,” said Welsby, who was man-of-the-match in the 13-12 triumph.

“It is a similar group of lads who just worked so hard to get to where they are, and I have gone and bombed it again.”

The Super League champions had four England players in their line-up and a fifth, Joe Batchelor, ran onto the field in a moon boot after Lewis Dodd’s 83rd minute field goal.

With the Panthers boasting six members of Samoa’s World Cup squad, the heartache of November 27-26 loss was always in the back of the mind of Welsby, Morgan Knowles, Tommy Makinson and Matty Lees.

This is the greatest English rugby league achievement in living memory.
Prop Walmsley added: “We have got four or five lads who were in the English side that came up short in the World Cup semi-final and they played against so many of them [Panthers] but they have come out here and shown what they are about.”

After winning a record four consecutive grand finals, St Helens confirmed their standing as the greatest team of the Super League era by becoming just the second English team to win in Australia.

Wigan last achieved the feat in 1994 when they defeated the Broncos in Brisbane and new Saints coach Paul Wellens - a St Helens legend - described the win as the most significant in the club’s 150-year history.

Wellens revealed St Helens had devoted an entire training session to limiting the impact of Nathan Cleary's kicking game and Penrith coach, Ivan Cleary, said the English side was capable of winning the NRL.

Maybe they win it. I think they would get pretty close.
"They are full of great players, they are a winning club. It’s hard to say but they would probably go all right.”

However, Welsby said the victory didn’t completely erase the pain of England’s 27-26 World Cup exit at Emirates Stadium.  


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Story first published on NRL.com

Brad Walter, NRL Senior Reporter