1978 NSWRFL season

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1978 New South Wales Rugby Football League
DurationMarch 25 – September 19, 1978
PremiersManly Sea Eagles colours.svg Manly-Warringah (4th title)
Minor premiersWestern Suburbs colours.svg Western Suburbs (5th title)
Matches played140
Points scored4375
Top points scorer(s)Parramatta colours.svg Mick Cronin (282)
Player of the yearParramatta colours.svg Mick Cronin (Rothmans Medal)
Top try-scorer(s)Balmain colours.svg Larry Corowa (24)

The 1978 NSWRFL season was the 71st season of the NSWRFL Premiership, Sydney's professional rugby league football competition, and Australia's first. Twelve clubs, including six of 1908's foundation teams and another six from around Sydney competed for the J J Giltinan Shield and WD & HO Wills Cup during the season, which culminated in a grand final between the Manly-Warringah and Cronulla-Sutherland clubs that was drawn and had to be re-played. NSWRFL teams also competed for the 1978 Amco Cup.

Season summary[edit]

This season video citing was introduced for incidents of foul play that are not detected on the field.[1] Twenty-two regular season rounds were played from March till August, resulting in a top five of Western Suburbs, Cronulla-Sutherland, Manly-Warringah, Parramatta and Canterbury-Bankstown who battled it out in the finals.

Mick Cronin set a new record for most points scored by an individual in Australian club rugby league history with his tally of 282 points from 25 games in 1978. This record would stand for another twenty years. He also broke Arthur Oxford's 1920 record for consecutive goals with 26 in a row.

In a tragic accident during the match between Penrith and Newtown at Henson Park on 28 May, rookie Panther prop John Farragher broke his neck in a scrum and was left a quadriplegic.[2]

The 1978 season's Rothmans Medallist was Parramatta centre Mick Cronin. Rugby League Week gave their player of the year award to Parramatta forward Geoff Gerard.

The 1978 season was also the last in the playing career of future Australian Rugby League Hall of Fame inductee, Ron Coote.


Balmain Tigers
71st season
Ground: Leichhardt Oval
Coach: Ron Willey
Captain: Trevor Ryan
Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs
Canterbury home jersey 1966.svg
44th season
Ground: Belmore Sports Ground
Coach: Ted Glossop
Captain: George Peponis
Cronulla-Sutherland Sharks
12th season
Ground: Endeavour Field
Coach: Norm Provan
Captain: Greg Pierce
Eastern Suburbs Roosters
71st season
Ground: Sydney Sports Ground
Captain-Coach: Arthur Beetson
Manly-Warringah Sea Eagles
32nd season
Ground: Brookvale Oval
Coach: Frank Stanton
Captain: Max Krilich
Newtown Jets
Newtown Jets home jersey 1972.svg
71st season
Ground: Henson Park
Coach: John Raper
Captain: Col Casey
North Sydney Bears
North Sydney Bears home jersey 1951.svg
71st season
Ground: North Sydney Oval
Captain-Coach: Bill Hamilton
Parramatta Eels
32nd season
Ground: Cumberland Oval
Coach: Terry Fearnley
Captain: Ray Price
Penrith Panthers
12th season
Ground: Penrith Park
Coach: Don Parish
Captain: Ken Wilson
South Sydney Rabbitohs
71st season
Ground: Redfern Oval
Coach: Jack Gibson
Captain: Paul SaitDarrel Bampton
St. George Dragons
58th season
Ground: Kogarah Oval
Coach: Harry Bath
Captain: Steve Edge
Western Suburbs Magpies
71st season
Ground: Lidcombe Oval
Coach: Roy Masters
Captain: Tom Raudonikis


Team Pld W D L PF PA PD Pts
1 Western Suburbs colours.svg Western Suburbs 22 16 1 5 426 288 +138 33
2 Cronulla colours.svg Cronulla-Sutherland 22 15 0 7 418 261 +157 30
3 Manly Sea Eagles colours.svg Manly-Warringah 22 15 0 7 427 287 +140 30
4 Parramatta colours.svg Parramatta 22 14 0 8 525 306 +219 28
5 Canterbury colours.svg Canterbury-Bankstown 22 13 2 7 307 273 +34 28
6 Eastern Suburbs colours.svg Eastern Suburbs 22 13 0 9 377 280 +57 26
7 South Sydney colours.svg South Sydney 22 12 1 9 298 300 -2 25
8 St. George colours.svg St. George 22 10 1 11 367 354 +13 21
9 Balmain colours.svg Balmain 22 9 1 12 337 344 -7 19
10 Penrith colours.svg Penrith 22 4 2 16 206 463 -257 10
11 North Sydney colours.svg North Sydney 22 4 1 17 325 439 -114 9
12 Newtown colours.svg Newtown Jets 22 2 1 19 199 577 -378 5


Manly had finished the regular season in the relatively strong position of equal second with Cronulla, three points behind minor premiers Wests. However after Cronulla beat Manly 17-12 in the qualifying final, every game from that point was a sudden-death fixture for the Sea-Eagles.

The second week of finals saw Manly come from 13-3 behind Parramatta to draw 13-all in the semi-final requiring a mid-week replay. Again in that match Parramatta led (11-2 this time), before Manly stormed home with three late tries in ten minutes to win 17-11. In the week following the game, Parramatta unsuccessfully attempted to have the match annulled and replayed due to Manly scoring a try on what was found to be a 7th tackle, a mistake by referee Greg Hartley.

Manly then had to back up a few days later to play a fresh Wests side in the Preliminary Final. Thus far the Magpies had only played one final to Manly's three. Wests had two tries disallowed by referee Greg Hartley. Manly coach Frank Stanton somehow coaxed a courageous effort out of his exhausted players and on field, five-eighth Alan Thompson was inspirational as they triumphed 14-7 and reached the Grand Final.

Home Score Away Match Information
Date and Time Venue Referee Crowd
Qualifying Finals
Cronulla colours.svg Cronulla-Sutherland 17-12 Manly Sea Eagles colours.svg Manly-Warringah 26 August 1978 Sydney Cricket Ground Jack Danzey 17,718
Parramatta colours.svg Parramatta 22-15 Canterbury colours.svg Canterbury-Bankstown 27 August 1978 Sydney Cricket Ground Greg Hartley 24,967
Semi Finals
Western Suburbs colours.svg Western Suburbs 10-14 Cronulla colours.svg Cronulla-Sutherland 2 September 1978 Sydney Cricket Ground Jack Danzey 22,789
Manly Sea Eagles colours.svg Manly-Warringah 13-13 Parramatta colours.svg Parramatta 3 September 1978 Sydney Cricket Ground Greg Hartley 30,850
Manly Sea Eagles colours.svg Manly-Warringah 17-11 Parramatta colours.svg Parramatta 6 September 1978 Sydney Cricket Ground Greg Hartley 42,678
Preliminary Final
Western Suburbs colours.svg Western Suburbs 7-14 Manly Sea Eagles colours.svg Manly-Warringah 9 September 1978 Sydney Cricket Ground Greg Hartley 27,345
Grand Final
Cronulla colours.svg Cronulla-Sutherland 11-11 Manly Sea Eagles colours.svg Manly-Warringah 16 September 1978 Sydney Cricket Ground Greg Hartley 51,510
Grand Final re-play
Cronulla colours.svg Cronulla-Sutherland 0-16 Manly Sea Eagles colours.svg Manly-Warringah 19 September 1978 Sydney Cricket Ground Greg Hartley 33,552

Grand Final[edit]

Manly-Warringah Position Cronulla Sutherland
Graham Eadie FB Mick Mullane
Tom Mooney WG Rick Bourke
Russel Gartner CE Steve Rogers (c)
Stephen Knight CE Dave Chamberlin
Simon Booth WG Steve Edmonds
Alan Thompson FE Barry Andrews
Steve Martin HB Steve Hansard
Ian Thomson PR Paul Khan
Max Krilich (c) HK John McMartin
John Harvey PR Gary Stares
Bruce Walker SR Steve Kneen
Terry Randall SR Eric Archer
Ian Martin LK John Glossop
Reserve Rowland Beckett
Frank Stanton Coach Norm Provan

In the Grand Final, Cronulla went to a 9-4 lead in the second half before Manly came back to hit the front 11-9. A Steve Rogers penalty squared it at 11-all but he then missed a desperate late field-goal attempt and at full-time the scores remained locked. For the second consecutive season the weary Grand Finalists were required to play a mid-week rematch three days later (the NSWRFL were forced to play the replay on the Tuesday and not the following weekend due to the upcoming 1978 Kangaroo tour, with the Australian team due to leave that weekend for their tour. The drawn GF also forced the Australian Rugby League to hold off on naming the touring squad until after the GF replay with as many as 12 players from Manly and Cronulla in contention to be selected).

Manly 11 (Tries: Mooney. Goals: Eadie 4.)

Cronulla 11 (Tries: Edmonds. Goals: Rogers 4.)

Grand Final Replay[edit]

Manly-Warringah Position Cronulla Sutherland
Graham Eadie FB Rick Bourke
Tom Mooney WG Chris Gardner
Stephen Knight CE Steve Rogers (c)
Russel Gartner CE Dave Chamberlin
Simon Booth WG Steve Edmonds
Alan Thompson FE Martin Raftery
Steve Martin HB Steve Hansard
Ian Thomson PR Paul Khan
Max Krilich (c) HK Rowland Beckett
John Harvey PR Peter Ryan
Bruce Walker SR Steve Kneen
Terry Randall SR Eric Archer
Ian Martin LK John Glossop
Ray Branighan Reserve
Wayne Springall Reserve
Frank Stanton Coach Norm Provan

The Tuesday rematch in front of 33,552 was Manly's sixth game in twenty-four days. It was the second Grand Final in a row to end up going into a mid-week replay with the 1977 Grand Final between St George and Parramatta also needing a re-match to decide the Premiers after the original game had been a 9-all draw.

In the first half Cronulla had no answer to Graham Eadie's blind-side bursts. His display completely routed the hapless Sharks and Manly went to the break holding a 15-0 lead thanks to a try by Eadie in the scoreboard corner, one he set up for centre Russel Gartner in the same corner, and another 65 metre effort by Gartner after a sweeping backline movement saw him run into open space and easily outpace the Sharks defence to score in front of the Sheridan Stand.

The only points in the second half came from a field goal by Eadie.

In the replay, as throughout their extraordinary finals campaign, Manly were inspired by the leadership of captain Max Krilich and coach Frank Stanton, their iron-man Terry Randall who had required numerous pain killing injections before every game of the finals just to be able take the field in what Frank Stanton called sheer mind over matter, their cool five eighth Alan Thompson and classy fullback and Man of the Match Graham Eadie.

As of the 2015 NRL Grand Final, no player since Eadie has scored the combination of a try, a goal and a field-goal in a Grand Final.

The refereeing of Greg "Hollywood" Hartley in the replay and throughout the 1978 Finals series attracted criticism from coaches Roy Masters, Jack Gibson and Terry Fearnley, all of whom appealed to the NSWRFL to prohibit Hartley from refereeing their clubs' matches the following season.[3]

Manly-Warringah 16 (Tries: Gartner 2, Eadie. Goals: Eadie 3. Field Goal: Eadie.)

Cronulla-Sutherland 0

Man of the Match: Graham Eadie
Venue: Sydney Cricket Ground
Attendance: 33,552
Referee: Greg Hartley


  1. ^ Middleton, David (2008). League of Legends: 100 Years of Rugby League in Australia (PDF). National Museum of Australia. p. 31. ISBN 978-1-876944-64-3. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2010-01-12. Cite uses deprecated parameter |deadurl= (help)
  2. ^ Lester, Gary and Pritchard, Greg; Bound for Glory: The Story of the Penrith Panthers; pp. 101-103 ISBN 9780949853486
  3. ^ Coady, Ben (2009-09-28). "Grand final dramas". WA Today. Australia: Fairfax Digital. Retrieved 2010-01-15.

External links[edit]