It is the World Cup Challenge that precedes the official 2017 NRL Telstra Premiership, and already, the Cronulla Sharks have a target on their backs that will only grow larger following the club’s upset at the hands of the Wigan Warriors.
The Sharks were on the wrong side of the score from the outset following two tries from NRL discard Joe Burgess that provided the Warriors with a 10 – 0 advantage at the half. The Warriors added to that advantage in the second and walked away with a 22 – 6 victory in front of a substantial crowd of their supporters that included a third try by Burgess, who was sent packing last season by the Roosters, and then the Souths.
Not only did the reigning premiers lose the game, they also discarded their cools, boiling over as the result of being on the wrong end of an 11 – 7 penalty count.
To the over 21,000 fans at DW Stadium, the officiating was perfect, however, Cronulla Coach Shane Flanagan chose the adjective “awful” to describe it.
Tensions were high throughout the game, but in the end, the Warriors were WCC champs for the first time in over 20 years, not having won since 1994.