Re: ST GEORGE ILLAWARRA DRAGONS INTO THE 2010 NRL RUGBY LEAGUE GRAND FINAL
Grand Final tale of revenge and resurrection
Revenge and resurrection will underpin the Dragons and Roosters campaigns for the Telstra Premiership Grand Final at ANZ Stadium next Sunday (October 3) after both sides showed this weekend what a difference 12 months can make to qualify for the 2010 season-decider.
The Dragons and Roosters were at opposite ends of the NRL ladder last year as minor premiers and wooden-spooners ... and both missed the finals, but the 2010 Grand Final series has already shown how far they have come as St George Illawarra ground out a 13-12 win over the Wests Tigers on Saturday night at ANZ Stadium and the Roosters thumped the Titans 32-6 on Friday night at Brisbane's Suncorp Stadium to qualify for next Sunday's shot at glory.
In front of a combined total crowd of over 115,00 rugby league fans in Brisbane and Sydney this weekend, the Dragons and Roosters have set the stage for an enthralling Grand Final in what will be their 24th encounter since the formation of St George Illawarra in 1999 (Dragons - 14 wins, 1 draw, eight losses). As St George, the Dragons and Roosters last met in a Grand Final in 1975.
For the Dragons, the 2010 Grand Final offers them the chance to avenge the controversial loss to Melbourne Storm in their first and only finals appearance (as the merged St George Illawarra Dragons); as well as their straight sets loss last year despite winning the Minor Premiership in their first season under six-time Premiership-winning coach Wayne Bennett; their second-last week finals exits in 2005 and 2006; and even shake off the unwanted "choker" tag.
While for the Roosters, the 2010 Grand Final marks a miraculous turnaround for the club and their Dally M winning five-eighth Todd Carney; and gives them the chance to become the first team since Western Suburbs in 1934 to go from wooden spooners to premiers the following season and finally end veteran coach Brian Smith's title drought.
Just 12 months ago Carney was completing his year-long exile from the NRL playing park football in far north Queensland (and losing their grand final) and the Roosters had “won” the wooden spoon, while off-field they had earned themselves the “Bondi bad boys” tag.
Already this season’s efforts have been recognised with their Dally M captain, coach overall and positional wins … but a 13th premiership for the club and the first for evergreen coach Brian Smith would be the ultimate dream come true.
“It’s a dream come true … I’ve never been a happier person in my whole life,” Carney told the Nine Network after the match.
Likewise, Dragons hooker Dean Young described the opportunity as a "dream come true" ... but no fairytale is without drama and both Carney and Young may hear from the Match Review Committee on Monday.
Carney was placed on report for a high tackle on Titans half Scott Prince in the 37th minute. Fortunately he has no carry-over baggage which could save him if he cops a low grade charge; but he will miss the Grand Final if he incurs more than 100 penalty points.
While Young was involved in a verbal clash with rival hooker Robbie Farah, with Young alleged to have made a racially derogatory remark. The NRL Match Review committee will investigate the incident as part of their normal review process