Almanac Rugby League – Chosen Ones

Jack Straw is a recluse but not completely. The house he bought on Jubilee Avenue in the early fifties sits dilapidated but now he rarely leaves the comfort of it. He walks down to his beloved oval, Jubilee Oval five or six times a year to watch the “mighties” go round, as he calls them.

“I attended all eleven grand finals”, he proudly announces rubbing his ghostly white stubble, as I help him to his seat in the southwestern cornerpost. “but I couldn’t make it to the more recent ones – it’s a bit of a circus now”, he adds regretfully.

I ask him what it felt like to be a St George supporter during the golden era; Provan, Gasnier, Langlands, Raper. “We were the chosen ones. Rugby League is the greatest game, don’t get me wrong but it felt like we were chosen for something great back then.”

As I gaze across at the east-side hill on this humid March Friday evening, our first home game of the year, I see the spirit of Jack Straw infused in the chanting and singing of a thousand Dragon army faithful. Tonight we are home.

Its been a slightly tumultuous week in Dragon camp. After the “controversy” of Beau Scott’s announcement of his exit to Bennett’s Newcastle, a shameful loss to local rivals Canterbury Bankstown; and tonight we “welcome” our very own Judas Iscariot figure, Tim Moltzen to our home for the first time since he bailed out on a contract with us.

To people like Jack and the emboldened Dragon Army the actions of Tim Moltzen amounts to sacrilege. “How could an individual so publicly not want to be one of us,” Jack exclaims as the Tigers run out. The crowd waits in anticipation to “death ride” the man who knocked back an offer to wear the much blessed red V.

After a ten minute sorting out period and on the back of a penalty from an Adam Blair cheap shot, Mitch Rein scores from a dummy half double show and go. 6-nil Dragons.

With discipline particularly around the ruck letting them down again, the Tigers allow Brett Morris to break through via an angled run. Morris seemingly held up upright 1 metre out miraculously fires an offload to Dan Hunt who goes over under the posts. 12-nil 15th Minute.

The Tigers hit back with a dubious Beau Ryan try off a Marshall grubber kick in the far NE corner of the ground 12-6.

A Tim Moltzen fumble at the scrum base 10 metres out from the Dragons line adds the Shakesperean tragedy of the Tigers performance. The local faithful are seeing it more as a “comedy of errors”. Jack chuckles.

Five minutes out from half time the Dragons take advantage of an Adam Blair defensive lapse. With a brilliantly timed ball from Hornby Trent Merrin busts through a missed shoulder charge from Blair sending Nathan Fein over for a try 18-6 38th minute.

With the Tigers defending the field goal Fein exploits another soft Tiger middle to send Ben Hornby over for the final try of the first half and right on half time the Dragons surely have the game sewn up at 24-6.

A Tigers comeback, after a dubious try by Joel Reddy, is thwarted by a Daniel Vidot try in the 69th minute. The Dragons ruthlessly finish off the Tigers with a try in the final minutes with a Soward bomb being cleaned up by Morris who deftly sends Ben Creagh over.

Brett Morris was the standout tonight and could very easily answer the important fullback question for the Dragons this year.

St George Illawarra were very close to their best in this dominant performance against fancied opposition. After a last round thrashing where their attitude was questioned they returned to the ruthless mindset of 2010.

Many will expound on the rights and wrongs of ex-coaches like Bennett poaching ex-players and other players like Moltzen reneging on contracts and turning their back on history.

The antidote to all this is realising that players play. Tonight the Dragons players played for themselves with the right attitude and the right execution and in the right spirit of competition.

This is all I ask for and I’m sure, if pressed, Jack would agree.

Jack waddles back behind his crumbling brick fence that separates him from the fleeing hordes still erupting in torrents of ecstasy that only a thrashing of a fancied old rival can bring. The empty disappointment of last week is forgotten.

ST GEORGE ILLAWARRA 36 (B Creagh N Fien B Hornby D Hunt M Rein D Vidot tries J Soward 6 goals) bt WESTS TIGERS 12 (J Reddy B Ryan tries B Marshall 2 goals) at WIN Jubilee Oval.


  1. Nice post Paul. The Dragons were impressive. Clearly, last week was just “one of those days”. It’s going to be tough for my beloved “white V” (in their retro 1947 themed jerseys) next week. We haven’t won away against the Dragons in the regular season for a good while. I’ve got my ticket. It should be a cracker if both teams bring their best games.

  2. Paul Robertson says

    Thanks Niall – looks like Toovs has them in tip top condition.

    May the best team win – hope its a cracker.

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