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Sydney Roosters beat St Helens 20-12 in World Club Challenge

ST. HELENS, England (AP) The Sydney Roosters overcame a battling St. Helens 20-12 to win the rugby league World Club Challenge a record-equaling fourth time on Saturday.

The English Super League champion Saints took a sixth-minute lead through Luke Thompson and were in a full-blooded contest for more than an hour until they were eventually undone by the skill of the National Rugby League champions.

Sydney equaled the record of four wins held by Wigan and Melbourne and became the first team to retain its world crown.

It also continued the NRL's recent domination of this event. The NRL champions have won 10 of the last 12 clashes against the Super League's best.

It was clear the Australian club was still in preseason -- its lack of timing resulted in a number of penalties for high tackles - but there was plenty to encourage hopes of a hat trick of domestic titles.

The Roosters lost internationals Cooper Cronk and Latrell Mitchell from their 2019 Grand Final-winning team and opted to rest captain Boyd Cordner, but were still able to field 14 members of their premiership-winning team.

They started slow, conceding the try to Canterbury-bound Thompson, but hit the front with two tries in 10 minutes by left wing Daniel Tupou and center Joseph Manu.

Tom Makinson had tries disallowed on both sides of the break, and that proved to be Saints' last chance for glory.

The Roosters were more clinical, as they demonstrated on the hour when Manu scored his second try despite the efforts of three defenders.

The result was certain when speedy prop Siosiua Taukeiaho broke through the first line of defence inside his own half and put standoff Luke Keary away for the clinching try.

Taukeiaho landed the conversion and added a penalty, although Saints managed a consolation score three minutes from the end, much to the delight of the 16,108 crowd, when prop Alex Walmsley barged his way to the line and Makinson kicked his second goal.

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Updated February 22, 2020