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The St. George Illawarra Dragons are an Australian professional rugby league football club. They compete in the National Rugby League. The club entered the NRL competition in 1999 as a joint venture between the St. George Dragons and the Illawarra Steelers. They officially formed as the game’s first joint venture on 23 September 1998 and remain the only cross-city team in the NRL. The team has its headquarters and leagues clubs in both Wollongong and the Sydney suburb ofKogarah, and train and play games regularly at WIN Stadium in Wollongong as well as at WIN Jubilee Oval in Kogarah.
 
The Dragons reached the grand final in their first season in 1999, losing to the Melbourne Storm. They have yet to make another grand final appearance, but have only failed to reach the finals three times since their first season. The St. George Illawarra Dragons also field teams in local competitions within the St. George and Illawarra regions.
 
In the wake of the Super League war of the mid-1990s, and the resulting split competition of 1997, the Illawarra Steelers found themselves struggling financially and seemed unlikely to survive past 1999. The St. George Dragons largely financed a proposal for a joint venture which would see the St George Illawarra Dragons playing in both Kogarah and Wollongong. Essentially, St George would provide the money while the Illawarra would provide a broader junior base. With the NRL's intention to rationalise the competition from 20 teams down to 14 teams and with substantial financial incentives and a relaxing of salary cap requirements for joint ventures, the Dragons and the Steelers ensured their survival by forming the League's first joint venture on 23 September 1998.
 
In early 2006, WIN Television Network bought a 25% share in the St. George Illawarra club for $6.5 million (half of Illawarra's share), erasing most of the debt Illawarra had to St. George. This formalised the strong support the network has shown for the Steelers in years gone by and ensured that Wollongong will continue to host world class rugby league matches. WIN Corp can only sell their stake back to the Steelers, should they wish to withdraw their involvement, thus ensuring Illawarra are properly represented in the joint venture.
 
David Waite and Andrew Farrar (1999–2002)
Joint ventures being a new concept in Australian rugby league, the public watched closely in anticipation of success or failure. No-one was certain how the top players sourced from the joint venture's two feeder clubs would perform when they ran out onto the field. They were unsuccessful in their first outing, losing to the Parramatta Eels 20–10, but by the 4th round they had started to form some cohesion and would go on to achieve a top 8 position on the competition ladder by the end of the regular season. In the semi-finals the Dragons won against the Melbourne Storm at Olympic Park, before returning to Sydney to dispose of theSydney Roosters and Cronulla to reach the Grand Final.
 
In the 1999 Grand Final the Dragons were leading by 14–0 at the break in front of a world record crowd of 107,999. A fairytale of a maiden title in their first year seemed destined to come true; something of an advertisement to any other clubs considering the option of a joint venture, but the Storm recovered from their poor start and went into the final minutes of the game with the Dragons leading by 18–14. The Dragons were forced to perform a drop kick from their own goal line, and on the fifth tackle Brett Kimmorley kicked high towards the Dragon's corner of the field. As the Storm's winger Craig Smith caught the ball over the try-line he was knocked unconscious in a tackle by Jamie Ainscough and lost the ball. Referee Bill Harrigan deferred to the video referee who ruled a penalty try on the grounds that contact had been made with the head, giving Melbourne a 20–18 lead and the premiership title.
 
In the 2000 season though they had a rough start and were quoted to "suck, the Dragons recorded their worst defeat for the club, losing 70–10 against the Melbourne Storm in round 5. This was the first game these two teams played against each other since the 1999 grand final, and was played at the MCG. On 3 May to the surprise and shock of fans and club officials, Anthony Mundine announced his retirement from the club and rugby league in general with immediate effect to pursue a career in boxing. The Dragons were not going well in the first half of the 2000 season, and the main coach David Waite was replaced with assistant coach, Andrew Farrar. Soon after the replacement of coaches, the Dragons recorded their best ever win. They beat the Warriors 54–0 in round 14 at Win Stadium. The Dragons, however, missed out of the finals series, and came 9th.
 
Nathan Brown era (2003–2008)
In 2003, Nathan Brown, the joint venture's first number 9 achieved the position of coach, becoming the youngest non-playing coach in premiership history at the age of 29. The Dragons finished the season 10th.
 
2004 saw the final season of the try scoring talent Nathan Blacklock. An extraordinary scoreline was seen in the round 25 clash with Manly. Trailing 34–10 after 53 minutes the Dragons came back to win the match 36–34. This was the second biggest comeback in Australian Rugby League history. Finishing 5th, the Dragons were eliminated in the first round of the finals after losing in a thrilling game 30–31 to 4th placed Penrith.
 
In 2005, after their worst start to a season yet (losing 5 of their first 6 games), the St. George Illawarra side finished second in a close season on the ladder at completion of the 2005 season, just behind minor premiers the Parramatta Eels on points difference. Nathan Brown was also involved in a sideline incident when he had slapped Trent Barrett in Wollongong during a game against Manly, and was issued a $5000 fine. After progressing to the finals they defeated local rivals the Cronulla Sharks 28–22 in the quarter final of the finals series though the Dragons eventually fell 12–20 to eventual champions the Wests Tigers in the Preliminary Final. The Dragons broke the ground record at WIN Stadium twice in the 2005 season. First against rivals the Sydney Roosters and then at their home quarter final game against the Cronulla Sharks.
 
After a bad start to the 2006 season, the Dragons put on a mid season 7 game winning streak. This was followed by an unfortunate form slump, with a record five consecutive losses, only to return to form with a victory over the Tigers, and continue this positive form leading into the finals. The Dragons ended the regular season in sixth position.
 
In the finals campaign, St George faced Brisbane Broncos at Suncorp Stadium in the first round, the Dragons won the game 20–4. In the second round, they met the Manly Sea Eagles at the Sydney Football Stadium winning 28–0. In the grand final qualifier, they played the Melbourne Storm, where the Dragons went down 24–10 bowing out of season 2006.
 
Season 2007 saw an early injury to Mark Gasnier in the Charity Shield match against South Sydney Rabbitohs creating another poor start for the Dragons. Combined with the loss of key players such as Luke Bailey, Trent Barrett and Shaun Timmins in the off-season, the Dragons faced NRL newcomers, the Gold Coast Titans, in Round 1. The Dragons won the historic match 20–18, however lost 6 more matches after that leaving the Dragons sitting in 15th place on the NRL Ladder. This was a very inexperienced Dragons team that seemed destined for a poor injury plagued season. However, in Round 17 (vs Canberra Raiders atWIN Stadium), the Dragons scored four times more points than their previous game average, winning the match 58–16, equalling their highest ever score and their largest victory in three years. The Dragons season ended with a 28–24 loss to the Manly Sea Eagles at Brookvale Oval, finishing at 13th place.
 
2008 saw the end of an era, with Coach Nathan Brown's contract not renewed after yet another poor start to the season, winning 1 of their first 6 matches. The club received a boost in May when former dual-code international player Wendell Sailor joined the team. Several notable players departed at the end of the year including Jason Ryles and captain Mark Gasnier. The Dragons finished the season in 7th place, however they lost in the first round of the finals to eventual premiers Manly Sea Eagles 34–6 at Brookvale Oval ending a disappointing season. The era under Brown was one of frustration for Dragons fans, as there were high expectations for the strong side, but ultimately no premierships.
 
Wayne Bennett (2009–present)
2009, a new season a new coach and ground sponsor WIN at Jubilee Oval. Several new faces joined the club, including Jeremy Smith, Darius Boyd, Neville Costigan, Michael Weyman and Luke Priddis. The season opener against the Storm ended in a thrilling golden point extra time loss (17–16). Round 3 set a new crowd record with the victorious return to WIN Jubilee against Cronulla.
 
They were consistently placed first on the competition ladder in 2009, contributed by a continuous winning streak of seven games since their win against the North Queensland Cowboys on 14 June. They lost first position after a three-game losing streak while the Canterbury Bulldogs won all games in that period, but remain in the top three. However, in the final round of the 2009 regular season, St. George Illawarra defeated in-form Parramatta Eels 37–0, a game in which winger Brett Morris obtained a hat-trick and man of the match honours, while the Bulldogs lost 34–12 to the Wests Tigers. In the same game, St. George Illawarra five-eighth Jamie Soward surpassed Harry Bath's record for most points in a season by a St. George player. As a result, the Dragons won the minor premiership for the 2009 and Wayne Bennett's first season at the club, although the team was eliminated from the finals after losing both their finals matches.
 
Season 2010 has seen the club lose just two matches in the 2010 season, against eventual wooden spooners the Melbourne Storm and 2008 premiers the Manly-Warringah Sea Eagles. This is one less loss than this time last year (when they had lost three matches). They had won their first three matches of the season including against teams that knocked the Dragons out of the finals the previous year.
 

Emblems and Colours
 

The team colours of the St. George Illawarra Dragons are red and white, colours shared by both the St. George Dragons and Illawarra Steelers. The joint venture's logo was taken directly from that of St George, with the addition of "Illawarra" to the bottom of the emblem. The emblem reflected the rich history of the St George Dragons, including an incredible 11 consecutive premierships, and the future strength of the club with the Illawarra.
 
The club name Dragons, is a shortened version of "Dragonslayers", the original nickname of St George. The emblem features a red shield with a siluette of St. George, overlaid with a white stylised Dragon, with the words "ST. GEORGE" and "ILLAWARRA" above and below the shield respectively. It was originally intended for St George to face right and the Dragon to face left. It is one of the most recognisable logos in Australian sport.
 
When the St George Illawarra Dragons were formed in 1998, it was decided that the jersey of St George (first used in 1945), the famous "Red V" on white, would become the main jersey for the new club. The red used was changed to the scarlet tone used by the Steelers.
 
The alternate jersey initially used by the club was red and white horizontal stripes, similar to the 1921 St George Jersey known as the "blood and bandages". Since 2006, this Jersey has been reserved for use as the St George Illawarra Heritage Jersey for special occasions. This Jersey is worn during Heritage Round, when the Dragons confront fierce local rivals the Bulldogs RLFC.
 
In 2004 and 2005, the club used a jersey similar to the Steelers main jersey for Heritage matches, acknowledging the rugby league history of the Illawarra region, though not as a full time alternate strip. This jersey was predominantly red with white stripes on the sleeves. With Adidas producing the club's official merchandise from 2006, a generic Adidas design – predominantly red with three white stripes down the sleeves – was adopted as the full time alternate strip; before another re-design in 2008, which better reflected the old Steelers jersey. Reebok will produce supporter and team kits from the 2010 season.

Source: Wikipedia
 

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