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St. George Illawarra Dragons

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St. George Illawarra Dragons

St. George Ilawarra
Club information
Full name St.George Illawarra Dragons
Rugby League Football Club
Nickname(s) Saints, Dragons, Red V
Colours      White
Founded 23 September 1998
Current details
CEO(s) Peter Doust
Coach(s) Paul McGregor
Captain(s) Ben Creagh
Competition National Rugby League
2014 season 11th
Home colours
Current season
Premierships 1 (2010)
Runners-up 1 (1999)
Minor premiership 2 (2010)
World Club Challenge 1 (2011)
Wooden spoons None
Most capped 273 - Ben Hornby
Most points 977 - Jamie Soward

The St George Illawarra Dragons is an Australian professional Illawarra Steelers (est. 1982).[1] They officially formed as the game's first joint-venture club on 23 September 1998 and remain the only cross-city team in the NRL.[2] The team has its headquarters and leagues clubs in both Wollongong and the Sydney suburb of Kogarah, and train and play games regularly at WIN Stadium in Wollongong, as well as at Jubilee Oval in Kogarah.

The Dragons reached the Illawarra regions. In 2010, the Dragons won their second successive minor premiership and became the only team to be awarded the J. J. Giltinan Shield consecutively since the NRL was formed in 1998.

The Dragons won the 2010 NRL Grand Final against the Sydney Roosters, defeating them 32–8 at ANZ Stadium, Sydney, Australia. They then won the 2011 World Club Challenge, defeating the Wigan Warriors 21–15 at DW Stadium in the UK. With its World Club Challenge victory, the club became the first Australian team since the Brisbane Broncos in 1992-3 to win the minor premiership, premiership and World Club Challenge simultaneously.


  • History 1
    • David Waite and Andrew Farrar (1999–2002) 1.1
    • Nathan Brown (2003–2008) 1.2
    • Wayne Bennett (2009–2011) 1.3
    • Steve Price and Paul McGregor (2012 - present) 1.4
  • Season summaries 2
  • Colours and jerseys 3
    • Name and Emblem 3.1
    • Jerseys 3.2
  • Home grounds 4
  • 2015 Squad 5
  • Coaches 6
  • Leagues clubs 7
    • St. George Dragons Leagues Club 7.1
    • Illawarra Steelers Leagues Club 7.2
  • Supporters 8
  • Rivalries 9
    • Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs 9.1
    • Cronulla-Sutherland Sharks 9.2
    • South Sydney Rabbitohs 9.3
    • Sydney Roosters 9.4
    • Brisbane Broncos 9.5
    • Melbourne Storm 9.6
  • Club records 10
    • Player records 10.1
    • Head to head record 10.2
  • Sponsorship 11
  • See also 12
  • References 13
  • External links 14


In the wake of the

  • Daily Telegraph – St George Illawarra Dragons 2007 season feature
  • Rugby League Tables – St George Illawarra

News items

  • Dragons Official site
  • NRL Official site
  • Dragons NRL site

Official NRL Sites

External links

  1. ^ Warne-Smith, Drew (2 October 2010). "Saints face test with nerves of Steelers".  
  2. ^ Wilson, Andy (3 October 2010). "Wigan prepare to slay Dragons after crushing St Helens in Grand Final". Retrieved 24 July 2011. 
  3. ^ "NRL predicts more teams to seek $4m merger bonus".  
  4. ^ Webster, Andrew (21 June 2008). "Ryles quits Dragons".  
  5. ^ "Wayne Bennett appoints Ben Hornby as captain of St George Illawarra".  
  6. ^ . Illawarra Mercury 
  7. ^ Melbourne Based Dragons Supporters
  8. ^ (7 October 2009). "Former PM John Howard sounded out to overhaul rugby league, chair commission".  
  9. ^ a b Dodson, Louise (24 August 2004). "Latham has a stack of influential support".  
  10. ^ Lee, Brett (5 October 2003). "Bat and ball? We're all talkin' league today . . .". The Sun-Herald (Australia: Fairfax Digital). Retrieved 11 April 2010. 
  11. ^ [2]
  12. ^ [3]
  13. ^ [4]
  14. ^ Rugby League Tables / Win-Loss Records / St George Illawarra


See also

All official Dragons merchandise is produced by ISC as of 2014.


Games Wins Drawn Loss Points For Points Against +/- Win %
386 202 6 178 8514 7440 +1074 53.0%

Since the foundation of the St. George Illawarra Dragons, the club has achieved the following Win/Loss Record:[14]

Head to head record

  • (*) Player no longer at St. George Illawarra.

Player records

(updated as of End of season 2013.)

Club records

The 2009 season opened with these two teams going head to head in another much talked about match. Dragons five-eighth Jamie Soward was labelled a 'rag doll' in defence whilst trying to stop the Storm's Greg Inglis scoring a try, however ever since that match Soward's game has matured. The Dragons lost 17–16 in extra time, with Inglis scoring the match winning field goal. In the return match, Soward was also the centre of attention as he used his foot to prevent Inglis again from scoring, resulting in an eight-point try and Soward being put on report (he was reprimanded for this). The Dragons won this match 26–12. In round 4, 2010, the Dragons were the last team to lose premiership points to the Storm before their salary cap scandal was revealed.

The two teams have also had some memorable, not to mention controversial matches in the decade that followed, none more so than the Grand Final rematch in 2000 which saw the Storm annihilate the Dragons 70–10 at the Anthony Mundine had claimed that the Storm were not worthy premiers, sparking anger from the Storm's fans and players, thus the catalyst for the huge win. The Dragons however did claim revenge later that year with a 50–4 win at WIN Stadium (that also remains the Storm's worst ever defeat to date).

These two teams played in the Grand Final in 1999. It is remembered for the penalty try conceded by Dragons winger Jamie Ainscough that cost the Dragons the premiership. It was the Dragons' first NRL Grand Final appearance as a merger and the Storm's first Grand Final appearance in just its second year in existence. The Dragons had led 14–0 at halftime only for Melbourne to come back and claim a controversial 20–18 win following the penalty try two minutes from time. To date, this remains Melbourne's only premiership after the Storm had been stripped of its 2007 and 2009 titles following mass salary cap breaches.

Melbourne Storm

Players who played for the Dragons who have won premierships with Brisbane include Darius Boyd and Luke Priddis, who also won a premiership with Penrith in 2003. Others of note include Nick Emmett who was brought to the club by Wayne Bennett, and Neville Costigan, who was sacked just before the Broncos' 2006 success.

  • Round 11, 2002: Brisbane were at the top of the ladder undefeated at the time until they ran into the Dragons at Aussie Stadium on a sunny Sunday afternoon. The Dragons won 28–20 to inflict Brisbane's first defeat of the season, but in round 17 the Broncos got them back with a 34–22 victory at ANZ Stadium.
  • Round 26, 2003: The Dragons were out of finals contention and the Broncos the previous week had lost a then club-record breaking sixth straight loss when the two teams came together at Suncorp Stadium in the final round of the 2003 season. The second-string Dragons side, without more than half of its first grade side stunned the Broncos 26–25 with hooker Mark Riddell kicking an improbable penalty goal with just over 90 seconds remaining. This condemned the Broncos to their seventh loss in succession and gave Dragons fans some hope for the 2004 season.
  • Round 12, 2004: Not even an early try from Mark Gasnier (who was dropped from the New South Wales State of Origin team for disciplinary issues) could inspire the Dragons as they lost by just two points, 24–22.
  • Round 23, 2005: In a potential Grand Final preview, scores were locked at 0–0 for the majority of the first half before the Dragons broke away in the second half to record a 24–4 win and instigate Brisbane's then-traditional late-season poor form.
  • Round 15, 2006: With the Dragons trailing 16–12 with two minutes remaining, Dragons winger Brett Morris scored his first-ever first grade try in the corner in the dying minutes after catching a Mathew Head bomb. The try was allowed, leaving Dragons hooker Aaron Gorrell (in a twist of irony, he later went on to play for the Broncos) with the sideline conversion to win the game. Gorrell nailed it and the Dragons won the match 18–16.
  • 2nd Qualifying Final, 2006: The Dragons upset the Broncos 20–4, the third time the Dragons defeated Brisbane in that year. The Broncos ultimately went on to win the premiership.
  • Round 13, 2008: Wendell Sailor played his first game for the Dragons against the Broncos, but was rested just before halftime following a jaw injury suffered in the first half. The Dragons won 34–16.
  • Round 23, 2008: Sailor marked his return to Suncorp Stadium with his first try since coming back to rugby league in a win to the Dragons, 24–20.
  • Round 4, 2009: Wayne Bennett, Darius Boyd and a host of others opposed the Broncos for the first time in their lives. Despite conceding an early try to Israel Folau, the Dragons won 25–12 with Wendell Sailor appropriately scoring the match winning try.
  • 2nd Semi-Final, 2009: The Broncos ended the Dragons season with a 24–10 win, and the Dragons became the first minor premiers in 16 years to be eliminated in just the 2nd round of the Finals.
  • 2nd Semi-Final, 2011: The Broncos beat the Dragons 13-12 field goal kicked by Darren Lockyer in overtime, Darren won the game with a fractured cheekbone that he received late in the game, this also turned out to be Darren Lockyer's last game for the Broncos and Wayne Bennett (coaching) and Mark Gasnier's last for the Dragons.

Some memorable matches between the Dragons and the Broncos have included:

The St George Illawarra Dragons had the longest winning streak against the Brisbane Broncos than any other club (eight, from round 23, 2005 to round 4, 2009 inclusive, including one final in 2006), across five years. With former Wendell Sailor, a popular face in the NRL and a former Bronco, the rivalry only increased. In 2009, the Dragons defeated the Broncos at Suncorp Stadium early, and were then beaten in Wollongong by the Broncos later on in the season. One game a piece, the two sides met up in Brisbane in the finals, where they lost to the Broncos 24–10, thus ending the Dragons season and also that of Wendell Sailor's career. Ironically, his first (and last) game for the Dragons were both against the Broncos.

Prior to the joint-venture, both St George and Illawarra had created strong rivalries with Brisbane in the early 1990s. St George and Brisbane Broncos contested the 1992 and 1993 Grand Finals, creating a fierce rivalry (see New South Wales Rugby League season 1993). Also, Illawarra had produced some memorable performances against Brisbane, including the infamous 1989 Panasonic Cup Final (which Brisbane won) and the 1992 Tooheys Challenge Cup Final (won by Illawarra).

Brisbane Broncos

St George has another strong rivalry with the Club ANZAC Game against the Roosters, a tradition dating back to the 1970s, but has been contested regularly since 2002.[13] The Dragons achieved their first NRL premiership by defeating the Roosters 32–8 in the hotly contested 2010 NRL Grand Final

Sydney Roosters

St George won 15 premierships before merging with Illawarra. In 2010 they won their first NRL premiership as a merged entity. The South Sydney Rabbitohs have won the most premierships with 21, the Sydney Roosters next on 13 premierships. The Rabbitohs and Dragons met several times in grand finals prior to the merger and being the north-eastern neighbours of St George, had many fierce encounters. The most significant match of this rivalry is the Charity Shield, a pre-season fixture between the two sides that was abandoned during the 90's but was revived after Souths were re-admitted to the NRL in 2002. [1]

South Sydney Rabbitohs

In 2009, former Dragons captain Trent Barrett switched to the Sharks after two years in the European Super League. In his return match to Kogarah in round 3, 2009, Barrett was injured and with him went any hopes Cronulla had of winning the premiership (in the preceding year, the Sharks had finished equal-first) that year. Other players to have switched clubs include Lance Thompson and Jeremy Smith (Dragons to Sharks), Beau Scott, Sam Isemonger and Matt Bickerstaff (Sharks to Dragons) and Colin Best (Sharks to Dragons and then back again, as of 2011). In another match in 2009, Sharks captain Paul Gallen was found guilty of a racial slur involving then Dragons forward Mickey Paea.

Both clubs have been accused of poaching players from the other, and compete for fans in the same region. In 1999, the Cronulla CEO infamously cut up a St George Jersey after a match at Illawarra Steelers were loyal to the ARL during the Super League War).

Another one of St George Illawarra's fiercest rivalries is with their Southern neighbour, [12] The Dragons have enjoyed more success than the Sharks, who have not won a premiership after 47 years. In fact, since the Dragons entered the competition in 1999, both the Dragons and Sharks have finished higher than the other six times apiece. The rivalry increased in 2005 when they met in a final at a sold out WIN Stadium; the Dragons winning 28–22. Cronulla finished the 1999 season as minor premiers, but the Dragons beat them 26–8 in the preliminary final to progress to the 1999 NRL Grand Final at the Sharks' expense. The Dragons trailed 0–8 at halftime.

Cronulla-Sutherland Sharks

for the Bulldogs. Josh for the Dragons and Brett. In modern times, the rivalry is partly fuelled by the fact that the Morris Brothers playing for opposing clubs: NRL Heritage Round The two sides are rivals in the [11] St George Illawarra has a fierce rivalry with neighbour the

Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs

Due to St George enjoying great success over the years, the St George Illawarra Dragons have inherited several fierce rivalries, while also creating a few new ones since forming the joint venture.


Supporters of the Dragons mainly come from the club's local areas, the suburbs of the St. George district in Sydney (the Hurstville, Rockdale, and Kogarah Council regions), and the Illawarra on the south-coast of NSW. The St. George Illawarra Dragons also have a huge following in south-east Queensland, as a significant number of the club's 'Red V' memberships are from people in this area. The Dragons also have supporters from all over NSW, with the club receiving record crowds at away games at ANZ Stadium (Stadium Australia) at Sydney Olympic Park. Notably there is also a large Dragons following in Victoria, based around Melbourne and Geelong.[7] It is understood that the club receives support from NRL fans in other states as well, mostly due to the Dragons' world famous run of eleven consecutive premierships in the 1950s and 1960s. Some notable supporters of the team include Sally Fitzgibbons, John Stanley, Ian McNamara, Stephanie Magiros, Mark Taylor (cricketer), Kerry O'Keeffe, Mitchell Starc, Billy Dib, Tony Squires, Lara Pitt, Ken Rosewall, Mike Dalton, John Howard,[8] Mark Latham[9] Robert McClelland[9] and Brett Lee.[10]


Situated in the middle of the City Beach precinct, the Steelers Club is located adjacent to WIN Entertainment Centre and WIN Stadium. It is directly across the road from the grounds Western Grandstand. Established in 1990, the club has struggled financially against much larger and more popular leagues clubs in Wollongong, such as Collegians, Dapto Leagues Club, Wests Illawarra Leagues Club, and Shellharbour Workers Club in Shellharbour. However, after a major restructure of its operations, the Steelers Club has trading profitably over the last 12 months. Twenty percent of the club premises were sold to Bermuda based Billionaire and owner of WIN Corp, Bruce Gordon. The sale fetched 2.6 million dollars.[6]

Illawarra Steelers Leagues Club

The St. George Leagues Club is located on the Taj Mahal because of the use of white marble 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. It is currently ranked 9th (out of 10) of the best Leagues Clubs in Sydney.

St. George Dragons Leagues Club

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.

St George Leagues Club, Beverley Park, Sydney

Leagues clubs


2015 Squad

Stadium records

The club has taken their home ground advantage away from their usual home grounds to the Sydney Football Stadium for the Club ANZAC Game against the Sydney Roosters in the 2004, 2006, 2010, 2012 and 2014 seasons. In 2002 when the match was first held, the Sydney Football Stadium was, at the time, one of the Dragons' main home grounds, whilst in 2008 the match was played at ANZ Stadium, a very unpopular move amongst supporters.

The club has previously played Sydney home games out of the Sydney Football Stadium (2000–2002), Stadium Australia (2008) and the Sydney Cricket Ground (on one occasion in 2011), due to redevelopment or unavailability of Jubilee Oval.

Half of the Dragons home matches are played at Jubilee Oval (previously the home of the St George Dragons), while the remainder of their home matches are played at the Wollongong Showground (previously the home ground of the Illawarra Steelers).

The Dragons have two home grounds, reflecting the joint nature of the club:

Inside Jubilee Oval
Outside Jubilee Oval, that includes a Walk of Fame

Home grounds

Reebok will produce supporter and team kits from the 2010 season. Again the Red V was the Main jersey and the Alternate jersey was a red design with white slash marks. Referred by supporters as the Wolverine jersey. In 2011 St George Illawarra Dragons again use an Illawarra Steelers styled Alternate jersey when they are not wearing the famous Red V. ISC has taken over as the main jersey supplier for the 2014 season.

In 2004 and 2005, the club used a jersey similar to the Steelers main jersey for Heritage matches, acknowledging the rugby league history of the Illawarra region, though not as a full-time alternate strip. This jersey was predominantly red with white stripes on the sleeves. With Adidas producing the club's official merchandise from 2006, a generic Adidas design – predominantly red with three white stripes down the sleeves – was adopted as the full-time alternate strip; before another re-design in 2008, which better reflected the old Steelers jersey.

The alternate jersey initially used by the club was red and white horizontal stripes, similar to the 1921 St George Jersey known as the "blood and bandages". Since 2006, this Jersey has been reserved for use as the St George Illawarra Heritage Jersey for special occasions. This Jersey is worn during Heritage Round, when the Dragons confront fierce local rivals the Bulldogs RLFC.

When the St George Illawarra Dragons were formed in 1998, it was decided that the jersey of St George (first used in 1945), the famous "Red V" on white, would become the main jersey for the new club. The red used was changed to the scarlet tone used by the Steelers.


The club name Dragons, is a shortened version of "Dragonslayers", the original nickname of St George. The emblem features a red shield with a silhouette of

The team colours of the St. George Illawarra Dragons are red and white, colours shared by both the St. George Dragons and Illawarra Steelers. The merged entity's logo was taken directly from that of St George, with the addition of "Illawarra" to the bottom of the emblem. The emblem reflected the rich history of the St George Dragons, including an incredible 11 consecutive premierships, and the future strength of the club with the Illawarra.

Name and Emblem

Colours and jerseys

P=Premiers, R=Runners-Ups, M=Minor Premierships, F=Finals Appearance, W=Wooden Spoons
(Brackets Represent Finals Games)
Competition Games
P R M F W Coach Captain Notes
1999 NRL Season
24 (4) 15 (3) 0 9 (1) 6 / 17
David Waite
Andrew Farrar
Paul McGregor
Runners Up
2000 NRL Season
26 12 0 14 9 / 14
Craig Smith
Barrett receives Dally M medal
2001 NRL Season
26 (2) 12 (1) 2 12 (1) 7 / 14
Andrew Farrar
Ainscough and Barrett represent NSW
2002 NRL Season
24 (2) 9 (1) 3 12 (1) 7 / 15
Trent Barrett
Barrett new captain
2003 NRL Season
24 11 0 13 10 / 15
Nathan Brown
Nathan Brown becomes coach
2004 NRL Season
24 (1) 14 0 10 (1) 5 / 15
Dragons have a 24 point comeback
2005 NRL Season
24 (2) 16 (1) 0 8 (1) 2 / 15
Gasnier Centre of the year
2006 NRL Season
24 (3) 14 (2) 0 10 (1) 6 / 15
Gasnier Centre of the year
2007 NRL Season
24 9 0 15 13 / 16
Sign Jamie Soward
2008 NRL Season
24 (1) 13 0 11 (1) 7 / 16
Mark Gasnier
Nathan Brown not renewed as coach for 2009
2009 NRL Season
24 (2) 17 0 7 (2) 1 / 16
Wayne Bennett
Ben Hornby[5]
Minor Premiers
2010 NRL Season
24 (3) 17 (3) 0 7 1 / 16
Minor Premiers, Premiers
2011 NRL season
24 (2) 14 1 9 (2) 5 / 16
World Club Challenge Champions
2012 NRL season
24 11 0 13 9/16
Steve Price
2013 NRL season
24 7 0 17 14/16
Ben Creagh
Sign Josh Dugan
2014 NRL season
24 11 0 13 11/16
Steve Price
Paul McGregor
Sign Gareth Widdop, Benji Marshall

Season summaries

In late May 2014,recently after the star signing of Benji Marshall, the board sacked Price as coach because of lack of wins. They signed assistant-coach Paul McGregor (rugby league) as his replacement until the end of the season.

2012 saw the club with a new coach. The Dragons narrowly missed out on a Finals spot, finishing up in 9th position. Several notable players departed from the club at the end of the season, including Ben Hornby and Dean Young, who both retired from the sport. The start of the 2013 season saw the arrival of few key acquisitions, namely Gerard Beale from the Broncos and Tyson Frizell from the Cronulla Sharks. The season was plagued by inconsistent form, alongside injuries and speculation regarding Price's future at the club. After winning three straight matches on the lead up to the annual Anzac Day clash with the Roosters, it was announced that Price would be signed for another year with an option for a second at the clubs disposal. Despite the clubs faith in Price as well as the arrival of star fullback Josh Dugan from Canberra - in a mid-season transfer, the club was unable to string together consistent performances and finished the year at 14th position.

Steve Price and Paul McGregor (2012 - present)

It was announced in March 2011 that Bennett will leave the Dragons after the 2011 season, signing a four-year deal with the Newcastle Knights from the 2012 season onwards. Steve Price was named his successor.

St George began their 2011 Season with pre-season wins in trials over Canterbury and South Sydney in the Charity Shield. The club also claimed its first World Club Challenge Championship, defeating Wigan Warriors 21–15 at DW Stadium. As of Round 14 2011, the Dragons have won 10 straight(excluding a 14–14 draw against Parramatta in Round 13).

In the 2010 NRL Grand Final, the Dragons defeated the Sydney Roosters 32–8, to secure the clubs first grand final victory. The Dragons overcame a poor first half performance to pull a thrilling victory out of the hat. This victory made Wayne Bennett's grand final record at 7 wins from 8 and thus continuing Brian Smith's poor grand final record of 4 losses from 4. Darius Boyd, who had won a premiership with Bennett and the Brisbane Broncos in 2006, won the Clive Churchill Medal for best on ground in the match.

St George Illawarra met Manly in the first week of the 2010 finals and produced a 28–0 victory. The Dragons then defeated Wests Tigers 13–12 with Jamie Soward kicking the winning field goal for a place in the 2010 NRL Grand Final.

The team won its second minor premiership in succession (the only NRL team to do so since the inception of the NRL in 1998) with victory against the Newcastle Knights in the penultimate round of the 2010 NRL season. The Dragons had led the competition from round five right through to the final round, spending 21 consecutive weeks on top of the ladder and therefore spending the longest period of time on top of the ladder in NRL history (not including the Melbourne Storm).

They were consistently placed first on the competition ladder in 2009, contributed by a continuous winning streak of seven games since their win against the North Queensland Cowboys on 14 June. They lost first position after a three-game losing streak while the Canterbury Bulldogs won all games in that period, but remain in the top three. However, in the final round of the 2009 regular season, St. George Illawarra defeated in-form Parramatta Eels 37–0, a game in which winger Brett Morris obtained a hat-trick and man of the match honours, while the Bulldogs lost 34–12 to the Wests Tigers. In the same game, St. George Illawarra five-eighth Jamie Soward surpassed Harry Bath's record for most points in a season by a St. George player. As a result, the Dragons won the minor premiership for the 2009 and Wayne Bennett's first season at the club, but the team was eliminated from the finals after losing both their finals matches, therefore becoming the first minor premiers since 1993. In the first match they were humbled in front of a packed Jubilee Stadium, before travelling to face Bennett's former team. The Broncos defeated the Dragons. Season 2010 saw the club lose seven matches – the same tally as in the 2009 home-and-away season, against eventual wooden spooners the Melbourne Storm, 2008 premiers the Manly-Warringah Sea Eagles, their perennial bogey team the Canberra Raiders, 2003 premiers the Penrith Panthers in round 17, the Gold Coast Titans in extra time in round 20, Bennett's old team the Brisbane Broncos in round 21 and a second time to the Canberra Raiders in round 24. The team has been placed first since round five.

2009, a new season a new coach and ground sponsor WIN at Jubilee Oval. Several new faces joined the club, including Jeremy Smith, Darius Boyd, Neville Costigan, Michael Weyman and Luke Priddis. The season opener against the Storm ended in a thrilling golden point extra time loss (17–16). Round 3 set a new crowd record with the victorious return to WIN Jubilee against Cronulla.

Wayne Bennett (2009–2011)

2008 saw the end of an era, with coach Nathan Brown's contract not renewed after yet another poor start to the season, winning 1 of their first 6 matches. The club received a boost in May when former dual-code international player Wendell Sailor joined the team. Several notable players departed at the end of the year including Jason Ryles[4] and captain Mark Gasnier. The Dragons finished the season in 7th place, however they lost in the first round of the finals to eventual premiers Manly (whom they defeated 20–18 in round 11) 34–6 at Brookvale Oval ending yet another disappointing season. The era under Brown was one of frustration for Dragons fans, as there were high expectations for the strong side, but ultimately no premierships.

Season 2007 saw an early injury to Mark Gasnier in the Charity Shield match against South Sydney Rabbitohs creating another poor start for the Dragons. 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. This was a very inexperienced Dragons team that seemed destined for a poor injury plagued season. However, in Round 17 (vs Canberra Raiders at WIN Stadium), the Dragons scored four times more points than their previous game average, winning the match 58–16, equalling their highest ever score and their largest victory in three years. The Dragons season ended with a 28–24 loss to the Manly-Warringah Sea Eagles at Brookvale Oval, finishing at 13th place, which to date is their lowest finish thus far.

In the finals campaign, St George Illawarra faced the Brisbane Broncos at Suncorp Stadium in the first round, the Dragons won the game 20–4. In the second round, they met the Manly-Warringah Sea Eagles at the Sydney Football Stadium winning 28–0. In the grand final qualifier, they played the Melbourne Storm, where the Dragons went down 24–10 bowing out of season 2006. The Dragons can take solace from the fact that they did defeat the eventual premiers, Brisbane, three times during the 2006 season – 26–12 at Wollongong in Round 4, 18–16 at Suncorp Stadium in Round 15 and the aforementioned qualifying final match.

After a bad start to the 2006 season, the Dragons put on a midseason 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 2005, 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 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.

2004 saw the final season of the try scoring talent Nathan Blacklock. An extraordinary scoreline was seen in the round 25 clash with Manly. Trailing 34–10 after 53 minutes the Dragons came back to win the match 36–34. This was the second biggest comeback in Australian Rugby League history. Finishing 5th, the Dragons were eliminated in the first round of the finals after losing in a thrilling game 30–31 to 4th placed Penrith.

In 2003, Nathan Brown, the merged entity's first number 9 achieved the position of coach, becoming the youngest non-playing coach in premiership history at the age of 29. The Dragons finished the season 10th. Nathan Brown was also involved in a sideline incident when he had slapped Trent Barrett in Wollongong during a game against Manly, and was issued a $5000 fine.

Nathan Brown (2003–2008)

In the 2000 season though they had a rough start, and in Round 5, the Dragons recorded their worst defeat for the club, losing 70–10 against the Melbourne Storm. This was the first game these two teams played against each other since the 1999 grand final, and was played at the MCG. On 3 May to the surprise and shock of fans and club officials, Anthony Mundine announced his retirement from the club and rugby league in general with immediate effect to pursue a career in boxing. The Dragons were not going well in the first half of the 2000 season, and the main coach David Waite was replaced with assistant coach, Andrew Farrar. Soon after the replacement of coaches, the Dragons recorded their best ever win. They defeated the New Zealand Warriors 54–0 in round 14 at WIN Stadium, with debutant Amos Roberts scoring a record 22 points (one try and nine goals) for any player on debut. The Dragons, however, missed out of the finals series, and came 9th. Despite their poor season, Trent Barrett was awarded with the Dally M Medal.

In the 1999 Grand Final the Dragons were leading by 14–0 at the break in front of a world record crowd of 107,999. 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 merger, 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.

Merged entity 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 merged 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 the Cronulla Sharks to reach the Grand Final.

David Waite and Andrew Farrar (1999–2002)

In early 2006, WIN Television Network bought a 25% share in the St. George Illawarra club for $6.5 million (half of Illawarra's share), erasing most of the debt Illawarra had to St. George. This formalised the strong support the network has shown for the Steelers in years gone by and ensured that Wollongong will continue to host world class rugby league matches. WIN Corp can only sell their stake back to the Steelers, should they wish to withdraw their involvement, thus ensuring Illawarra are properly represented in the merger.


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