Two tries each from Brett Stewart and Anthony Watmough helped Manly Sea Eagles beat Leeds 28-20 and win the World Club Challenge for the first time on Sunday.
The Elland Road victory also ended Super League’s five-year monopoly on the trophy.
Stewart and the outstanding Watmough scored a try either side of the break, but the Australian team’s three-try burst in the opening seven minutes of the second period proved decisive.
Keith Senior, Ryan Hall and Danny McGuire restored some respectability with late tries, but the Rhinos, who were bidding to become the first team to retain the title, were never in the hunt. Leeds received a boost before kickoff with England scrum-half Rob Burrow passing a fitness test on the back injury that had forced him out of the first three games of the season.
But Australian international Watmough ended Burrow’s night in the 16th minute when he flattened him with a high tackle.
Number 10s Jamie Peacock and Josh Perry were sent to the sin-bin for a punch-up in the 20th minute and that lit the fuse for a fantastic end to the half. From the resulting penalty, Manly worked the ball close to the line with fullback Stewart eventually scrambling over from close range, and Matt Orford added the extras.
The Sea Eagles had a second try eight minutes later. Australian international Watmough charged onto Orford’s delayed pass, broke the line and raced past fullback Lee Smith to touch down. Orford again converted for a 12-0 lead but they blew a golden chance for a third try in the 32nd minute.
Watmough found Brett Stewart but he failed to gather the ball with the line at his mercy. The Super League champions made the most of their let-off to grab a lifeline three minutes before the break.
Glenn Stewart made a meal of Kevin Sinfield’s kick and McGuire was held up on the line by a superb Orford tackle, but the ball came loose and Jamie Jones-Buchanan touched down.
Robinson left the final decision with video referee Steve Ganson and he gave Leeds the benefit of the doubt, but Sinfield then missed the kick.
Manly took control of the game with three tries in the first seven minutes of the second half and Leeds did not manage to make up the difference.
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