It only took 12 years for the Dragons to make their so far only major statement on the
Formed from a joint venture between the St George Dragons and the Illawarra Steelers in 1998, the side from New South Wales, the club stunned many by reaching the Grand Final in their very first season.
However, defeat to Melbourne Storm that day ended what would have been a fairy-tale story.
That season, the Dragons made it clear they were here to stay although things are not going so well this season as they find themselves 5/1 with Betway to finish in the top 8 of the NRL as of the 13th July 2020 with plenty of work to do if they are to rise back to the top next season.
Although after their debut season the next nine years would bring no silverware, it would bring a level of consistency that would see the club reach six Finals appearances in that period, and only once would they finish outside the top ten in the regular league season.
Then, in 2009, the signs of dominance started to come through.
2009 And A New Era
In 2009, new coach Wayne Bennett stepped into the breach and success immediately followed.
The arrival marked a new era for the Dragons after former coach Nathan Brown had spent five years at the club with consistency, but no league titles despite boasting a relatively strong side in 2008, however, we quickly made the move over to Super League with the Huddersfield Giants.
The move to sign Bennett was a shrewd one though for the Dragons and 2009 saw the side top the ladder for the very first time.
They were handed the league ladder largely thanks to the Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs being stripped of two-points after an interchange breach in round two.
The finals did not go to plan for the Dragons with defeat to the Parramatta Eels in the qualifying rounds before elimination at the hands of Brisbane Broncos in the semi-final.
However, the positive signs were there and for the first time ever, the Dragons looked like a genuine grand final contender.
As 2009 drew to a close, 2010 promised big things for the Dragons and it was a year history was going to be set.
2010 And World Domination
The 103 rd NRL season saw the Dragons pick up where they had threatened to finish in 2009 and ended the season with a second consecutive minor Premiership title only this year, they would go one better.
This time, there was no debating who the best team was as the Dragons finished top of the ladder with 17 wins and four points better off second place Penrith Panthers. Clearly the class of the field, the Dragons were confident although they had carried the ‘choker’ tag for a number of years and were eager to shake it off.
The Dragons were in dominant form and recorded the result of the season in the Qualifying finals as they prevented Manly-Warringah Sea Eagles from even registering a point in a 28-0 hammering.
The preliminary finals went down to the wire though at the ANZ Stadium with the Dragons edging the game against the West Tigers by a single point.
The stage had been set for the Dragons to take on the Sydney Roosters back at the ANZ Stadium and the Roosters headed into the break with a narrow 8-6 lead. It looked like a choke was on the cards once more until an inspired Jason Nightingale ran over two second half tries as the Dragons ran in 26 points to no reply in the second 40 to win the Grand Final 32-8.
Victory in the Grand Final meant the Dragons would take on the Wigan Warriors in the 2011 World Club Challenge in England.
The game took place at Wigan’s DW Stadium on a cold February day but that did not affect the Dragons performance.
Brett Morris ran in two tries for St George and Wigan’s George Carmont matched him with two of his own.
However, the difference was made by Matt Cooper and Cameron King who went over to hand the Dragons their moment in history as they became World Champions for the first time.
Bennett left at the end of the 2011 season and the Dragons have not tasted the same
Midway through 2019, there have been calls for head coach Paul McGregor to be fired from his post although he still remains in charge today.
So far, 2020 has not quite gone to plan and Englishman James Graham requested immediate release from the Dragons so he can head back home to continue his career in the Super League.
Whatever the future holds for the Dragons, one thing that can be never be taken away from them is that for a short period at least, they were the best Rugby League side in the world.
A well known Rugby League writer, League Freak has established a reputation among supporters of the game for his fearless commentary and unmatched insight. With a reach that spans both sides of the globe, League Freak has produced an independent network that allows him to distribute content to his many thousands of followers. He is the owner and main author of LeagueFreak.com
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