1979 NSWRFL season

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1979 New South Wales Rugby Football League
Teams 12
Premiers St. George colours.svg St. George (15th title)
Minor premiers St. George colours.svg St. George (14th title)
Matches played 138
Points scored 4375 (total)
31.703 (per match)
Attendance 1,500,369 (total)
10,872 (per match)
Top point scorer(s) Parramatta colours.svg Mick Cronin (253)
Top try scorer(s) St. George colours.svg Mitch Brennan (16)
Manly Sea Eagles colours.svg Tom Mooney (16)

The 1979 NSWRFL season was the 72nd season of Sydney's professional rugby league football competition, Australia's first. Twelve New South Wales Rugby Football League clubs competed for the J J Giltinan Shield and WD & HO Wills Cup during the season, which culminated in a grand final between the St. George and Canterbury-Bankstown clubs. NSWRFL teams also competed in the 1979 Amco Cup.

Season summary[edit]

Twenty-two regular season rounds were played from March till August, resulting in a top five of St. George, Parramatta, Cronulla-Sutherland, Western Suburbs and Canterbury-Bankstown who battled it out in the finals.

Parramatta's Ray Price was the 1979 season's Rothmans Medallist, and also won Rugby League Week's player of the year award.

The 1979 season also saw the retirement from the League of future Australian Rugby League Hall of Fame inductee, Bob Fulton.

Teams[edit]

Twelve clubs, including six of 1908's foundation teams and another six from around Sydney competed for the NSWRFL premiership.

Balmain Tigers
72nd season
Ground: Leichhardt Oval
Coach: Ron Willey
Captain: Allan McMahon
Canterbury home jersey 1966.svg
Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs
45th season
Ground: Belmore Oval
Coach: Ted Glossop
Captain: George Peponis
Cronulla-Sutherland Sharks
13th season
Ground: Endeavour Field
Coach: Norm Provan
Captain: Greg Pierce
Eastern Suburbs Roosters
72nd season
Ground: Sydney Sports Ground
Captain/Coach: Bob Fulton
Manly-Warringah Sea Eagles
33rd season
Ground: Brookvale Oval
Coach: Frank Stanton
Captain: Max Krilich
Newtown Jets home jersey 1972.svg
Newtown Jets
72nd season
Ground: Henson Park
Coach: Warren Ryan
Captain: Trevor Ryan→Ken Wilson
North Sydney Bears home jersey 1979.svg
North Sydney Bears
72nd season
Ground: North Sydney Oval
Coach: Tommy Bishop
Captain: Keith Harris
Parramatta Eels
33rd season
Ground: Cumberland Oval
Coach: Terry Fearnley
Captain: Ray Price
Penrith Panthers
13th season
Ground: Penrith Park
Coach: Len Stacker
Captain: Gary Pethybridge
South Sydney Rabbitohs
72nd season
Ground: Redfern Oval
Coach: Jack Gibson
Captain: Darrel Bampton
St. George Dragons
59th season
Ground: Kogarah Oval
Coach: Harry Bath
Captain: Steve EdgeCraig Young
Western Suburbs Magpies
72nd season
Ground: Lidcombe Oval
Coach: Roy Masters
Captain: Tom Raudonikis

Ladder[edit]

Team Pld W D L PF PA PD Pts
1 St. George colours.svg St. George 22 17 0 5 476 309 +167 34
2 Parramatta colours.svg Parramatta 22 16 0 6 490 317 +173 32
3 Cronulla colours.svg Cronulla-Sutherland 22 14 1 7 367 270 +97 29
4 Western Suburbs colours.svg Western Suburbs 22 14 0 8 396 312 +84 28
5 Canterbury colours.svg Canterbury-Bankstown 22 13 0 9 379 310 +69 26
6 Balmain colours.svg Balmain 22 12 1 9 358 313 +45 25
7 Manly Sea Eagles colours.svg Manly-Warringah 22 11 1 10 341 353 -12 23
8 Eastern Suburbs colours.svg Eastern Suburbs 22 9 1 12 250 321 -71 19
9 South Sydney colours.svg South Sydney 22 9 0 13 286 329 -43 18
10 Panthers colours.svg Penrith 22 6 2 14 211 473 -162 14
11 Newtown colours.svg Newtown Jets 22 6 0 16 321 423 -102 12
12 North Sydney colours.svg North Sydney 22 2 0 20 302 547 -245 4

Finals[edit]

Home Score Away Match Information
Date and Time Venue Referee Crowd
Minor Semi Finals
Parramatta colours.svg Parramatta 24-4 Cronulla colours.svg Cronulla-Sutherland 1 September 1979 Sydney Cricket Ground Gary Cook 28,335
Western Suburbs colours.svg Western Suburbs 6-20 Canterbury colours.svg Canterbury-Bankstown 2 September 1979 Sydney Cricket Ground Greg Hartley 22,104
Major Semi Finals
St. George colours.svg St. George 15-11 Parramatta colours.svg Parramatta 8 September 1979 Sydney Cricket Ground Gary Cook 38,531
Cronulla colours.svg Cronulla-Sutherland 15-30 Canterbury colours.svg Canterbury-Bankstown 9 September 1979 Sydney Cricket Ground Greg Hartley 24,132
Preliminary Final
Parramatta colours.svg Parramatta 14-20 Canterbury colours.svg Canterbury-Bankstown 15 September 1979 Sydney Cricket Ground Greg Hartley 33,291
Grand Final
St. George colours.svg St. George 17-13 Canterbury colours.svg Canterbury-Bankstown 22 September 1979 Sydney Cricket Ground Greg Hartley 50,911

Grand Final[edit]

St. George Dragons Posit. Canterbury-Bankstown
Brian Johnson FB Stan Cutler
Mitch Brennan WG Chris Anderson
Graeme Quinn CE Chris Mortimer
Robert Finch CE Peter Mortimer
Michael Sorridimi WG Steve Gearin
Tony Trudgett FE Garry Hughes
Steve Morris HB Steve Mortimer
Bruce Starkey PR Greg Cook
Steve Edge HK George Peponis (c)
Craig Young (c) PR Peter Smith
George Grant SR Graeme Hughes
Graeme Wynn SR Peter Cassilles
Rod Reddy LK Steve Folkes
Stephen Butler Res. Mark Hughes
Harry Bath Coach Ted Glossop

St. George finished 22 rounds as minor premiers with 17 wins and were straight into the Grand Final after defeating Parramatta in the major semi. Their Grand Final opponents Canterbury, qualified after defeating Wests, Cronulla and Parramatta.

The pre-game talk had been about the match-up of opposing half-backs Steve Morris and Steve Mortimer and the game didn't disappoint, beginning with a 40-metre flying break on a last tackle by Morris from deep in Dragons territory before he was cut down in a classic covering tackle by Mortimer.

The first half belonged to St. George with new fullback Brian Johnson scoring an easy opening try after taking a pass 10 metres out from the Canterbury line. Soon after, Rod Reddy, who was subduing his opponents with his experience and ruthlessness, put Morris into a gap. 'Slippery' kicked ahead and the race was on. Mortimer had a head start and got there first but Morris tackled him into touch.

Soon afterwards Canterbury put a bomb up and toward the St. George in-goal. Brian Johnson was on hand to field the ball and returned it with a 60-metre run ended by a copybook tackle from his opposing fullback Stan Cutler. However the defence was opening up and it wasn't long before the Dragons scored their second try, with winger Mitch Brennan venturing infield and finding a gap courtesy of centre Robert Finch who slipped a short ball to Brennan 30 metres out. The strapping winger made a powerful run to score.

By now, Saints were carving Canterbury up with Morris, on his 20-metre line, putting Graeme Wynn into a gap. The lanky back rower ran 40 metres, leaving defenders in his wake. Next it was 'Rocket' Reddy's turn when Morris, Wynn and Reddy combined down the right flank and exposed the Bulldogs defence. 'Rocket' handled twice in scoring a try under the posts. At half time the score was St George 17 - Canterbury 2.

Canterbury fought back gamely after the break. Steve Gearin and then Peter Mortimer crossed, with two further tries being disallowed. The St. George defence rallied and held from that point until Stan Cutler scored a third try out wide late in the match. St. George's goal-kicking second rower George Grant was the difference on the day, kicking four to ensure a 17-13 victory. Grant had kicked brilliantly all season, scoring 211 points in 1979.

The Dave Brown Medal for the best player on field went to Steve Morris.

St. George 17 (Tries: Johnson, Brennan, Reddy. Goals: Grant 4.)

Canterbury-Bankstown 13 (Tries: Gearin, Mortimer, Cutler. Goals: Gearin 2.)

References[edit]