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April 23: St George's first game; The Pearl shines

On this day in rugby league history, the Red V kicks off, The Pearl dazzles for the Broncos and Darren Smith answers an SOS from the Supercoach.


St George play their first premiership match – coincidentally on St George’s Day – at the Sydney Sports Ground. In a match described as "not remarkable for brilliancy", Saints are beaten 4-3 by Glebe. Local junior George Carstairs scores the first try for the club. The famous club won 16 premierships as a stand-alone entity, including the record 11 straight titles from 1956-66, before becoming part of a joint venture with the Steelers to form St George Illawarra in 1999.


Paul Vaughan was born in Canberra. The towering prop made his NRL debut in 2013 for the Raiders and played 85 matches for the Green Machine before joining St George Illawarra in 2017. He played 96 games before parting company with the Dragons in 2021 and heading to the Bulldogs. He made his State of Origin debut in 2018, one of many debutants in Brad Fittler's side which upset Queensland 2-1.

Blues forward Paul Vaughan.
Blues forward Paul Vaughan. ©Gregg Porteous/NRL Photos


A crowd of 14,672 delighted to the attacking skills of Brisbane centre Steve Renouf, who collected four tries in Brisbane’s 36-14 defeat of Balmain at Optus Oval in Melbourne.


Australia’s new halves combination of Craig Gower and Darren Lockyer orchestrate a 37-10 defeat of New Zealand in the Anzac Test at EnergyAustralia Stadium.


Former Test forward Darren Smith answers an SOS from Broncos coach Wayne Bennett to make a return to the NRL following an injury to Test forwards Tonie Carroll and Petero Civoniceva. The 36-year-old had been playing for Brisbane Easts in the Queensland Cup.


This article contains information from the official records of NRL historian David Middleton.

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National Rugby League respects and honours the Traditional Custodians of the land and pay our respects to their Elders past, present and future. We acknowledge the stories, traditions and living cultures of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples on the lands we meet, gather and play on.

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