1955 NSWRFL season
|1955 New South Wales Rugby Football League|
|Premiers||South Sydney (16th title)|
|Minor premiers||Newtown (6th title)|
|Top points scorer(s)||Doug Fleming (185)|
|Top try-scorer(s)|| Brian Allsop (18)
Ian Moir (18)
The '1955 NSWRFL season was the 48th season of the New South Wales Rugby Football League. Ten teams from across Sydney competed for the NSWRFL Premiership J. J. Giltinan Shield during the season, which culminated in a re-play of the previous year's Grand Final between the South Sydney and Newtown clubs.
Halfway through the 1955 season Souths were in equal last place having won just three of nine matches. From that point they didn't lose another game, winning nine season encounters in a row before the finals. Eventually they finished fourth. Had they lost a single one of these games they would have missed the finals.
In the second last match of the regular season Souths met Manly-Warringah and were behind 7-4 with moments to go. Clive Churchill had broken his arm early in the game tackling Manly winger George Hugo but refused to leave the field. Souths lock Les Cowie managed to score a try in the corner and Churchill with a broken arm took a sideline conversion attempt that wobbled over the posts and won Souths the game. Churchill would take no part in Souths' 1955 finals campaign.
Ground: Leichhardt Oval
Coach: Norm "Latchem" Robinson
Captain: Bill Marsh
Ground: Belmore Sports Ground
Coach: Vic Hey
Captain: Ray Gartner
Ground: Sydney Sports Ground
Coach: Frank O'Connor
Captain: Noel Pidding
Ground: Brookvale Oval
Coach: Pat Devery
Captain: Roy Bull
Ground: Henson Park
Capt./Coach: Dick Poole
Ground: North Sydney Oval
Coach: Rex Harrison
Captain: George Martin
Ground: Cumberland Oval
Captain-Coach: Johnny Slade
Ground: Redfern Oval
Capt./Coach: Jack Rayner
Ground: Kogarah Oval
Captain-Coach: Ken Kearney
Ground: Pratten Park
Captain-Coach: Keith Holman
|Date and Time||Venue||Referee||Crowd|
|Manly-Warringah||12-14||South Sydney||27 August 1955||Sydney Cricket Ground||Darcy Lawler||35,677|
|Newtown||11-8||St. George||3 September 1955||Sydney Cricket Ground||Darcy Lawler||34,158|
|St. George||14-18||South Sydney||10 September 1955||Sydney Cricket Ground||Col Pearce||41,583|
|Newtown||11-12||South Sydney||17 September 1955||Sydney Cricket Ground||Col Pearce||42,466|
|Don Murdoch||FB||Gordon Clifford|
|Ian Moir||WG||Kevin Considine|
|Martin Gallagher||CE||Dick Poole (Ca./Co.)|
|Malcolm Spencer||CE||Brian Clay|
|Dale Puren||WG||Ray Preston|
|John Dougherty||FE||Ray Kelly|
|Col Donohoe||HB||Bobby Whitton|
|Denis Donoghue||PR||Les Hampson|
|Ernie Hammerton||HK||Greg Ellis|
|Norm Nilson||PR||Don Stait|
|Bernie Purcell||SR||Frank Narvo|
|Jack Rayner (Ca./Co.)||SR||Henry Holloway|
|Les Cowie||LK||Peter Ryan|
After their incredible nine game end of season run and having come from behind in both their semi-finals it looked unlikely that South's fairytale would end happily on Grand Final day. They were without stars Clive Churchill and Greg Hawick. Newtown were the minor premiers and had eleven of their 1954 Grand Final side back for the 1955 decider, all fit, experienced and keen to avenge their 1954 loss.
The 1955 Grand Final was very closely fought out. Souths trailed 8-4 at half-time and the Bluebags looked home with an 11-7 lead with ten minutes remaining. In the final moments captain-coach Jack Rayner managed to win a strike in the play-the-ball and toed it through. Newtown lock Peter Ryan fumbled and again Rayner got the boot to it. Souths halfback Col Donohoe won the race and grounded the ball next to the posts, enabling an easy conversion by Bernie Purcell for the Rabbitohs to take a one-point lead.
A last gasp long-range penalty goal attempt from Bluebags fullback Gordon Clifford was unsuccessful and Souths won by a single point. Despite being the best performed side for two successive seasons Newtown had nothing in the trophy cabinet to show for it. Souths had timed an extraordinary premiership run to absolute perfection.
Jack Rayner's fifth grand final win that day stands along with Ken Kearney's five wins by 1960 as the most number of grand final successes by an individual as captain. As captain-coach for all of those wins Rayner was thus also the first man to coach a side to five grand final victories, a record subsequently matched by Jack Gibson and beaten in 2006 by Wayne Bennett.
South Sydney 12 Tries: Moir, Donohoe. Goals: Purcell 3.
Newtown 11 Tries: Considine. Goals: Clifford 3. Fld Goal: Clifford