Friend leads Roosters to WCC win
Jake Friend and Mitchell Pearce put on virtuoso performances and Michael Jennings scored a hat-trick as the Sydney Roosters won the World Club Challenge 36-14, beating a lacklustre Wigan Warriors outfit.
The Tricolours built the win on the back of a solid 18-0 first half shutout, overcoming a brief second-half fightback and an error-riddled performance from Sonny Bill Williams to make it back-to-back WCC titles for the Aussie clubs over their Super League counterparts following Melbourne's win over Leeds in 2013.
Pearce and Friend were the architects of the Roosters' dominant first half performance. Pearce was heavily involved, showing great vision for the Roosters' opening try inside the first five minutes, taking the ball to the short side and sending Jennings through a gap.
Man of the match Friend set up the second when his flat ball from dummy half found the chest of a rampaging Sam Moa who crashed over under the posts to make it 12-0 after 13 minutes.
The busy hooker set up the next try just after the 20-minute mark following a great Pearce offload. Friend grubbered through for himself and while he couldn't get there Jennings was on hand to clean up the scraps and earn himself a double.
The Roosters were patchy for the rest of the half, repeatedly offering Wigan chances up their end of the field, but a flat-footed and disorganised Warriors outfit never really looked like breaching a Tricoloured defensive wall that proved so tough to crack in the NRL in 2013.
Former Rabbitoh Eddy Pettybourne found himself on report for a big swinging arm that sent Roosters winger Shaun Kenny-Dowall flying. Kenny-Dowall dusted himself off and looked to have scored in the next set but put a foot into touch on his way to the line, with the hosts taking an 18-0 lead into the break.
Wigan hit back shortly after the resumption through winger Joe Burgess, who cashed in on an overlap to score in the corner.
Sonny Bill Williams let the Warriors off the hook when an attempted offload found a red and white jersey but a scrappy Wigan allowed Jennings to pounce on a loose ball that found the ground, the centre racing 30 metres to score his third try and stretch the Roosters to a 24-4 lead.
Wigan and English Test winger Josh Charnley scored the next two tries of the match. The first came when Anthony Minichiello fluffed an attempt at defusing a bomb from Wigan halfback Matty Smith - one of several such errors in a patchy performance from the skipper.
Charnley's second came around the 60-minute mark when a series of repeat sets on the Roosters line finally paid dividends for Wigan, but Smith couldn't convert and 24-14 was as close as Wigan got.
In a carbon copy of Moa's try, fellow Roosters prop Jared Waerea-Hargreaves crashed over from a Friend flat ball, then Williams made partial amends for his sloppy night when a classy flick allowed Mitchell Aubusson to put Kenny-Dowall over in the corner and ice the victory.