Don’t you just love Sweet September? The heroes, the villains, the inspired victories and the gut-wrenching losses. The poetry of finals footy. Predictably unpredictable.
With Premiership glory knocking, we’ve taken a trip down memory lane to look at the most memorable finals moments the St George Illawarra Dragons have experienced since the formation of the NRL.
Read, reflect and tell us your favourite moment by leaving a comment below.
1. Premiers… finally
2010 would see the Dragons achieve what had eluded them since their inception as a joint venture club and give their long suffering fans something to celebrate.
With Wayne Bennett in his second season at the helm, the boys marched through the season as minor premiers. As the pressure of September hung heavy, the Dragons shook off the weight of expectation to complete a clean sweep on their way to a famous Premiership.
The Grand Final saw them trounce the Roosters 32-8 on the back of an amazing second half display. Down 8-6 at the break after a dour first half, the Dragons turned it on in the second winger with Jason Nightingale bagging a double, while Darius Boyd grabbed the Clive Churchill Medal.
2. Sowie strikes
The 2010 grand final win was the coup de grace for the Dragons but it was their spirited performance to defeat a desperate Wests Tigers in the preliminary final which silenced the critics.
Down 12-6 at halftime, a Jason Nightingale try levelled the scores before a dour war of attrition set in. With 40,000 fans perched on the edge of their seats, Jamie Soward landed a 35 metre field goal in the 74th minute to hand the Dragons one of their most memorable victories.
3. Young’s try
It was appropriate that one of the club’s favourite sons would be the man to seal the club’s maiden grand final victory. The son of club legend Craig Young, Dean had fought his way back from injuries which would have seen lesser men retire from the game.
Sealing the grand final clearly meant a lot to him, and his celebratory post-try clutch of the club crest gave every red-blooded Dragons fans chills. The perfect moment for the perfect club man.
4. Blacklock’s brilliance
The career of Brett Kimmorley has always been dogged by the intercept he threw to Matt Bowen in the 2005 Origin series, but his chip kick in the 1999 grand final may have been equally costly.
Over shooting his mark, Kimmorley gifted try-scoring machine Nathan Blacklock a perfect bounce and a disjointed defensive line. The speedster pounced. Scooping up the ball on his own 30 metre-line, he sliced though the entire Storm team untouched to score one of the greatest individual tries in grand final history.
5. Ainscough madness
In that same 1999 grand final, Blacklock’s fellow winger, Jamie Ainscough, would have his own moment, albeit far less memorable for Dragons’ fans.
Known for his flashes of brilliance and occasional moments of madness, Ainscough’s high shot on Craig Smith as he collected a kick resulted in a penalty try to the Storm winger. The decision then allowed Mat Geyer to kick the Storm clear and claim their maiden title.
6. Mundine magic
Back in 1999, the Sharks were the dominant team in the NRL, claiming the minor premiership and then smashing the Broncos early in their finals campaign. But it all came to a crashing halt for the Shire boys when they came face to face with Anthony Mundine. ‘The Man’ posted three tries in a ‘man’ of the match performance, eliminating the minor premiers and sending St George Illawarra into their first NRL grand final.