1979 NSWRFL season
|1979 New South Wales Rugby Football League|
|Premiers||St. George (15th title)|
|Minor premiers||St. George (14th title)|
|Top points scorer(s)||Mick Cronin (253)|
|Player of the year||Ray Price (Rothmans Medal)|
|Top try-scorer(s)|| Mitch Brennan (16)|
Tom Mooney (16)
The 1979 NSWRFL season was the 72nd season of Sydney's professional rugby league football competition, Australia's first. Twelve New South Wales Rugby Football League clubs competed for the J J Giltinan Shield and WD & HO Wills Cup during the season, which culminated in a grand final between the St. George and Canterbury-Bankstown clubs. NSWRFL teams also competed in the 1979 Amco Cup.
Twenty-two regular season rounds were played from March till August, resulting in a top five of St. George, Parramatta, Cronulla-Sutherland, Western Suburbs and Canterbury-Bankstown who battled it out in the finals.
|Date and Time||Venue||Referee||Crowd|
|Minor Semi Finals|
|Parramatta||24-4||Cronulla-Sutherland||1 September 1979||Sydney Cricket Ground||Gary Cook||28,335|
|Western Suburbs||6-20||Canterbury-Bankstown||2 September 1979||Sydney Cricket Ground||Greg Hartley||22,104|
|Major Semi Finals|
|St. George||15-11||Parramatta||8 September 1979||Sydney Cricket Ground||Gary Cook||38,531|
|Cronulla-Sutherland||15-30||Canterbury-Bankstown||9 September 1979||Sydney Cricket Ground||Greg Hartley||24,132|
|Parramatta||14-20||Canterbury-Bankstown||15 September 1979||Sydney Cricket Ground||Greg Hartley||33,291|
|St. George||17-13||Canterbury-Bankstown||22 September 1979||Sydney Cricket Ground||Greg Hartley||50,911|
|Brian Johnson||FB||Stan Cutler|
|Mitch Brennan||WG||Chris Anderson|
|Graeme Quinn||CE||Chris Mortimer|
|Robert Finch||CE||Peter Mortimer|
|Michael Sorridimi||WG||Steve Gearin|
|Tony Trudgett||FE||Garry Hughes|
|Steve Morris||HB||Steve Mortimer|
|Bruce Starkey||PR||Greg Cook|
|Steve Edge||HK||George Peponis (c)|
|Craig Young (c)||PR||Peter Smith|
|George Grant||SR||Graeme Hughes|
|Graeme Wynn||SR||Peter Cassilles|
|Rod Reddy||LK||Steve Folkes|
|Stephen Butler||Res.||Mark Hughes|
|Harry Bath||Coach||Ted Glossop|
St. George finished 22 rounds as minor premiers with 17 wins and were straight into the Grand Final after defeating Parramatta in the major semi. Their Grand Final opponents Canterbury, qualified after defeating Wests, Cronulla and Parramatta.
The pre-game talk had been about the match-up of opposing half-backs Steve Morris and Steve Mortimer and the game didn't disappoint, beginning with a 40-metre flying break on a last tackle by Morris from deep in Dragons territory before he was cut down in a classic covering tackle by Mortimer.
The first half belonged to St. George with new fullback Brian Johnson scoring an easy opening try after taking a pass 10 metres out from the Canterbury line. Soon after, Rod Reddy, who was subduing his opponents with his experience and ruthlessness, put Morris into a gap. 'Slippery' kicked ahead and the race was on. Mortimer had a head start and got there first but Morris tackled him into touch.
Soon afterwards Canterbury put a bomb up and toward the St. George in-goal. Brian Johnson was on hand to field the ball and returned it with a 60-metre run ended by a copybook tackle from his opposing fullback Stan Cutler. However the defence was opening up and it wasn't long before the Dragons scored their second try, with winger Mitch Brennan venturing infield and finding a gap courtesy of centre Robert Finch who slipped a short ball to Brennan 30 metres out. The strapping winger made a powerful run to score.
By now, Saints were carving Canterbury up with Morris, on his 20-metre line, putting Graeme Wynn into a gap. The lanky back rower ran 40 metres, leaving defenders in his wake. Next it was 'Rocket' Reddy's turn when Morris, Wynn and Reddy combined down the right flank and exposed the Bulldogs defence. 'Rocket' handled twice in scoring a try under the posts. At half time the score was St George 17 - Canterbury 2.
Canterbury fought back gamely after the break. Steve Gearin and then Peter Mortimer crossed, with two further tries being disallowed. The St. George defence rallied and held from that point until Stan Cutler scored a third try out wide late in the match. St. George's goal-kicking second rower George Grant was the difference on the day, kicking four to ensure a 17-13 victory. Grant had kicked brilliantly all season, scoring 211 points in 1979.
The Dave Brown Medal for the best player on field went to Steve Morris.
St. George 17 (Tries: Johnson, Brennan, Reddy. Goals: Grant 4.)
Canterbury-Bankstown 13 (Tries: Gearin, Mortimer, Cutler. Goals: Gearin 2.)