St. George Illawarra Dragons 2010 NRL premiers

St. George Illawarra Dragons' coach Wayne Bennett (centre) with Jamie Soward and Dean Young celebrate thier teams win over Sydney Roosters during the NRL Grand Final at ANZ Stadium, Sydney, Oct. 3, 2010. Dragons defeated the Roosters 32 to 8. (AAP Image/Dean Lewins)

St George Illawarra Dragons have turned on a five-star second half performance to win the merged entity its inaugural premiership, end a 31-year wait for the Kogarah based half, crown Wayne Bennett as the game’s greatest ever coach and kick-off an almighty party at the two Leagues clubs and plenty of pubs in between.

Bennett must have earned every dollar he’ll ever get from the Dragons during half-time when he turned around a side that was in danger of frittering away a golden opportunity to take the crown.

The game had started well enough for the team with the Red V when Mark Gasnier pounced on a Jamie Soward kick to open the scoring but a string of errors and some leaky defence suddenly put the Roosters on the front foot and in front on the scoreboard.

However, the two tries in quick succession to Braith Anasta and Mitchell Aubusson would be the last time the Roosters troubled the score board attendant.

That wasn’t the case for the team that everyone had labelled boring and conservative in the run up to this match as they piled on 26 unanswered points.

The Dragons attack punished the inexperienced Roosters right hand side defence of Kane Linnet and Joseph Leilua as Jason Nightingale enjoyed a field day ending with two tries.

But in the end it was the Dragons forwards that laid the platform. Conversely when the Roosters needed their pack to plough it forward on their own steam and not rely on field position via penalties or errors they just came up with nothing.

With no go-forward Todd Carney was forced to crab across field and the Dragons just weren’t going to let that cut it, especially as the track got heavy.

Once they wore them down the Dragons were ruthless. Dean Young crashed over with a pet play, game over.
Then Nathan Fien wrapped up with an almost comical effort.

It won’t matter to any Dragons fan but it became clear that the Gasnier return wouldn’t be without its consequences with their two best forwards from today Jeremy Smith and Neville Costigan both heading elsewhere in 2011.

As for their coach Wayne Bennett, it says something about a coach that ever since he took over at the Dragons it seemed like it was only a matter of time before he won them a comp.

Rugby league was full of rumours last week but Cowboys fans must be praying the one that was true was that Bennett would head to Townsville after his deal with the Dragons ends.

For Brian Smith, well the wait continues….

Those watching on the box were greeted by Ken Sutcliffe who told them within his first 30 seconds that the two teams were battling it out for “club rugby’s biggest prize” before adding “in the game of rugby league” just to make a complete dog’s breakfast of it.

Sutcliffe looked far more comfortable when he shifted into shamelessly plugging a sponsor when announced with incredible excitement that the game would be broadcast in 3D down the Eastern Seaboard, which would be “three times the fun”. I’m not quite sure how we came to that conclusion given the rest of the viewing audience were managing to make do with two-dimensional pictures.

God knows what he thinks of anyone who listens to the game via the radio these days.

Finally, I had to laugh when I thought about those rugby league fans who consider John Williamson as a good choice for the “young people” when the Justice Crew kicked off the entertainment.

Moaning about the entertainment at Grand Finals is almost a national past-time and I reckon it would almost be worth wasting four hours of my life listening to talkback radio just to hear what they made of it.

Hopefully they may have been satisfied by Dan Sultan’s efforts on vocals although he remains the only singer I’ve ever seen cover Mick Jagger while simultaneously fulfilling the criteria of “business casual”.

But that’s all about the window dressing, at crunch time the Dragons were too good, as they have been all year.

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The Crowd Says (47)

  • October 4th 2010 @ 6:27am
    Terry Kidd said | October 4th 2010 @ 6:27am | ! Report

    Yep, just too good in the end. I have been quietly confident all year and was just so happy to see this group of players get their just reward. I predicted a Dragons win 19-6 …. well they bettered that.

    One further point Steve. You can certainly count on Bill Harrigan (the video ref) to get into the game somehow …. gee, he comes up with some bizzarre calls. However it was great to see that the result did not depend on a dubious video ref decision.

    My pick for MOM, although I believe that Boyd played well was either Jeremy Smith or Dean Young …. and how could you ever criticize Ben Hornby for lack of effort or heart?

    For the Roosters, I thought Aubusson and Ryles did ok and also Sam Perrett.

  • October 4th 2010 @ 7:27am
    Scott minto said | October 4th 2010 @ 7:27am | ! Report

    That pregame entertainment was horrible! They had a whole year to plan it and that was the best that they could do. Compare that to the AFL getting Lionel Ritchie in 1 week..

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    • October 4th 2010 @ 7:54am
      willy said | October 4th 2010 @ 7:54am | ! Report

      half the people at the game would not have known who ” lionel ritchie” was.

    • October 4th 2010 @ 8:09am
      oikee said | October 4th 2010 @ 8:09am | ! Report

      I think rugby league should be looking for a little bit heavy rock. I felt i was going backwards with this pre-match stuff. The Potbellies would have been better than what was dished up.
      If you watch foxsports, its all hardcore rock music, fits rugby league to a “T”. Yet they dish out this elevator music come grand final, thats really going to get the crowd pumped, not.

      As for the dragons, in benny they trusted, keep the faith, got the prize. St Benny, has their ever been anyone like him in the game? no, he gives his heart and soul to the game. Good outcome for all. As for Smithy, i am sure the day will come where he wins the big one, the gods are not quite ready yet for him to sit on the throne. 🙂

      • October 5th 2010 @ 12:46am
        TammyS said | October 5th 2010 @ 12:46am | ! Report

        The Presets would be awesome and they’re league fans too or bliss n eso, hilltop hoods or temper trap. Ive seen them all live and they’re all amazing

        There are a lot more decent Aussie musicians(like the ones above) they should’ve gone for

    • Roar Guru

      October 4th 2010 @ 11:06am
      Steve Kaless said | October 4th 2010 @ 11:06am | ! Report

      Scott, if you are the sort of person who gets excited about Lionel Ritchie we’ll have to agree to disagree.

  • October 4th 2010 @ 7:38am
    Norm said | October 4th 2010 @ 7:38am | ! Report

    Great first half, disaster 2nd. I went to watch the footy Steve pre match entertainment is for the prima donnas. The day wasn’t a complete wipe out, at least I got to reinforce my pathological hatred of all things St George.

    • October 4th 2010 @ 3:01pm
      Peter said | October 4th 2010 @ 3:01pm | ! Report

      Pathological: Caused by or evidencing a mentally disturbed condition.

      Norm, I am sorry to hear of your mental condition, but it’s a small price to pay for a well deserved Dragons Grand Final victory. Do thoughts of Brisbane, Penrith and Canterbury for the Rooster’s 2000, 2003 and 2004 grand final losses also cause you mental disturbances? Don’t worry, you can always drown your sorrows with a nice caffè latte.

      Congratulations to the St George Illawarra Dragons, 2010 NRL Premiers.

    • October 8th 2010 @ 1:18pm
      Susie said | October 8th 2010 @ 1:18pm | ! Report

      So what – The Mighty Dragons were victorious, they wanted the Premiership more than the roosters – why are some fans so hateful – I am, will be, & always have been a one eyed Dragons supporter, however I can see good players & good plays in other teams – if some of the Norms would get off their butts & try to do what all (not just Dragons) players & coaches etc do – work hard – they may be able to see a team that is proud inspired & true & deserving of a good win – they played well all year so get a life and just be faithful to your team & give credit where credit is due

  • October 4th 2010 @ 8:25am
    TammyS said | October 4th 2010 @ 8:25am | ! Report

    Congrats to the dragons. It was well deserved. Pre-match entertainment was horrible. I do like the fact that the nrl tries to cater to fans of all ages and not just picks old artists but it was cringe worthy in particular justice crew (at least learn how to mime properly).

  • October 4th 2010 @ 9:35am
    katzilla said | October 4th 2010 @ 9:35am | ! Report

    The Churchill medal is a crock, I hope the Kiwis that play in the GFs are aware that none of them will ever get that award whilst its being awarded by the Australian Selectors……………

    Last year Adam Blair made 10 times the contribution that Slater made IN THE GF.
    This year Boyd won it by catching a couple of bombs in the wet…………………..brilliant.
    Nevermind Jeremy Smith who never took a step backwards and punished the Roosters in defence, or Nathan Fien who organised the Dragons around the ruck area, was seen telling Soward and Bennett at half time what they were going to do and orchestrated the best role play try seen in a GF. Or even Jason Nightingale who scored the 2 tries to break the Roosters by carving up the young duo on the right hand side. His pick up on the half volley for that 2nd try was phenomenal.
    (On top of those guys it could easily have gone Young or Costigan too, but I dont know if Young senior could have handled any more pride, he surely would have exploded)

    Anyway rant over.

    Congratulations to the Dragons, this win gives hope to all followers of teams regularly described as chokers in certain tournaments and as a Kiwi I now look forward to 2011 with renewed optimism.

  • Roar Guru

    October 4th 2010 @ 10:47am
    Hoy said | October 4th 2010 @ 10:47am | ! Report

    I also can’t understand how Boyd really deserved the Churchill. A friend said he reckons it was a “sorry” to Boyd in that he should possibly have won the Dally M.

    I don’t think it had anything to do with Katzilla’s theory, but it is an odd selection. I would have picked Young, in a game where I don’t think anyone really played that well accross the board. Nightingale scored two tries, but they weren’t great tries really, Soward, Pearce, Carney, Anasta and Hornby really didn’t do that much as playmakers, no forward really dominated the game.

    It was a tight first half. When I heard it was wet, I knew I had made a mistake tipping the Roosters. The Dragons just have that ability to strangle a game.

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