1931 NSWRFL season
|1931 New South Wales Rugby Football League|
|Premiers||South Sydney (10th title)|
|Minor premiers||Eastern Suburbs (4th title)|
|Top points scorer(s)||Jack Lynch (124)|
|Top try-scorer(s)||Jack Lynch (16)|
The 1931 New South Wales Rugby Football League premiership was the twenty-fourth season of Sydney’s top-level rugby league club competition, Australia’s first. During the season, which lasted from April until September, eight teams from across the city contested the premiership which culminated in a grand final between minor premiers Eastern Suburbs and South Sydney.
The NSWRFL banned radio broadcasting of its matches in 1931 on the grounds that it was affecting the gates. After a year of broadcasts from nearby rooftops and ladders outside the grounds the League rescinded their ban.
- Balmain, formed on January 23, 1908, at Balmain Town Hall
- Eastern Suburbs, formed on January 24, 1908, at Paddington Town Hall
- Newtown, formed on January 14, 1908
- North Sydney, formed on February 7, 1908
- South Sydney, formed on January 17, 1908, at Redfern Town Hall
- St. George, formed on November 8, 1920, at Kogarah School of Arts
- Western Suburbs, formed on February 4, 1908
- University, formed in 1919 at Sydney University
Ground: Birchgrove Oval
Coach: Reg Latta
Captain: Arthur Toby
Captain: Sammy Ogg
Ground: Marrickville Oval
Captain: Jack Holmes
Ground: North Sydney Oval
Captain-Coach: Tom Wright
Ground: Earl Park
Captain-coach: Harry Kadwell
Ground: Sydney Sports Ground
Coach: Charlie Lynch
Capatin: Pat Maher
Ground: Sydney Sports Ground
Coach: Arthur Halloway
Captain: Norm Pope
Coach: Frank McMillan
Captain: Bill Brogan
|Date and Time||Venue||Referee||Crowd|
|South Sydney||16 - 5||St. George||21 August 1931||Sydney Sports Ground||McGrath||17,561|
|Eastern Suburbs||8 - 10||Western Suburbs||29 August 1931||Sydney Sports Ground||Webby Neill||20,387|
|South Sydney||17 - 3||Western Suburbs||5 September 1931||Sydney Sports Ground||Lal Dean||22,767|
|Eastern Suburbs||7 - 12||South Sydney||12 September 1931||Sydney Sports Ground||Lal Dean||27,104|
|South Sydney||Position||Eastern Suburbs|
|Albert Spillane||FB||Morrie Boyle|
|Benny Wearing||WG||Billy Hong|
|Jack Morrison||CE||Dave Brown|
|Pat Maher||CE||Jack Lynch|
|Jack Why||WG||Fred Tottey|
|Jim Deeley||FE||Ernie Norman|
|Harry Eyers||HB||Norm Pope (c)|
|Carl Eggen||PR||Ray Stehr|
|Edward Root||HK||Dick Brown|
|Frank Curran||PR||Perc Atkinson|
|George Treweek (c)||SR||Max Nixon|
|Frank O'Connor||SR||Joe Pearce|
|Percy Williams||LK||Les Rogers|
|Charlie Lynch||Coach||Arthur Halloway|
Eastern Suburbs started the match as short-priced favourites, and ran with the breeze from the western end after their captain Pope won the toss. With hooker Dick Brown dominating the scrums, Eastern Suburbs attacked early. The first points came at the twenty-minute mark when Lynch kicked a goal after O’Connor was penalised in front of the posts. He missed another attempt two minutes later but Easts went further ahead when Lynch kicked another goal, from a drop kick. Benny Wearing had his chance for South Sydney but was pulled down from behind by Dave Brown two yards from the line. At halftime Eastern Suburbs led 4–0.
Five-minutes after the break South Sydney seized control of the match. They attacked desperately as Treweeke, Curran and then Root hurled themselves at the Eastern Suburbs line. A scrum followed and with an overlap out wide Wearing crossed unopposed in the corner. The winger then converted his own try to give South Sydney a 5–4 lead. Eastern Suburbs then hit back with a remarkable try. Billy Hong gathered in his own twenty-five yard area, stepped through the defence to halfway, passed to Tottey who beat Morrison in a race for the ball. Dave Brown missed the goal, Eastern Suburbs led 7–5. South Sydney fullback Spillane then landed a goal from two yards on his own side of halfway to level the score at 7–all.
Hong then went off after twisting an ankle, Eastern Suburbs struggled to contend with the extra man in South Sydney’s backline. Chances followed for both sides – South Sydney’s winger, Why, was thrown out at the corner post, Morrison lost possession close to the line and Brown missed with a penalty.
With only minutes left and scores locked at 7–all, South Sydney five-eighth Harry Eyres seized possession inside Eastern Suburbs quarter, stood still for a split second, then with an electrifying burst of speed exploded through the converging defence. He beat the ineffective tackle of Hong (who had come back onto the field) and with the referee accidentally getting in the way of Brown coming over in cover defence for Eastern Suburbs, Eyres crossed for the match winning try. Hong then collapsed and had to be carried from the field as Williams was converting the try.
It was widely claimed as one of the most thrilling Grand Finals in the short history of the game in Sydney.
South Sydney 12
Tries: Wearing, Eyres. Goals: Wearing, Williams, Spillane
Eastern Suburbs 7
Tries: Tottey. Goals: Lynch (2)
- Premiership Roll of Honour Archived 2010-10-11 at the Wayback Machine at rl1908.com
- "RUGBY LEAGUE: Grand Final". The Sydney Morning Herald. Australia. 1931-09-08. p. 13. Retrieved 2009-12-04.
- "South Sydney Premiers: Thrilling Grand Final". The Sydney Morning Herald. Australia. 1931-09-14. p. 6. Retrieved 2009-12-04.