The World Club Challenge returns this Friday as Leeds Rhinos face Australian champions Melbourne Storm, live on Sky Sports Arena.
These England versus Australia clashes have provided many memorable moments over the years. Tom Mordey looks back at 15 of the best.
15. Peacock v Perry – 2009
The World Club Challenge often sees plenty of biff as England and Australia go head to head, but who can forget Jamie Peacock and Josh Perry going hammer and tongs at each other in the first half of Manly Sea Eagles’ 2009 win over the Leeds Rhinos.
The two number tens clashed and threw a flurry of punches, sparking a brawl between the two clubs. Both forwards had ten minutes in the sin-bin to cool off, but it was Manly who added some brilliance to the brawn.
They ran in five tries to see off the Rhinos at Elland Road, Brett Stewart and Anthony Watmough scoring twice each in a 28-20 win.
Melbourne Storm vs Leeds Rhinos
February 16, 2018, 8:30am
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14. Brazen Bradford – 2002
No English side has ever scored more than Bradford in a single World Club Challenge game. They racked up 41 points in a crushing victory over a Newcastle Knights side boasting the legendary Andrew Johns.
Huddersfield was the venue in 2002 and the weather conditions certainly weren’t kind for the Australians. Wind and rain whipped round the West Yorkshire ground and the Bulls put their opponents to the sword.
They crossed for six tries, two for Michael Withers and two for Robbie Paul while Lesley Vainikolo and Daniel Gartner scored one each. A mesmerising Bradford performance.
13. Daring Down Under – 2014
No English club side had ventured Down Under for the World Club Challenge since Wigan’s famous win over Brisbane in 1994, but 20 years later, the Warriors returned to have another crack.
Unfortunately for Shaun Wane and his side in 2014, they ran into a strong Sydney Roosters side that included Sonny Bill Williams in the second row.
18-0 down at half time, Wigan fought bravely, scoring three tries of their own through Joe Burgess and Josh Charnley (2). But Michael Jennings grabbed a hat-trick for the Roosters as they ran away with a 36-14 victory.
12. Packed trophy cabinet – 2004
The early years of Super League saw the Bradford Bulls regularly lifting silverware and 2004 proved the Bulls were the very best in the game. Brian Noble’s side swept all comers aside in 2003, winning a treble of the Challenge Cup, League Leaders’ Shield and the Grand Final – the first team to do so in the Super League era.
They hosted NRL Champions Penrith at Huddersfield for the chance to hold all four trophies. And the Bulls delivered. They scored four tries through Lesley Vainikolo, Leon Pryce, Rob Parker and Logan Swann, seeing off the Panthers for a 22-4 win.
11. Burgess brilliance – 2017
Until 2017, the World Club Challenge had seen four years of Australian dominance, leaving plenty questioning the Super League clubs’ ability to compete. But then Wigan rolled into town last season. And they made Rugby League history against the Cronulla Sharks.
Tempers flared when Wigan Warriors and Cronulla Sharks met
Shaun Wane’s side registered a 22-6 victory, their fourth title, the most of any club. And it was Joe Burgess who stole the limelight on the night. On his first game back returning from the NRL, the winger grabbed a hat-trick, becoming only the second player after Michael Jennings to score a treble in this competition.
10. Widnes wonders – 1989
Rewind the clock back to 1989. Widnes were competing in the World Club Challenge and they faced Canberra at Old Trafford.
Things didn’t start well and Canberra led 12-0, dominating with a star-studded team including Mal Meninga, Laurie Daly, Ricky Stuart and Bradley Clyde.
But Widnes came storming back. Martin Offiah scored twice, with Jonathan Davies, Richard Eyres, Paul Hulme and Darren Wright all crossing to hand Widnes a famous 30-18 victory they’ll never forget.
9. Saints stuffing – Part 1 – 2015
It had been eight long years between World Club Challenge appearances for St Helens after difficult times at Old Trafford. But a Grand Final win over Wigan in 2014 gave them a crack at the Australian Champions in 2015.
Reaction to South Sydney Rabbitohs' victory back in 2015
But the South Sydney Rabbitohs were the visitors. The team co-owned by Russell Crowe turned in a Hollywood-style performance, featuring the two Burgess twins George and Tom.
Two tries came from Joel Reddy, while Glenn Stewart, Dylan Walker, Greg Inglis, Luke Keary and Chris McQueen all went over as the Bunnies hopped all over their opponents.
Saints became the second side to be nilled in the World Club Challenge, trounced 39-0.
The first? St Helens again – a 38-0 drubbing against the Sydney Roosters in 2003.
8. Saints stuffing – Part 2 – 2000
St Helens’ two nillings aren’t the only stuffing they’ve had in the competition. They took a 44-6 pummelling at the hands of the Melbourne Storm back in 2000 in the first edition of the competition since it was reinstated in the one-game format.
The Storm, steered in brilliant fashion by half-back Brett Kimmorley, ran in eight tries at the JJB Stadium. Robbie Ross scored twice, as did Scott Hill, while English fans got an early glimpse of what winger Marcus Bai could do with the ball as he crossed as well. A rude introduction to the competition for a club who’ve played out the Challenge on six occasions.
7. Melbourne magic – 2013
The Storm show might rumble into action against the Rhinos on Friday morning, but Leeds have already seen their stars up close and personal before. They were narrowly beaten at Headingley in 2013 by Melbourne, who fielded a side containing the three musketeers.
Kevin Sinfield was frustrated by his side's missed chances after their 2013 World Club Challenge defeat
With Billy Slater at full back, Cooper Cronk at scrum-half and Cameron Smith marshalling the side from dummy half, few gave Leeds a prayer. They kept it tight, but a fine try from Slater opened the scoring. Further scores from Jesse Bromwich and Tohu Harris sealed a narrow 18-14 win.
6. Thurston masterclass – 2016
It’s not just St Helens who’ve had World Club Challenge humblings. Leeds got handed a 38-4 hiding by North Queensland Cowboys as they chased the world title to go with their treble in 2015. But they ran into Johnathan Thurston.
The two sides were actually level at 4-4 going into half-time, but the half-back and his Cowboys team-mates stepped on the gas in the second half.
His high kick, dropped by Ash Handley for Kane Linnett to score, sparked a stunning second half and Thurston also scored himself, one of seven Cowboys tries.
Mitch Garbutt saw red for punching James Tamou but the day belonged to Thurston who added the final missing trophy to his sizeable collection.
5. Hello, I’m Sonny Bill – 2005
The 2005 World Club Challenge had everything at Elland Road. A high scoring 39-32 victory for the Leeds Rhinos in their first appearance in the competition.
A stunning Danny McGuire try from long range and plenty of needle against a Bulldogs side severely depleted from their 2004 title winning team. But one memorable moment stills springs to mind. And it’s one Marcus Bai will want to forget.
A teenage Sonny Bill Williams had starred in the Bulldogs’ title charge and he introduced himself to English fans in some style with a monstrous shot on the powerful Leeds winger. Sonny Bill sized up Bai and dropped him with a huge hit that left everyone inside Elland Road shuddering.
Leeds had the last laugh in this game, but the fresh-faced teenager that ended on the loosing side hasn’t done too badly in his career.
4. Catch him if you can – 2012
We’ve mentioned Leeds’ 2009 defeat to Manly earlier. But the Rhinos had the chance for revenge in 2012 when the Sea Eagles returned to England. Having played their previous four finals at Elland Road.
As Brett Stewart flung what looked like a try-scoring pass into the corner, Ryan Hall stepped in with other ideas. He intercepted and went the length of the field to send the 21,000 capacity crowd into raptures. Stunning effort.
3. Gardner’s grab – 2007
We’ve detailed all of St Helens’ problems in the World Club Challenge over the years before, but they’ve had some memorable moments too in this competition. And who will forget their thriller in Bolton in 2007, beating the Brisbane Broncos 18-14.
The Saints emulated Bradford here by holding all four trophies and they were inspired by returning captain Paul Sculthorpe who played a blinder. The winning moment didn’t come until ten minutes from time.
Sean Long’s towering bomb allowed Ade Gardner to leap high above the Broncos defenders and claim the ball for his second try of the game. Sculthorpe added the extras from the touchline and St Helens held on for a famous win.
2. Drop goal drama – 2001
2007 wasn’t even St Helens’ best win over Brisbane. That award is reserved for a nail-biting 20-18 victory back in 2001 over the Broncos, with the whole of the Reebok Stadium on edge for 80 minutes.
Saints banished the memories of that stuffing by Melbourne a year earlier, but they were 18-6 down after tries from Shaun Berrigan, Phillip Lee and Brad Meyers. Chris Joynt, Sean Long and Paul Sculthorpe scored the Saints’ four pointers, but it took nerves of steel to win the match.
It was Sculthorpe who stuck first with a drop goal, edging St Helens 19-18 in front with minutes to play before Sean Long added another one-pointer not long after to secure the Saints’ first title.
1. Wonderful Wigan – 1994
Only one side has ever won on Australian soil in the World Club Challenge. Just one. That’s the task facing Leeds this Friday. And if they’re to become the second, they need to emulate the famous Wigan class of 1994 who beat Brisbane 20-14.
In front of a packed ANZ Stadium and 54,220 baying supporters, Wigan were led by a stand-in coach in Graeme West. But he delivered something remarkable. The two sides traded three tries each, Wendall Sailor, Michael Hancock and Julian O’Neill scoring for Brisbane, while Denis Betts, Barrie-Jon Mather and Jason Robinson all crossed for Wigan.
The difference? Frano Botica’s boot, slotting all four of his goals while O’Neill could only manage one. Wigan skipper Shaun Edwards remains the only English captain to lift that World Club Challenge Down Under. Will Leeds replicate them?
Tune into Sky Sports Arena from 8.30am on Friday to catch Melbourne Storm v Leeds Rhinos in the World Club Challenge.