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Bevan French stars in World Club Challenge

Jarred Cross -

Bevan French has steered Wigan Warriors to their fifth World Club Challenge win with a man-of-the-match performance over Penrith Panthers on Sunday.

The Warriors backed their Super League title with a 16-12 win at home at DW Stadium

World Club Challenge matches pin the respective Australia and the UK champions against one another.

The 2023 Man of Steel (the Super League's award for the best individual player over the season) started early with a no-look two-man cutout pass to put Abbas Miski over for first points.

The 28-year-old had a hand in the hosts second try with another cutout leading to a string of outside and inside passes for Kruise Leeming to score.

It regained the lead after Nathan Cleary evened things in the 16th minute.

French was robbed of a wonder-try to grow the margin late in the contest after speeding past the Panthers defensive line on the end of a chip-kick to place the ball down under the posts.

He was offside on referral to the video referee.

Wigan held on to secure world title honours with French adjudged best afield with 38 running metres and two tackles to go with his influence on the game at five-eighth.

A controversial conclusion came with 'insufficient evidence' Penrith centre Taylan May grounded the ball in the corner after the final siren.

The hosts pulled off a gritty defensive effort to claim bragging rights after missing to the Roosters 20-8 in 2019.

French said he was "relieved" after a "crazy" finish with a point to prove over the NRL premiers.

"I don't think you can sum it up, to be honest," he said in a post-match interview.

"We knew it was going to be tough…I wasn't expecting it to go down to the last second.

"We didn't get down to their half much, so it was just a dig deep (effort) for 80 minutes, really. It was nothing flash, nothing fancy. Just tough.

"It's a weird one for me, coming into this. I think a lot of my teammates, being here from England, it means a lot to them. I was trying to put myself in their shoes - the way the Super League is compared to the NRL here…I'm just glad I got to do this for my teammates.

French played 47 games for Parramatta before heading to England in 2019.

He twice represented the Indigenous All Stars between 2017-2019.

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