1951 NSWRFL season
|1951 New South Wales Rugby Football League|
|Premiers||South Sydney (13th title)|
|Minor premiers||South Sydney (12th title)|
|Top points scorer(s)||Ron Rowles (220)|
|Top try-scorer(s)||Johnny Graves (28)|
The 1951 New South Wales Rugby Football League premiership was the forty-fourth season of Sydney’s top-level rugby league competition, Australia’s first. Ten teams from across the city competed for the newly created J. J. Giltinan Shield during the season which culminated in a grand final between South Sydney and Manly-Warringah.
Ground: Leichhardt Oval
Coach: Jim Duckworth
Captain: Stan Ponchard
Ground: Belmore Sports Ground
Coach: Vic Bulgin→Alby Why
Captain: Vic Bulgin
Ground: Sydney Sports Ground
Coach: Ernie Norman
Captain: Alan Cook
Ground: Brookvale Oval
Coach: Wally O'Connell
Captain: Kevin Schubert
Ground: Erskineville Oval
Captain-coach: Frank Farrell
Ground: North Sydney Oval
Coach: Laurie Doran
Captain: Bob Sullivan
Ground: Cumberland Oval
Coach: Vic Hey
Captain: Don Graham
Ground: Redfern Oval
Captain-coach: Jack Rayner
Ground: Kogarah Jubilee Oval
Captain-coach: Johnny Hawke
Ground: Pratten Park
Coach: Jeff Smith
Captain: Peter McLean
Odds-on favourites to retain the premiership, Souths reserved their worst performance of the year for the semi-final against St George being trounced 35-8. This loss meant that a grand final would be necessary to determine the season's premiers. The next week, the Dragons were beaten by a gutsy Manly side in a preliminary final, 18–8. The infant Manly club thus qualified for its first grand final only five seasons after having entered the League in 1947.
|Date and Time||Venue||Referee||Crowd|
|South Sydney||8-35||St. George||1 September 1951||Sydney Cricket Ground||Aub Oxford||39,735|
|Manly-Warringah||37-9||Western Suburbs||8 September 1951||Sydney Cricket Ground||George Bishop||29,444|
|Manly-Warringah||18-8||St. George||15 September 1951||Sydney Cricket Ground||George Bishop||41,845|
|South Sydney||42-14||Manly-Warringah||23 September 1951||Sydney Sports Ground||Jack O'Brien||28,505|
|Clive Churchill||FB||Ron Beaumont|
|John Graves||WG||Jack Lumsden|
|Kevin Woolfe||CE||Warren Simmons|
|Milton Atkinson||CE||Gordon Willoughby|
|Harry Wells||WG||Ron Rowles|
|Norm Spillane||FE||Jim Sullivan|
|Ray Mason||HB||Ken Arthurson|
|Denis Donoghue||PR||Roy Bull|
|Ernie Hammerton||HK||Kevin Schubert (c)|
|Bryan Orrock||PR||Fred Brown|
|Bernie Purcell||SR||Jack Hubbard|
|Jack Rayner (Ca./Co.)||SR||Sandy Herbert|
|Les Cowie||LK||George Hunter|
Manly were without former Test star and captain-coach Wally O'Connell who had a fractured bone in his wrist. The Seagulls were instead captained by hooker Kevin Schubert. Gordon Willoughby played out the match with his leg heavily strapped rather than leave his side further depleted but Manly’s hopes of upsetting the defending premiers were shattered in a spectacular display of attacking rugby league by Souths.
The smallest crowd for a final since 1944 was on hand at the Sports Ground to witness a one-sided game which Souths won 42–14. A highlight of the record win was Test winger John Graves’ four tries in the match – the only time this has been achieved in grand final history.
Souths scored first through Bernie Purcell and led 15–4 at the break. They then piled on twenty-seven points in the second-half. Tries to Clive Churchill, Ray Mason, Jack Rayner and Chick Cowie added to Graves' record haul. The Rabbitohs pack, lead by front rower [Denis Donoghue], dominated Manly’s forwards with Ernie Hammerton giving his team a feast of possession. Bernie Purcell landed seven goals from nine attempts and was also dynamic in attack, being chosen by The Sunday Herald judge, Frank McMillan as the man-of-the-match, for which he received a £10 reward.
Other records set that day include the most points ever scored in a grand final (66 total); the most tries scored by one team in a grand final (8), a mark later matched by Eastern Suburbs in 1975 Grand Final and the most goals scored in grand final (9).
South Sydney Rabbitohs 42
Tries: Graves (4), Churchill, Mason, Rayner, Cowie
Goals: Purcell (7), Hammerton, Donoghue.
Manly-Warringah Sea Eagles 14
Tries: Lumsden (2)
Goals: Rowles (4)
- Goodman, Tom (1951-09-01). "Grand Final for Sunday". The Sydney Morning Herald. Australia. p. 9. Retrieved 2009-12-05.
- "O'Connell to miss Grand Final, but Churchill can play". The Sydney Morning Herald. 1951-09-18. p. 10. Retrieved 2009-11-20.
- "South's record margin League finale". The Sydney Morning Herald. 1951-09-24. p. 6. Retrieved 2009-11-20.
- Rugby League Tables - Season 1951 AFL Tables
- List of Season Results Hunterlink List
- Whiticker, Alan (1992), Grand Finals of the New South Wales Rugby League, Gary Allen, Sydney
- Results:1951-1960 at rabbitohs.com.au
- 1951 J J Giltinan Shield at rleague.com[dead link]
- MSWRFL season 1951 at rugbyleagueproject.com
- Doran&searchLimits=1951 coaches