Category Archives: Club Reports

Club Report – St George Illawarra Dragons

sgi-badgeBackground

St George Illawarra were the first club to form from a merger of the 1980s expansion team Illawarra Steelers and the second most successful NSWRL premiership side of the St George Dragons. The team met early success in their first year, reaching the 1999 grand final and going down to the then newly minted Melbourne Storm.

Through the 2000s, the Dragons were always a threat, regularly making finals appearances. This period of strength reached its peak at the end of the decade with back-to-back minor premierships under Wayne Bennett with Darius Boyd, Jamie Soward and Brett Morris and winning the big one in 2010. Leaner years have followed recently, with the Dragons appearing in only one finals series since 2012. Nonetheless, the Dragons stormed off to flying start this year and remain in contention for a final appearance.

Read more

Club Report – South Sydney Rabbitohs

ssr-badgeBackground

In the tumult of the instigation of the National Rugby League, one of Sydney’s oldest and most successful clubs was on the chopping block after years of below average performance on and off the field. Needing to rationalise the competition to fourteen teams in 2000, the NRL took the decisive step of excluding South Sydney from the competition. This led to years of court action, unprecedented protests and investment from movie stars before the Rabbitohs were returned to the NRL in 2002.

The Bunnies’ return to the NRL was not met with success. Spared the wooden spoon in 2002 thanks to the Bulldogs‘ salary cap rorting, Souths would take the spoon in three of the next four seasons before starting the long march back to the top. Souths first finals appearance in 2007 was the club’s first since 1989. A shallow few years passed before it clicked into place with three consecutive top four finishes and a premiership in 2014.

Read more

Club Report – Penrith Panthers

pen-badgeBackground

Penrith first joined the NSWRL in 1967, the same year that Cronulla was admitted to the competition. Success came much sooner for the Panthers, reaching their first grand final in 1990 and taking out the big prize in 1991.

The Panthers had some leaner years, including a very mediocre 2002 season, before a surge at the start of the 2000s saw a side featuring Rhys Wesser, Preston Campbell, Ryan Girdler, Luke Priddis and captained by Craig Gower taking a second premiership in 2003 and making it deep into the finals the following year.

Since then, the club seems to have a spurt of quality for a season or two before fading into the background again. The Panthers look to be going through a similar spurt at the moment with finals football the cards for two years in a row, which would be only their seventh NRL finals appearance.

Read more

Club Report – North Queensland Cowboys

nqc-badgeBackground

We tend to think of the North Queensland Cowboys as an indisputable top team but in doing this, we forget just how crap they were when they first started out in 1995. The Cowboys joined the ARL as an expansion team at the same time as the Warriors, South Queensland Crushers and Western Reds. Only two of those teams survive today and it was tricky going as the Cowboys established themselves and searched for acceptance in the early days. Eventually, North Queensland built a following in regional Queensland, particularly around their home in Townsville, and their rivalry with the intrastate Brisbane Broncos is one of the most fiercely contested in the NRL.

Since superstar halfback Johnathan Thurston has came to the helm, the Cowboys have strung together a series of finals appearances as good as any team in the league, featuring every year since 2011. Their zenith was reached in 2015 when North Queensland won their first premiership, twenty years after their founding, beating the Broncos in golden point.

Read more

Club Report – New Zealand Warriors

war-badgeBackground

The Auckland Warriors, as they were originally known, were introduced to the competition in 1996, the first expansion team from outside of Australia.

In the heady days of Stacey Jones’ leadership, the team became contenders, winning a minor premiership in 2002 and only falling at the last hurdle in the grand final to the Sydney Roosters. The team would be deep into the finals again in 2003 before being eliminated in the preliminary final by eventual premiers Penrith.

The Warriors went through a period of re-building after Jones left the club in 2005, culminating in another grand final appearance in 2011 under coach Ivan Cleary. While NZ would ultimately lose out to Manly, the Warriors have since maintained a level of adequacy that is neither inspiring nor depressing. The team is struggling to make an impact this year and has faced an unfair call to be dropped from the competition despite never having copped a wooden spoon.

Read more

Club Report – Manly Sea Eagles

man-badgeBackground

After an ARL premiership in 1996, Manly entered the NRL in a slightly awkward position. The Sea Eagles took up the NRL’s offer to merge with local rivals North Sydney, forming the Northern Eagles. On-field performances were terrible and in 2003, it was apparent that the marriage was dysfunctional. The venture got a divorce – the Bears never returned to first grade while the Sea Eagles have stuck it out since.

Since the divorce, Manly have been one of the strongest teams in the competition with an unbroken run of finals appearances from 2005 to 2014. Only the salary cap-breaching Melbourne were better and there’s a solid argument that the two runners-up “honours” held by the Sea Eagles could perhaps have been premierships. The last couple of years have not been up to standard but after a patchy start, this year sees them as genuine finals contenders again.

Read more

Club Report – Canterbury Bulldogs

cnt-badgeBackground

The Canterbury Bulldogs have always been pretty good. Founded in 1934, the Bulldogs are one of Western Sydney’s four NRL clubs. Success came early, finishing runners-up in 1998 to the Broncos. Success continued until massive salary cap rorts were uncovered in 2002 while they were close to securing  a minor premiership. Fortunately, they achieved little of import during this period and, unlike the later Storm, weren’t stripped of a bunch of titles. The Bulldogs managed to recover and made the finals in 2003 and took out the top prize in 2004.

A leaner period followed in the back end of the 2000s, featuring a scandal or two and culminating in a 2008 wooden spoon. Canterbury returned to form circa 2012 and since then, the Doggies have made the finals each season. This season is a mixed success but a good run to the end of the year may see them make it six in a row.

Read more

« Older Entries Recent Entries »