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Your 2024 SG Ball Cup premiers, the St George Dragons.

The St George Dragons are the SG Ball Cup premiers for 2024 having taken down the Bulldogs 40-18 in Saturday’s Grand Final at CommBank Stadium.

Their Grand Final win proved a fitting way to cap off a dream season for Willie Talau’s men as they secured the side’s first SG Ball Cup premiership since 1992.

The side’s attack set CommBank Stadium alight from early in the piece, but it was their dogged and spirited defence that proved the difference as they cruised to an eight tries to four rout.

Dragons second rower Jacob Halangahu took home Player of the Match honours having terrorised the Bulldogs’ right edge with his powerful carries and inspired defensive efforts for much of the afternoon.

An opening set error gifted the Bulldogs attacking field position and they took full advantage through winger Hamish Wilson who dove over in the right corner to make it 4-0.

It did not take long for the Dragons to hit back however with a perfectly crafted Tyler Peckham-Harris cut-out hitting a flying Zac Nachar who crossed in the right corner to tie things at four-apiece.

The Dragons went back-to-back after marching downfield the following set with prop Ryan Hutchinson on the end of a Brandon Tikinau bomb that rebounded back into attacking arms.

Skipper Shadi Hammoud added the extras to make it 10-4 just 10 minutes into the contest.

Loko Tonga’s ferocious carries off the back fence were a large part of the swing of momentum with the CommBank Stadium crowd growing more vocal with each effort.

A forced dropout saw the Dragons back defending their own line, but their desperation was rewarded with Jesse Williams scooping up an awry pass to retain possession for the Red V before centre David Afu thundered his way upfield to put his side back on the attack.

Williams finished things off taking in a cross-field kick that Hammoud landed on a dime to score in the left corner with the skipper converting the try that he set up to improve the Dragons’ lead to a dozen.

The Dragons showed that they were in a mood early with Tonga charging into the backfield the very next set and finding a supporting Peckham-Harris who was dragged down by the Bulldogs cover.

Bulldogs skipper Mitchell Woods spent too long laying on the tackled player however and was promptly sent to the sin bin.

Tikinau’s boot again came up with a result forcing a Bulldogs error with Peckham-Harris injecting himself into the backline off the scrum in trademark fashion to send Williams over untouched for his second.

The Dragons’ red-hot attack continued the following set with Corey Ackers charging his way through on the last tackle of what was a dominant set to slam the ball down next to the left upright.

Hammoud converted the try to make it 26-4 the way of the Red V heading into halftime.

Peckham-Harris ensured in the opening set of the second half that his impact would be felt not only on the attacking side of the ball pulling off a textbook try-saver in the left-hand corner and earning his side possession back.

Halftime did little to curtail the Dragons’ attacking appetite with Lyric Craft-Te Moananui skying to snatch a Hammoud bomb out of the air to score as the side’s advantage ballooned out to 28.

Points continued to come for the Red V with Peckham-Harris again causing havoc on a sweep play to this time send Nachar over for his second in the right corner.

The Bulldogs managed to stop the bleeding shortly after via left winger Ratu Rinakama who powered his way over off a broken passage of play.

Sione Siulua was put on report for the Bulldogs soon after for a high shot which sparked a push-and-shove with the ever-powerful Afu storming his way over multiple defenders off the tap to get the scoreboard ticking back the way of the Red V.

2024 SG Ball Cup Grand Final Player of the Match Jacob Halangahu.
2024 SG Ball Cup Grand Final Player of the Match Jacob Halangahu.

The Bulldogs found another late through second rower Sosaia Alatini who poked his nose through a gap back against the grain to score.

Hammoud was assisted from the field late nursing an apparent lower leg injury as the mood in the stadium soured somewhat.

It did little to put a dampener on celebrations however with the squad embracing one another despite a late try on the siren to celebrate the Dragons’ first SG Ball Cup premiership in over three decades.

Acknowledgement of Country

St George Illawarra Dragons respect and honour the Traditional Custodians of the land and pay our respects to their Elders past, present and future. We acknowledge the stories, traditions and living cultures of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders peoples, where our games are played, our programs are conducted and in the communities we support.

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