St. George Illawarra Dragons


St. George Illawarra Dragons

Infobox rugby league club2
clubname = St. George Illawarra Dragons


fullname = St. George Illawarra Dragons Rugby League Football Club
nickname = Saints, Red V, Red and Whites
shortname = Dragons
founded = 23 September 1998
ground = WIN Stadium
OKI Jubilee Stadium
capacity = 20,000
20,541
ceo = flagicon|Australia Peter Doust
coach = flagicon|Australia Wayne Bennett
captain = flagicon|Australia Ben Hornby
URL = [http://www.dragons.com.au dragons.com.au]
league = National Rugby League
currentseason = 2008
currentposition = 7th
premierships = 0
premiershipyears = 0
runnerups = 1
runnerupyears = 1999
minorpremierships = 0
minorpremiershipyears = 0
spoons = 0
spoonyears = 0
c

mostc
flagicon|AustraliaBen Hornby
points = 517
mostpoints = flagicon|Australia Mark Riddell
url = [http://www.dragons.com.au www.dragons.com.au]
current = St. George Illawarra Dragons 2009
homejersey = St. George Illawarra Dragons home jersey 1999.svg
awayjersey = St. George Illawarra away jersey 2005.svg

The St. George Illawarra Dragons are an Australian professional rugby league football team. Their top team compete in the National Rugby League's Telsta Premiership, the top rugby league football competition in Australasia and their Under 20's side play in the Toyota Cup. The St. George Illawarra Dragons entered the NRL competition in 1999 as a joint venture between the St. George Dragons and the Illawarra Steelers. They officially formed as the game’s first joint venture on September 23, 1998.

St. George Illawarra remains the only cross-city team in the NRL. They have their headquarters and rugby league clubs in both Wollongong and Kogarah in Sydney and train and play games regularly at WIN Stadium in Wollongong as well as at OKI Jubilee Stadium in Kogarah.

History

In the wake of the Super League war of 1995 and 1996, and the resulting split competition of 1997, the Illawarra Steelers found themselves struggling financially and seemed unlikely to survive past 1999. The St. George Dragons largely financed a proposal for a joint venture which would see the St George Illawarra Dragons playing in both Kogarah and Wollongong. Essentially, St George would provide the money while the Illawarra would provide a broader junior base. With the NRL's intention to rationalise the competition from 20 teams down to 14 teams and with substantial financial incentives and a relaxing of salary cap requirements for joint ventures, the Dragons and the Steelers ensured their survival by forming the League's first joint venture on September 23, 1998.

Joint ventures being a new concept in Australian rugby league, the public watched closely in anticipation of success or failure. No-one was certain how the top players sourced from the joint venture's two feeder clubs would perform when they ran out onto the field. They were unsuccessful in their first outing, losing to the Parramatta Eels 20-10, but by the 4th round they had started to form some cohesion and would go on to achieve a top 8 position on the competition ladder by the end of the regular season.

In the semi-finals the Dragons won against the Melbourne Storm at Olympic Park, before returning to Sydney to dispose of the Sydney Roosters and Cronulla to reach the Grand Final.

In the Grand Final the Dragons were leading by 14-0 at the break. A fairytale of a maiden title in their first year seemed destined to come true; something of an advertisement to any other clubs considering the option of a joint venture, but the Storm recovered from their poor start and went into the final minutes of the game with the Dragons leading by 18-14. The Dragons were forced to perform a drop kick from their own goal line, and on the fifth tackle Brett Kimmorley kicked high towards the Dragon's corner of the field. As the Storm's winger Craig Smith caught the ball over the try-line he was knocked unconscious in a tackle by Jamie Ainscough and lost the ball. Referee Bill Harrigan deferred to the video referee who ruled a penalty try on the grounds that contact had been made with the head, giving Melbourne a 20-18 lead and the premiership title.

After their worst start to a season yet (losing 5 of their first 6 games) the St. George Illawarra side finished second in a close season on the ladder at completion of the 2005 season, just behind minor premiers the Parramatta Eels on points difference. After progressing to the finals they defeated local rivals the Cronulla-Sutherland Sharks 28-22 in the quarter final of the finals series though the Dragons eventually fell 12-20 to eventual champions the Wests Tigers in the Preliminary Final.

The Dragons broke the ground record at WIN Stadium twice in the 2005 season. First against rivals the Sydney Roosters and then at their home quarter final game against the Cronulla Sharks.

After a shaky start to the 2006 season, the Dragons put on a mid season 7 game winning streak. This was followed by an unfortunate form slump, with a record five consecutive losses, only to return to form with a victory over the Tigers, and continue this positive form leading into the finals. The Dragons ended the regular season in sixth position.

In 2006, the Dragons embarked on a finals campaign in which they would play their previous grand final opponents, starting with the Brisbane Broncos at Suncorp Stadium to whom the Dragons lost 14-6 in the 1993 Grand Final, but, in 2006, won 20-4 to march on to week 2. The following week they played the Manly Sea Eagles, who defeated the Dragons in the 1996 Grand Final. The Dragons won 28-0. The following week they played the Melbourne Storm. The Storm had previously beaten the Dragons in a controversial grand final which saw Craig Smith (Melbourne Storm winger playing his last game) score a penalty try after Dragons winger Jamie Ainscough had tackled him high. The rematch saw the Dragons lose 24-10 and bow out of season 2006.

A major injury to star player Mark Gasnier in the 2007 Charity Shield match against South Sydney Rabbitohs provided, once again, a shakey start to the 2007 season. Combined with the loss of key players such as Luke Bailey, Trent Barrett and Shaun Timmins in the off-season, the Dragons faced NRL newcomers, the Gold Coast Titans, in Round 1. The Dragons won the historic match 20-18, however lost 6 more matches after that leaving the Dragons sitting in 15th place on the NRL Ladder. In Round 8, the Dragons pulled of an impressive victory against the Penrith Panthers with a score of 28-16. The Dragons also pulled off a great win at Oki Jubilee Stadium against the Brisbane Broncos 11-4. This team was the most inexperienced that the Dragons have ever sent out onto a field. By round 15, however, the Dragons had lost 3 games in a row, anchoring them to the bottom of the ladder, and making them firm favourites to take out the wooden spoon for the first time in the club's history.

In Round 17, (St. George Illawarra vs. Canberra Raiders at WIN Stadium), the Dragons scored four times more points than their previous game average, leading 22-10 at halftime before Josh Morris’ 80-metre breakaway try in the 49th minute put the issue beyond doubt. The Dragons equalled their highest ever score and it was their largest victory in three years. They also made a season-high 31 offloads. Canberra, who’d won the past six games between the sides, missed 65 tackles and didn’t have one player who made 100 metres in the game – a first this year. The Dragons climbed to 13th on the NRL ladder, overtaking the 14th-placed Raiders.

Round 18 was a disappointment, losing 44-16 against the New Zealand Warriors at Mt. Smart Stadium in Auckland. In round 19 star player Mark Gasnier returned from what was thought to be a season ending injury. He started the match at five-eighth as the team faced the Penrith Panthers. The Dragons season ended with a 28-24 loss to the Manly Sea Eagles at Brookvale Oval on Sunday, September 2nd. They ended on 13th place with 20 competition points.

Having failed to bring the club a premiership during his current tenure with the Dragons and coming off contract at the end of the year, Coach Nathan Brown has had heat on him from 2007 to bring the Dragons up and away from the bottom of the ladder. Since the start of the 2008 season, the Dragons had 1 win in their first 6 matches causing Peter Doust (Dragons CEO), to bring in a new coach (in the case of Brisbane Broncos current coach Wayne Bennett) for the 2009 season up until 2011. The club received a boost in May when former Union and League (Brisbane Broncos) star Wendell Sailor joined the team after a 2-year ban from professional sport in Australia due to his cocaine controversy.

The club signed South Sydney Rabbitohs player Ben Rogers from an immediate release to join the Dragons on 12 June but released Jason Ryles (on request by Wayne Bennett) from his contract to join the Les Catalans Dragons in the English Super League for 2009. [cite news|url=http://illawarra.yourguide.com.au/news/local/sport/rugby-league/ryles-quits-dragons/794116.aspx|title=Ryles quits Dragons|last=Webster|first=Andrew|date=2008-06-21|work=Illawarra Mercury|accessdate=2008-06-21] . Days later they signed New Zealand international and Melbourne Storm player Jeremy Smith for 3 seasons. On 15 July, it was announced that captain Mark Gasnier would not be returning after the end of the 2008 season to join the Stade Francais Rugby Union team in France. The deal is worth around $1 million a year.

They finished the regular season 7th place on the ladder which could have been 6th if they scored at least 2 points in their Round 26 match with the Sydney Roosters. They made it to the first week of the finals, but unfortunately lost to the Manly-Warringah Sea Eagles 34-6 at Brookvale Oval being eliminated from the Finals Series due to their lowly position in the Top 8. The era under Brown will forever be seen as one in which the Dragons underachieved, no premierships, with one of the best rosters in the game.

eason Summaries

Top 5 Try Scorers

Most Points in a Season

Biggest Winning Margins

Biggest Losing Margins

Most Consecutive Wins
* 8 - (July 17, 2005 - September 10, 2005)
* 7 - (May 17, 2008 - July 5, 2008)

Most Consecutive Loses
* 5 - (September 5, 2004 - April 2, 2005)
* 5 - (July 14 - August 13, 2006)
* 5 - (March 23 - April 30, 2007)

Biggest Comeback
* Trailed Manly 34-10 after 57 minutes to win 36-34 at Oki Jubilee Stadium (August 19, 2004).

Worst Collapse
* Led Melbourne 14-0 at halftime to lose 20-18 at Stadium Australia (1999 Grand Final)
* Led Sydney 14-0 after 53 minutes to lose 18-14 at Aussie Stadium (July 16, 2004)
* Led Canterbury 14-0 after 36 minutes to lose 28-24 at WIN Stadium (July 28, 2007)

Home Grounds/Stadium Records

Current:
* WIN Stadium (1999 - present)
* OKI Jubilee Stadium (1999, 2003 - 2007, 2009 - )

Former:
* Aussie Stadium (2000 - 2002)
* ANZ Stadium (2008)

Highest Attendances at OKI Jubilee Stadium:
* 18,223 - Dragons v Bulldogs (14/7/2006)
* 17,523 - Dragons v Eels (21/8/2005)
* 17,113 - Dragons v Sharks (24/7/2005)
* 16,915 - Dragons v Wests Tigers (20/6/2004)
* 16,713 - Dragons v Sharks (4/5/2003)

Highest Attendances at WIN Stadium:
* 19,608 - Dragons v Sharks (10/9/2005)
* 19,512 - Dragons v Roosters (29/7/2005)
* 19,501 - Dragons v Bulldogs (28/7/2007)
* 18,932 - Dragons v Panthers (18/4/2004)
* 18,382 - Dragons v Rabbitohs (11/8/2007)

Leagues Clubs

As well as having two administrative offices, St. George Illawarra are supported by two separate Leagues clubs - one in each of the St. George and Illawarra areas.

t. George Leagues Club

The St. George Leagues Club is located on the Princes Highway at Beverley Park close to the northern home ground of OKI Jubilee Stadium at Carlton. Established in 1963, St. George was one of the first Super Leagues clubs developed in the 60's and was commonly referred to as the Taj Mahal because of the use of white marbel in the original building. Very little of the original building is still there today after extensive refurbishing and redesigning the entire club to make it one of the most superbly fitting clubs in Australia.

teelers Club

Situated in the heart of the vibrant City Beach precinct, the Steelers Club is ideally located adjacent to WIN Entertainment Centre and WIN Stadium. It is directly across the road from the grounds Western Grandstand.

See also

* St George Dragons
* Illawarra Steelers

External links

* [http://www.dragons.com.au/ Dragons Official site]
* [http://www.nrl.com.au/ NRL Official site]
* [http://nrl.com/Dragons/tabid/10358/default.aspx Dragons NRL site]
* [http://www.showroom.com.au/dragons/ Dragons History- History of Mighty Dragons]
* [http://www.r2k.info/ Return To Kogarah (R2K)]
* [http://www.dragonarmy.com.au/ DragonArmy.com.au - Home of the Mighty Dragon Army (Dragons supporter group)]
* [http://www.mbds.com.au/ Melbourne Based Dragons Supporters]
* [http://www.news.com.au/dailytelegraph/index/0,22045,5012657,00.html Daily Telegraph - St George Illawarra Dragons 2007 season feature]

* [http://stats.rleague.com/rl/teams/st_geo-illa/st_geo-illa_idx.html - St George Illawarra Dragons Statistics and Tables]

References


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