2018 World Club Challenge
|2018World Club Challenge|
|Date||16 February 2018|
|Referees||Gerard Sutton |
The 2018 World Club Challenge (also known as the 2018 Downer World Club Challenge was the 26th staging of the World Club Challenge. It took place on 16 February 2018, and featured Super League champions Leeds Rhinos, and NRL winners Melbourne Storm. This was the fourth time the two clubs have met in the World Club Challenge, having previously played each other in 2008, 2010 and 2013. It was the first time since 2014 and only the fourth time since the World Club Challenge began that the game was played in Australia.
In October 2017 it was suggested that the 2018 World Club Series could be scrapped completely based on the top Australian teams' reluctance to travel to the UK for the 2017 series which resulted in the Series being scaled back to two games only. In particular the second game of the 2017 series only featured an invited team from the NRL. In addition, the 2017 Rugby League World Cup being played in Australia at the end of 2017, meant that the preseason for Australian teams was going to be unusually short ahead of the 2018 season and therefore they did not want to make the trip to England for the 2018 series. The Melbourne Storm (2017 NRL Premiers) in particular, were reluctant to travel meaning the series was in danger of cancellation for the first time since the 1990s as it is the Storm that was playing in the World Club Challenge.
In June 2017, the Super League announced that the Australian city of Wollongong would host the first ever Super League game outside Europe. Wigan Warriors "hosted" Hull F.C. in the game at WIN Stadium on Saturday, February 10, in which the Warriors prevailed, 24–10. In addition and as part of this trip to Australia, Wigan and Hull would play two exhibition games against South Sydney Rabbitohs and St George Illawarra Dragons respectively. Early media speculation suggested a switch to Melbourne for the World Club Challenge and that these fixtures could form part of the World club Series; however, as these were separately arranged fixtures they were ultimately not considered part of the World Club Series.
On 14 November 2017, it was confirmed that Leeds Rhinos would travel to Australia to play Melbourne Storm at AAMI Park in Melbourne on 16 February 2018, and that the World Club Challenge would return to a single game for the first time since 2014.
Leeds finished Super League XXII's regular season in 2nd place and went on to defeat 1st-placed Castleford Tigers, 24–6, in the grand final, qualifying the Rhinos for their 8th World Club Challenge.
The Storm finished the 2017 NRL season in 1st place and won the Minor Premiership. They then went undefeated through the finals series to claim the 2017 Premiership with a 34–6 win in the 2017 NRL Grand Final over the North Queensland Cowboys, qualifying Melbourne for their fifth World Club Challenge, and first since 2013.
The Melbourne Storm made their team announcement on 13 February 2018.
|Melbourne Storm||Pos.||Leeds Rhinos|
|1. Billy Slater||Fullback||24. Jack Walker|
|2. Suliasi Vunivalu||Wing||2. Tom Briscoe|
|3. Will Chambers||Centre||3. Kallum Watkins|
|4. Curtis Scott||Centre||4. Liam Sutcliffe|
|5. Josh Addo-Carr||Wing||5. Ryan Hall|
|6. Cameron Munster||Five-eighth / Stand Off||6. Joel Moon|
|7. Brodie Croft||Halfback / Scrum Half||7. Richie Myler|
|8. Jesse Bromwich||Prop||8. Adam Cuthbertson|
|9. Cameron Smith||Hooker||9. Matt Parcell|
|10. Tim Glasby||Prop||10. Brad Singleton|
|11. Felise Kaufusi||2nd Row||11. Jamie Jones-Buchanan|
|12. Ryan Hoffman||2nd Row||12. Carl Ablett|
|13. Dale Finucane||Lock / Loose Forward||13. Stevie Ward|
|14. Brandon Smith||Interchange||14. Brad Dwyer|
|15. Nelson Asofa Solomona||Interchange||15. Brett Delaney|
|16. Kenny Bromwich||Interchange||18. Jimmy Keinhorst|
|17. Christian Welch||Interchange||23. Jack Ormondroyd|
|Craig Bellamy||Coach||Brian McDermott|
|Melbourne Storm||38 – 4||Leeds Rhinos|
Jesse Bromwich (17') 1
Brodie Croft (24) 1
Suliasi Vunivalu (40) 1
Nelson Asofa-Solomona (49') 1
Felise Kaufusi (56') 1
Will Chambers (71') 1
Dale Finucane (80') 1
(25', 36' pen, 40', 50')
Cameron Munster 1/1
|1st: 18 – 4
2nd: 20 – 0
1 (9') Ryan Hall
0/1 Kallum Watkins
- "Downer partners with World Club Challenge". melbournestorm.com.au. Retrieved 6 February 2018.
- "Melbourne Win World Club Challenge". BBC Sport. Retrieved 16 February 2018.
- "World Club Challenge set to be scrapped?". seriousaboutrl.com. Retrieved 4 November 2017.
- "Wollongong to host historic Super League game". foxsports.com.au. Retrieved 4 November 2017.
- "2018 World Club Challenge: Leeds Rhinos to play Melbourne Storm in Australia". BBC Sport. 13 November 2017. Retrieved 12 December 2017.
- "Super League: Wigan Warriors to face Hull FC in Australia in 2018". BBC Sport. 26 July 2017. Retrieved 12 December 2017.
- "Team Announcement - World Club Challenge". melbournestorm.com.au. Retrieved 14 February 2018.