Leeds Rhinos 26-12 Manly Sea Eagles
Leeds (16) 26
- Tries: Hall 2, Watkins, Jones-Bishop, Ablett
- Goals: Sinfield 3
Manly (6) 12
- Tries: Stewart, Cherry-Evans
- Goals: Lyon 2
Leeds Rhinos became the first Super League club since 2008 to win the World Club Challenge with a compelling win over NRL champions Manly Sea Eagles.
Leeds took the game to their opponents, claiming the first two tries through Kallum Watkins and Ryan Hall.
Brett Stewart struck back for Manly, but Hall grabbed a second try to make it 16-6 to the home side at half-time.
Daly Cherry-Evans' try gave Manly hope, but late scores from Ben Jones-Bishop and Carl Ablett decided it.
Leeds' victory was their third world crown, equalling the number of wins achieved by both Wigan and Bradford, but it was their first in front of their own fans at Headingley.
Leeds coach Brian McDermott
“It's still sinking in to be honest. I feel very proud and very humble. I'll get a bit excited when nobody is watching”
As they have done at international level, Australian sides have dominated their English opponents in this fixture for the past three seasons, a run that began with Leeds' 28-20 defeat by Manly in 2009.
With 12 members of the side beaten that night still in the Rhinos squad (10 of whom were involved in this match), revenge was high on the hosts' agenda, as well as national pride.
Brian McDermott's men achieved both courtesy of an admittedly varied performance that brimmed with attacking ferocity in the first half and depended on defensive determination in the second.
They were initially assisted somewhat by the lack of preparation afforded to opponents who have yet to start their domestic season and opted against warm-up games in this country in the build-up to this match.
From the first pass after the kick-off, Jason King's knock-on gifted the incentive to Leeds, and a sloppy offside soon after only encouraged them further.
The Sea Eagles survived the early onslaught, but the Rhinos would not be denied for long.
With 18 minutes gone and Leeds deep in Manly territory, Brent Webb's superbly-timed short pass allowed Watkins to break through and score, Kevin Sinfield adding the extras.
LEEDS AT THE WORLD CLUB CHALLENGE
- 2005: Leeds 39-32 Canterbury
- 2008: Leeds 11-4 Melbourne
- 2009: Leeds 20-28 Manly
- 2010: Leeds 10-18 Melbourne
- 2012: Leeds 26-12 Manly
Soon after, Hall intercepted what looked certain to be a try-scoring Brett Stewart pass in the corner, running the length of the field to double Leeds' advantage, sparking jubilation amongst the vast majority of the 21,000 fans inside Headingley.
Manly hit back with a neat try from Brett Stewart, following the concession of a penalty by Ablett, but Leeds would have the final say of the half when Hall rose above two converging Manly men to pluck a cross-field Sinfield kick out of the air and dive over from close-range.
The second half was a different story as the Australian side illustrated that rustiness is temporary, but class is permanent.
Assisted by a succession of penalties conceded by the home side, Manly dominated possession and brought themselves to within four points when Cherry-Evans darted over the line and former St Helens star Jamie Lyon kicked a second goal.
Sensing their opportunity, the visitors pressed for a lead and thought they had found it when Steve Matai crashed over after collecting a high kick. However, upon consulting the video referee, official Ashley Klein ruled it out for a push on Watkins in the build-up.
Leeds' second-half resolve was rewarded when Rob Burrow's classy break allowed Jones-Bishop to score in the corner to all but give the Rhinos victory. Ablett touched down from Sinfield's grubber kick to ensure that was the case.
VIEWS FROM THE DRESSING ROOM
Leeds coach Brian McDermott:
"We did it the tough way and I don't think we'd want it any other way. It was an old-fashioned game of rugby league.
"We looked scruffy at times but we were brave and courageous. There was a period in the second half when we were gone.
"I wouldn't say we were at our most vintage offensively, but you deserve to win World Club Challenges when you defend like that. It came down to how much the fellas were prepared to bend their backs."
Manly coach Geoff Toovey:
"We prepared very well for this game. We had several months of pre-season training and played a trial match so there are no excuses.
"We didn't come up to our usual mark. I'm very disappointed with our execution but all credit to Leeds.
"They did all those one percenters better than we did."
Leeds: Webb; Jones-Bishop, Watkins, Hardaker, Hall; Sinfield, McGuire; Leuluai, Burrow, Peacock, Jones-Buchanan, Delaney, Ablett.
Replacements: Bailey, Griffin, McShane, Clarkson.
Manly: B Stewart; D Williams, Lyon, Matai, Oldfield; Foran, Cherry-Evans; King, Ballin, Kite, Watmough, T Williams, G Stewart.
Replacements: Rose, Lussick, Buhrer, Mauro.
Referee: Ashley Klein (London).