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After what seems an eternity the rugby league fan can satisfy his hunger tonight with what promises to be an excellent game of footy between 2 sides who are keen to impress.
Both sides use tonight's game as a benchmark of their respective teams performances and it gives the coaching staff some indications of where improvements are required and where combinations can be improved or fine tuned.
Neither side will go into tonight's game "under done". There is tradition at stake and the pride felt by both teams is immeasurable. Expect a no holds barred contest and with the calibre of both outfits named, it will go to the wire.
The Rabbitohs have spent very wisely over the off season. The return of Terry Hill will add stability to an already very solid looking pack of forwards and will give captain, Bryan Fletcher, a very experienced and mature team mate to call on to share the load. Wingman and ex - Knight, Adam MacDougall will fire in the backline. His strength and ability will cause the Dragons a few problems in defence. Dean Byrne at half back gets to front up against his old club. A promising young player, Dean will be out to stamp some kind of authority on the game and is sure to call on the experience of canny standoff Owen Craigie.
Saint George/Illawara on the other hand have a side which absolutely reeks of experience, maturity and above all, hunger ! With people like try scoring supremo Nathan Blacklock, the defensive abilities of fullback Ben Hornby and the bone jarring tackling style of lock Shaun Timmins, the Dragons are literally an excitement machine with the talent to run the ball from anywhere on the paddock.
There are few adjectives than can describe the pure energy of the Dragons forwards, Lance Thompson will be out to silence his off-season critics, Luke Bailley will cement in everyone's mind that he is one of the best props in the game and newcomer Nathan Long will match anything the Rabbitohs can throw at him.
Some history for you :
YEAR WINNER SCORE CROWD VENUE 1982 St.George 9-7 10,980 Redfern 1983 St George 28-10 9,120 Redfern 1984 Souths 24-6 8,365 Redfern 1985 St George 10-8 8,022 Redfern 1986 St George 12-0 10,164 Redfern 1987 St George 28-14 10,724 Redfern 1988 Souths 30-6 9,678 Redfern 1989 Souths 20-16 10, 491 SFS 1990 Draw 10-10 12,791 SFS 1991 Draw 16-16 12,543 12,543 1992 Souths 21-20 18,120 SFS 1993 St George 10-8 18,231 SFS 1994 St George 14-11 19,266 SFS 1995 St George 18-10 15,643 SFS 1996 St George 30-6 8,920 SFS 1997 St George 26-18 10,242 SFS 1998 St George 14-4 28,310 SFS 1999 Souths 16-14 19,256 SFS 2002 Draw 20-20 36,804 Aussie Stadium 2003 St George Illawarra 28-10 20,838 Aussie Stadium
For the Record;
In the 20 Charity Shield matches contested since 1982, St George have won 12 times; Souths 5; draws 3. Since St George Illawarra was formed in 1999, the Charity Shield has been played three times ? Dragons 1 win, Rabbitohs 1 win; 1 draw.
The Charity Shield was not played in 2000 and 2001 because Souths were not in the NRL competition in those years.
1) Brad Watts 2) Ahmad Bajouri 3) Lee Hookey 4) Adam MacDougall 5) Shane Marteene 6) Owen Craigie 7) Dean Byrne 8) Glenn Hall 9) Shane Walker 10) Filimone Lolohea 11) Bryan Fletcher 12) Ashley Harrison 13) Terry Hill
Saint George/Illawara Dragons:
1. Ben HORNBY 2. Nathan BLACKLOCK 3. David HOWELL 4. Matt COOPER 5. Reece SIMMONDS 6. Trent BARRETT (c) 7. Lachlan RUSSELL 8. Luke BAILEY 9. Mark RIDDELL 10. Nathan LONG 11. Dean YOUNG 12. Lance THOMPSON 13. Shaun TIMMINS
14. Ashton SIMS 15. Michael HENDERSON 16. Brent KITE 17. Henry PERENARA 18. Tony JENSEN 22. Lincoln WITHERS