1955 NSWRFL season

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1955 New South Wales Rugby Football League
PremiersSouth Sydney colours.svg South Sydney (16th title)
Minor premiersNewtown colours.svg Newtown (6th title)
Matches played94
Points scored3253
Top points scorer(s)St. George colours.svg Doug Fleming (185)
Top try-scorer(s)Eastern Suburbs colours.svg Brian Allsop (18)
South Sydney colours.svg 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.[1]

Season summary[edit]

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.


Balmain home jersey 1940.svg
48th season
Ground: Leichhardt Oval
Coach: Norm "Latchem" Robinson
Captain: Bill Marsh
Canterbury home jersey 1935.svg
21st season
Ground: Belmore Sports Ground
Coach: Vic Hey
Captain: Ray Gartner
Eastern Suburbs
48th season
Ground: Sydney Sports Ground
Coach: Frank O'Connor
Captain: Noel Pidding
9th season
Ground: Brookvale Oval
Coach: Pat Devery
Captain: Roy Bull
Newtown Jets home jersey 1908.svg
48th season
Ground: Henson Park
Capt./Coach: Dick Poole
North Sydney Bears home jersey 1951.svg
North Sydney
48th season
Ground: North Sydney Oval
Coach: Rex Harrison
Captain: George Martin
9th season
Ground: Cumberland Oval
Captain-Coach: Johnny Slade
South Sydney
48th season
Ground: Redfern Oval
Capt./Coach: Jack Rayner
St. George
35th season
Ground: Kogarah Oval
Captain-Coach: Ken Kearney
Western Suburbs
48th season
Ground: Pratten Park
Captain-Coach: Keith Holman


Team Pld W D L PF PA PD Pts
1 Newtown colours.svg Newtown 18 14 1 3 376 179 +197 29
2 St. George colours.svg St. George 18 14 0 4 396 247 +149 28
3 Manly Sea Eagles colours.svg Manly-Warringah 18 11 1 6 332 245 +87 23
4 South Sydney colours.svg South Sydney 18 11 0 7 367 260 +107 22
5 North Sydney colours.svg North Sydney 18 10 0 8 345 278 +67 20
6 Eastern Suburbs colours.svg Eastern Suburbs 18 8 1 9 342 325 +17 17
7 Balmain colours.svg Balmain 18 8 1 9 384 381 +3 17
8 Parramatta colours.svg Parramatta 18 5 0 13 258 365 -107 10
9 Canterbury colours.svg Canterbury-Bankstown 18 4 0 14 167 414 -247 8
10 Western Suburbs colours.svg Western Suburbs 18 3 0 15 186 459 -273 6


Home Score Away Match Information
Date and Time Venue Referee Crowd
Semi Finals
Manly Sea Eagles colours.svg Manly-Warringah 12-14 South Sydney colours.svg South Sydney 27 August 1955 Sydney Cricket Ground Darcy Lawler 35,677
Newtown colours.svg Newtown 11-8 St. George colours.svg St. George 3 September 1955 Sydney Cricket Ground Darcy Lawler 34,158
Preliminary Final
St. George colours.svg St. George 14-18 South Sydney colours.svg South Sydney 10 September 1955 Sydney Cricket Ground Col Pearce 41,583
Grand Final
Newtown colours.svg Newtown 11-12 South Sydney colours.svg South Sydney 17 September 1955 Sydney Cricket Ground Col Pearce 42,466

Grand Final[edit]

South Sydney Position Newtown
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.[2]

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


  1. ^ Goodman, Tom. "Churchill decides not to play in R.L. Grand Final". The Sydney Morning Herald. p. 13. Retrieved 2009-11-20.[dead link]
  2. ^ Clarkson, Alan (1986-09-26). "The best Grand Finals I've seen". The Sydney Morning Herald. Fairfax Media. p. 77. Retrieved 2010-09-14.

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