South Sydney vs The Red V

 

Played

Won 

Lost 

 Draw

For 

Against 

W% 

St George

163

69

92

2

2364

2857

43%

Finals

16

9

7

0

231

219

56%

Illawarra

31

12

17

2

523

625

42%

St George Illawarra

28

12

16

0

575 (21 ppg)

670 (24 ppg)

43%

Last 10 Years

16

10

6

0

360 (23 ppg)

256 (16 ppg)

63%

*Charity Shield not included in stats

Although an attempt was made to launch the St George Rugby League Club at a meeting at the Rockdale Town Hall in 1908, the club first competed in the NSWRL competition in 1921. By this time Souths had won four premierships and established ourselves as a force in the game.

They didn't trouble us until the end of the 1920s but were growing into a strong club, challenging us for the premiership in 1927. The Sydney Agricultural Ground was a mud­ heap, lashed by freezing winds and driving rain, and South Sydney won 20-11 to make it three Premierships in a row.

The following year the Dragons took out the Minor Premiership for the first time, but came undone against us in the famous "Battle of Earl Park" semi-final. Souths played most of the match with 11 men and the scores were locked at 5-all at full time, before legendary Rabbitoh forward George Treweek set up two tries in extra time. We triumphed 13-5, going on to win the Premiership the following week. We conquered them again in 1931, winning 16-5 in the minor semi­final at the Sports Ground, before winning yet another Premiership, our sixth in seven years.

It wasn't until 1949 that St George beat us in a really big match. Souths were Minor Premiers but Saints knocked us off 16-12 in the semi-final, and then again in the Grand Final, winning 19-12 in a ferocious match. Nobody at the ground that day could have realised that this match would begin an amazing sequence of 23 seasons during which 21 Premierships were won by either St George or South Sydney.

Our second golden era began in 1950, winning five of the next six Premierships, and Saints were to figure in some great games during this era. When the Rabbitohs performed the "Miracle of' 55", we played St George in the Preliminary Final and, despite being down 14-9 with just minutes to go, triumphed 18-14 before going on to win the Premiership again. But it was the last time we beat them in a big game for years.

In 1956 St George took over, beginning their world record run of 11 successive Premierships. They beat us 15 times in a row up until the end of 1964. The great South Sydney team of the late '60s was forged in some of these battles however, and in 1965 we really seemed to have their measure. We beat them twice during the year and the league world was so excited at the prospect of the young Rabbitohs knocking off the champions in the Grand Final that the Sydney Cricket Ground nearly burst at the seams. The record crowd was officially 78,056, but thousands more clambered for every available vantage point, many perching on the roofs of the old grandstands. The match had its  share of controversy, with some claiming that referee Col Pearce allowed the Dragons to encroach inside the three yards in defence (the rule then was three yards), but the history books show that we were defeated 12-8.

The Dragons great run produced one more Premiership before Souths last golden era began in 1967, the year when the four-tackle rule marked the introduction of limited tackle football. We beat St George both times during the 1967 season and then again, 13-8, in the major semi-final, before going on to beat Canterbury in the big one. The next year we knocked them out 20-8 in the Preliminary Final en route to back-to-back titles.

We were up against St George in the 1971 decider, with an Eric Simms field goal making it 1-0 at halftime. In the second half winger Ray Branighan and lock Ron Coote scored converted tries for us to lead 11-0, before St George struck back with two of their own. The game hung in the balance at 11-10 until, with just two minutes left, Coote broke clear, drew St George fullback Graeme Langlands and passed inside to a rampaging Bob McCarthy, who scored under the posts to clinch the Premiership.

We haven't played the Dragons again in a Grand Final, but the rivalry has continued unabated.

In both 1980 and 1984 we endured tough starts to the season, but managed to turnaround and just scrape into the semi-finals. In both years though, it was the Dragons who unceremoniously disposed of us. The 1984 match was most famous for erupting into a vicious brawl in the first five minutes, with the fight sprawling across 50 metres of the SCG.

lllawarra joined the competition in 1982 and, despite losing our very first game against the Steelers, we had little trouble with them. When they merged with St George at the end of 1998 to form the St George lllawarra Dragons, our very first match against the new club, in March 1999, was played on the hallowed turf of the Sydney Cricket Ground.

We were behind 18-8 at halftime but roared home with tries to centre Jason Nicol, lock Chris Caruana and our fullback that day, a local boy named Craig Wing. A field goal by halfback Darrell "Tricky" Trindall secured a 25-24 win.

From then until 2011 we lost 14 of our next 16, with some crushing defeats, none more demoralising than Round 26 of 2010. Needing a victory in the final round to make the finals, we travelled out to Kogarah in front of a sell-out crowd. With the Minor Premiership already wrapped up the Dragons rested four key players, but that was our last piece of good news for 2010. The Red V was on fire that night - second rower Ben Creagh scored a hat trick in the first 20 minutes! - and the match, along with our season, ended in a 38-24 demolition.

Since then though, we have won 10 of our last 16 Premiership matches against the Dragons, including an absolute cracker in late 2011 on a Sunday afternoon in Wollongong, once more with our finals hopes hanging in the balance. The Dragons again shot out of the blocks, leading by 20 points after just 20 minutes. We scored a consolation try before halftime, but you couldn’t blame any Rabbitohs supporter for thinking it was already over. However, a different side came out after the break and we piled on three tries, two thanks to Chris Sandow’s boot, to lead 22-20 with 25 minutes left. It was an unbelievable and exhilarating turnaround, but the job wasn’t done as the Dragons hit back with less than ten to go.

But again it was the boot of Sandow that proved the difference, as the ball bounced into touch from the kickoff, giving us possession just 20 metres from the line.

Two tries in the last five minutes capped off an unforgettable 34-24 victory, with centre Dylan Farrell bagging a hat-trick. It was just our second victory in Wollongong in over two decades, and the start of our resurgent dominance against the Red V.

The following season we met the Dragons in Round 11 at Kogarah on a Sunday afternoon.

With the scores locked up at halftime, the Dragons broke through and took an 18-12 lead. But the never say die attitude of the Rabbitohs conjured up a late equalising try to winger Andrew Everingham, which sent the match into golden point. Souths Junior and rookie halfback Adam Reynolds came of age that day, kicking the winning field goal in a memorable 19-18 victory.

In recent years we’ve had some big matches against the Dragons, particularly at the Sydney Cricket Ground, including John Sutton’s record breaking match in 2014, where he surpassed Bob McCarthy’s record for most games for the Club. There was also the Greg Inglis field goal debacle in 2016, and few would forget our 26-24 victory last season, where we scored two tries in the last five minutes to steal the match.

Whenever the Rabbitohs and the Dragons face off there is a lot at stake, with nearly 100 years of history and over 200 matches played between us. Of the 109 premierships already decided, these two clubs combined have won no less than 37. That statistic alone gives a feel for the depth of history and tradition. 

The cardinal and myrtle of South Sydney. The red "V" of the Dragons. 

These are the most famous colours in Australian rugby league. When we go into battle against them, we face a truly worthy foe and we must draw on the stories of the past in order to produce the glories of the future. Against the Dragons, that's just the way it is.