The Heritage: St George Illawarra Dragons

Men of League Heritage Round kicks-off this weekend (30 March – 2 April), honouring the game’s history and remembering the great players and the people that have been involved in your club, that make Rugby League the greatest game of all. Round 5 of the 2012 NRL Premiership is a chance to celebrate the great and rich traditions of all the NRL clubs – from the foundation members all the way to the league’s newest entrants.

Each club has its own unique story and a special piece of history in Australian sport. The Men of League Foundation continues to support all members of the rugby league family when they need a helping hand. Men of League Ambassadors will make appearances at collection points at all venues. The St George Illawarra Dragons head to Brisbane for their Round 5 Heritage clash with the Broncos on Friday, stirring memories of a famous Red V run to the Grand Final 20 years ago. On the last Sunday in September 1992, St George made their first grand final since 1985, coming up against the new powerhouse in competition - the Brisbane Broncos.

Despite a gallant effort, the Dragons just couldn’t match the firepower of that superb Brisbane team, but they did came back a year later to push the Broncos even further in the 1993 decider, with Brad Mackay becoming just the second player to receive the Clive Churchill Medal from a losing team. The back to back Grand Finals established the St George side of a rivalry that continues to this day.

The ‘St George Dragons’ team for that game on Sunday, September 27, 1992 was: Michael Potter, Ricky Walford, Mark Coyne, Michael Beattie ©, Ian Herron, Peter Coyne, Noel Goldthorpe, Tony Priddle, Wayne Collins, Neil Tierney, David Barnhill, Scott Gourley, Jeff Hardy. Bench: Brad Mackay, Tony Smith, Rex Terp, Matthew Elliott. Coach: Brian Smith. Not to be outdone, the Illawarra side of the joint venture played a number of big matches against the Broncos. After falling to the Broncos in the final of the 1989 mid-week competition (Panasonic Cup), the Steelers won their first competition in 1992 with a 4-2 win in the Toohey’s Challenge over the Broncos. Despite the pre-season victory, the Steelers went on to lose two semi finals to the Broncos in the 1992 playoffs.

The ‘Illawarra Steelers’ team for that game on Sunday, March 15, 1992 was: David Riolo, Brett Docherty, Ryan Girdler, Paul McGregor, Alan McIndoe, Dale Fritz, John Simon, Chris Walsh ©, Dean Schifilliti, Steve Waddell, Craig Izzard, Les Morrissey, Ian Russell. Bench: John Cross, Brendan O’Meara, David Walsh. Coach: Graham Murray. The teams have played 27 times since the Steelers and Dragons became the St George Illawarra Dragons, with the Broncos winning 14 times to 13 since 1999. These two clubs have played in four playoff games (2001, 2006, 2009, 2011), with the Broncos holding a 3-1 advantage.

The current playing group features a host of talent poised to continue a premiership challenge into the future with the likes of Ben Creagh, Ben Hornby and Dean Young conjuring up memories of Scott Gourley, Noel Goldthorpe and Jeff Hardy from that Grand Final team of 1992. A win in Heritage Round over the Broncos would be a nice way to continue the St George Illawarra Dragons’ 2012 premiership campaign. So if you can, get down to the ground and be part of another chapter in the heritage of the greatest game of all.