1966 NSWRFL season
|1966 New South Wales Rugby Football League|
|Premiers||St. George (13th title)|
|Minor premiers||St. George (12th title)|
|Top points scorer(s)||Bob Lanigan (185)|
|Top try-scorer(s)||Ken Irvine (13)|
1966's New South Wales Rugby Football League premiership was the 59th season of the rugby league competition based in Sydney. Ten clubs from across the city competed for the J J Giltinan Shield and the WD & HO Wills Cup during the season, which culminated in a replay of the 1964 grand final between St. George and Balmain.
1966 was the last season played under the unlimited tackle rule. Balmain, with their talented raw rookie recruit Arthur Beetson, appeared to be about to topple the Dragons from their long-held perch when the Tigers won eleven consecutive regular season games. However a late season slump saw them pegged back to the rest of the field and an eventual second place on the minor-premiership ladder behind the Dragons, who were being led by new captain-coach Ian Walsh.
Eastern Suburbs did not win a single match in 1966, continuing a losing streak that started in round 14, 1965 and which would run till round 2, 1967. This marked the second-most consecutive losses in NSWRFL premiership history at 25 behind University’s 42 in the mid-1930s. Their winless streak ran a total of 29 games between their 11–9 win over Canterbury in Round 12, 1965 and beating North Sydney 17–11 in Round 6 of 1967
Ground: Leichhardt Oval
Coach: Harry Bath
Captain: Keith Barnes
Ground: Belmore Sports Ground
Captain-coach: Roger Pearman→George Taylforth
Ground: Sydney Sports Ground
Coach: Bert Holcroft
Captains: Ron Saddler / Ken Ashcroft
Ground: Brookvale Oval
Coach: Wally O'Connell
Captains: Frank Stanton / Ken Day
Ground: Henson Park
Coach: Dick Poole
Captain: Paul Quinn
Ground: North Sydney Oval
Coach: Fred Griffiths
Captain: Billy Wilson
Ground: Cumberland Oval
Captain-coach: Ken Thornett
Ground: Redfern Oval
Coach: Bernie Purcell
Captain(s): Jim Lisle / Bob Moses
Ground: Jubilee Oval
Captain-coach: Ian Walsh
Ground: Pratten Park
Captain-Coach: Noel Kelly
|Date and Time||Venue||Referee||Crowd|
|Newtown||20-5||Western Suburbs||23 August 1966||Sydney Sports Ground||W.Kelly||10,724|
|Manly-Warringah||10-9||Newtown||27 August 1966||Sydney Cricket Ground||Col Pearce||31,803|
|St. George||10-2||Balmain||3 September 1966||Sydney Cricket Ground||Col Pearce||46,531|
|Balmain||8-5||Manly-Warringah||10 September 1966||Sydney Cricket Ground||Col Pearce||39,461|
|St. George||23-4||Balmain||18 September 1966||Sydney Cricket Ground||Col Pearce||61,129|
|Graeme Langlands||FB||Keith Barnes (c)|
|Johnny King||WG||Paul Cross|
|Bruce Pollard||CE||Kevin Yow Yeh|
|Ken Maddison||CE||Laurie Moraschi|
|Eddie Lumsden||WG||Bob Mara|
|Brian Clay||FE||Peter Jones|
|Billy Smith||HB||Dave Bolton|
|Robin Gourley||PR||Bobby Sullivan|
|Ian Walsh (Ca./Co.)||HK||Bob Boland|
|Kevin Ryan||PR||Gary Leo|
|Elton Rasmussen||SR||Denis Tutty|
|Dick Huddart||SR||Arthur Beetson|
|Johnny Raper||LK||Peter Provan|
|Trevor Levin||Reserve||Sid Williams|
Balmain had beaten St. George twice in the regular season and in their coach Harry Bath, who had helped design the Dragons premiership winning formula, had a tactician well placed to counter it. They had a number of young players in Beetson, Kevin Yow Yeh and Denis Tutty who could trouble the Dragons, plus the experience of Dave Bolton, Peter Provan and the unrivalled goal-kicking brilliance of Keith Barnes.
The opening skirmishes on the day of the decider were balanced. Balmain took an early lead when Barnes kicked a penalty goal. St. George's Billy Smith struck back when he set up a run around movement with Brian Clay, which led to a try to Bruce Pollard.
The turning point of the match came soon after when the Dragons' English import Dick Huddart and Ian Walsh put on a set move as the Tigers' defence rushed up too early. Walsh bust through the line and with only the fullback to beat and passed the ball to Huddart who raced 30 yards to score.
On the other side of half-time Billy Smith sliced through and found Johnny Raper who got to the Balmain 25-yard line before finding prop Kevin Ryan in support. It was a spectacular run from the evergreen forward who out-raced his pursuers and dived through the air to score and put the match beyond doubt.
Balmain had tried to slow down the Dragons with stifling tactics but this backfired and resulted in an unfavourable penalty count. Classy Dragons fullback Graeme Langlands capitalised on this, kicking seven goals.
Huddart was dominant for the clinical Saints who did not concede a try for a staggering seventh time in eight grand final victories. He had been niggled early in the game by the Balmain forwards and responded by running freely all match and crashing the Tigers with fiery tackles.
With the full-time siren St George had won their 11th successive Grand Final, setting a record that is unlikely to be ever broken in first grade rugby league or perhaps in any top-grade world team sport.
It was the last game played for the club by Dragons enforcer Kevin Ryan after seven Grand Final wins and also the farewell match for winger Eddie Lumsden who had appeared in nine of the victories.
St. George 23 (Tries: Pollard, Huddart, Ryan. Goals: Langlands 7.)
Balmain 4 ( Goals: Barnes 2.)
- Writer, Larry (1995) Never Before, Never Again, Pan MacMillan, Sydney
- Rugby League Tables - Season 1966 The World of Rugby League
- Results:1961-70 at rabbitohs.com.au
- 1966 J J Giltinan Shield and WD & HO Wills Cup at rleague.com[dead link]
- NSWRFL season 1966 at rugbyleagueproject.org
- St. George 1966 season at showroom.com.au