Penrith lose to Wigan amid controversial drama in World Club Challenge

Penrith's quest for a first World Club Challenge title has once again come up short.

Pictured left is Penrith star Nathan Cleary and teammate Taylan May on the right.
Nathan Cleary's Penrith Panthers were controversially denied a try to level the match after the final siren. Pic: Getty/Fox League

Penrith's hopes of claiming the club's first World Club Challenge title have been brutally dashed after a controversial 16-12 defeat to Wigan at DW Stadium on Sunday morning (AEDT). The NRL premiers thought they'd levelled the match after the final siren when Taylan May dived over the tryline in the corner, but the referee sent it up as a no try and the video referee couldn't find sufficient evidence to overturn it.

Replays suggested May got part of the ball down over the tryline before he was tackled and held up by a number of Wigan defenders. However, the referee's initial on-field call of 'no try' proved crucial as the video referee deemed it was not a clear-cut try that would have locked up the scores with a sideline conversion attempt to come.

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The call looked harsh on the NRL premiers, who were also left perplexed by a controversial second half try for Wigan's Jake Wardle. The Warriors centre appeared to ground the ball well short of the line, with a number of Penrith players preventing him from getting the ball across the line.

Unlike the May incident at the death for Penrith though, the referee awarded the try to Wardle, despite there being significant doubts around whether he got the ball over the tryline. The incident was also looked at by the video referee but with the bodies of Penrith tacklers Brian To'o and Dylan Edwards obscuring the apparent grounding, the evidence was again deemed insufficient to overturn the ref's on-field call.

League world fumes over contentious calls

Former England international James Graham and fellow NRL great Braith Anasta both said on Fox League's coverage of the match that the May incident looked like more a try than the one awarded to Wardle. The two contentious calls proved the biggest talking points after the match, with many furious fans describing it as "embarrassing" officiating and claiming the Panthers were "robbed".

Penrith fail in bid to win club's first World Club Challenge

The Panthers were desperate to win the club's first ever World Club Challenge title after losing to St Helen's last year but will leave England bitterly disappointed ahead of their NRL season opener against the Melbourne Storm on March 8. For Super League champions Wigan though, the victory sees them join the Sydney Roosters in winning the world title five times.

Penrith were far from their best throughout the contest in a worrying sign for coach Ivan Cleary. His men made six errors inside the opening 25 minutes after they went behind and the Panthers players failed to click in attack. The NRL champions struggled to find their rhythm and polish on final-tackle plays.

Penrith were held without a kick on four sets in the first 20 minutes and failed to cash in on their territorial dominance. Instead, it was former Parramatta star and Wigan five-eighth Bevan French who delivered the more telling contributions with some superb passing.

Seen here, Wigan celebrate after winning the World Club Challenge against Penrith.
Wigan celebrate after winning the World Club Challenge against Penrith. Pic: Getty

He created the first points of the match with a double cut-out ball for winger Abbas Miski, while another pass helped former Gold Coast forward Kruise Leeming get over to give the hosts a 10-6 lead. Penrith halfback Nathan Cleary got his side on the board, scoring after his own kick was put down by Miski.

Panthers fullback Dylan Edwards then gave the visitors their first lead of the match on halftime when he picked a hole in the Wigan defence and darted across the tryline from close range. Wardle's controversial four-pointer in the second half once again gave Wigan the ascendancy, and the late heartbreak for May and the Panthers was compounded by a late injury to winger Sunia Turuva that saw him leave the ground.

with AAP

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