2010 grand final rewind: Bennett and Boyd end Dragons' drought

The 2010 grand final was a historic one on many levels for the St George Illawarra Dragons, with the club winning their first premiership as a joint venture and coach Wayne Bennett clinching his seventh title. It was his first away from the Brisbane Broncos. 

In the first all-Sydney NRL grand final for six years, the Sydney Roosters were also out to make history, aiming to be the first club in 76 years to go from worst to first in two seasons.

In greasy conditions, very little could separate the sides in the first half with the Dragons leading 8-6 at the break following tries to Mark Gasnier (Dragons) and Joey Leilua (Roosters).

A second-half double to Jason Nightingale helped the Dragons streak away to claim a well-deserved premiership.

Best player

Darius Boyd played the role of conductor throughout much of the game, with his standout moment a weaving run to set up one of Nightingale's tries. He mesmerised and bamboozled the Roosters' outside backs before sending his winger over.

The unsung hero

Anytime you can score two tries in a grand final it will go down as a special moment in a player's career. Nightingale not only crossed twice but was able to do so at critical times to keep the Roosters at bay.

Play of the day

Dean Young capped a memorable moment for his family when he plunged over in the 62nd minute to all-but seal the win, 31 years after his father captained the St George Dragons to their last premiership.

The what-if moment

Young was given the benefit of the doubt about a possible knock-on into Roosters forward Mitch Aubusson when he scored his crucial try. With the Dragons leading 18-8 in the 62nd minute, the try stretched the lead to 16 points and ensured the mountain was too high for the Roosters to climb.

Another try for the Dragons.
Another try for the Dragons. ©NRL Photos

The quote

Wayne Bennett on Darius Boyd's performance and that of the team: "He's been one of our best performers all year and tonight was what I expect from him and what he expects from himself. But teams win grand finals, individuals don't. And a team won here tonight."

Recollections of a champion

Dragons halfback Ben Hornby: "I guess we more felt relief at the time because there was so much pressure leading up the game. Obviously, we were excited but there was a lot of relief after the final siren.

"When we were up by a fair margin at the end of the game we were able to really enjoy the last part of the game with the fans, that's the bit I'll remember the most after it was really tight at half-time and both sides were playing well.

"But when we kicked away in the second half we were able to really enjoy it, which I don't think you get to do with any game much less a grand final." 

A scramble for a loose ball.
A scramble for a loose ball. ©NRL Photos

Recollections of a runner-up

Roosters fullback Anthony Minichiello: "I thought our first half went well as we were leading at half-time (8-6). But then it turned into a bit of a nightmare as the rain came tumbling down.

"We didn't come out with much intensity in that second half and they got the jump on us. Whatever Wayne Bennett said at half-time it really worked for the Dragons because they came out and played as a team.

"Really, they were the most consistent team all year. We were up and down at the start of the season and had a good run towards the end.

"So I think they drew on that consistency they'd shown throughout the year and showed they were the better team."

"We came in the next year expecting to be up there again. And that's not the way it happens in the NRL.

"You've got to start all over again and build that winning culture from day one in the pre-season. I think we were too relaxed that pre-season – myself included – and it just didn't happen for us."

Dragons centre Mark Gasnier.
Dragons centre Mark Gasnier. ©NRL Photos

The year after

 The Dragons were unable to follow up their success in 2011 when they faced the Brisbane Broncos for the second time in three seasons in the semi-finals, this time losing 13-12 in extra-time.

The Roosters suffered an even bigger fall from grace, failing to make the finals and finishing 11th on the ladder after just 10 wins for the year.