1956 NSWRFL season

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1956 New South Wales Rugby Football League
Teams 10
Premiers St. George colours.svg St. George (3rd title)
Minor premiers St. George colours.svg St. George (3rd title)
Matches played 95
Points scored 3096
Top points scorer(s) St. George colours.svg Doug Fleming (189)
Top try-scorer(s) St. George colours.svg Tommy Ryan (19)

1956's New South Wales Rugby Football League premiership was the 49th season of the rugby league competition based in Sydney. Ten teams from across the city competed for the J. J. Giltinan Shield during the season, which culminated in a Grand Final between St. George and Balmain.

Season summary[edit]


Balmain home jersey 1940.svg
49th season
Ground: Leichhardt Oval
Coach: Norman Robinson
Captain: Brian Staunton
Canterbury home jersey 1935.svg

22nd season
Ground: Belmore Oval
Coach: Vic Hey
Captain: Col Geelan

Eastern Suburbs
49th season
Ground: Sydney Sports Ground
Coach: Frank O'Connor
Captain: Kevin Hansen
10th season
Ground: Brookvale Oval
Coach: Pat Devery
Captain: George Hunter
Newtown Jets home jersey 1908.svg
49th season
Ground: Henson Park
Captain-Coach: Dick Poole
North Sydney
North Sydney Bears home jersey 1951.svg
49th season
Ground: North Sydney Oval
Coach: Bruce Ryan
Captain: Trevor Allan
10th season
Ground: Cumberland Oval
Coach: Cec Fifield
Captain: Graham Laird
South Sydney
49th season
Ground: Redfern Oval
Coach: Jack Rayner
Captain: Les Cowie
St. George
36th season
Ground: Kogarah Oval
Coach: Norm Tipping
Captain: Ken Kearney
Western Suburbs
49th season
Ground: Pratten Park
Coach: Jack Walsh
Captain: Keith Holman


Team Pld W D L PF PA PD Pts
1 St. George colours.svg St. George 18 13 1 4 398 239 +159 27
2 Balmain colours.svg Balmain 18 13 0 5 293 241 +52 26
3 South Sydney colours.svg South Sydney 18 11 1 6 364 265 +99 23
4 Newtown colours.svg Newtown 18 11 0 7 333 229 +104 22
5 Western Suburbs colours.svg Western Suburbs 18 11 0 7 276 221 +55 22
6 Manly Sea Eagles colours.svg Manly 18 7 3 8 323 269 +54 17
7 Canterbury colours.svg Canterbury 18 6 0 12 235 352 -117 12
8 North Sydney colours.svg North Sydney 18 5 1 12 218 324 -106 11
9 Eastern Suburbs colours.svg Eastern Suburbs 18 5 1 12 211 354 -143 11
10 Parramatta colours.svg Parramatta 18 4 1 13 224 381 -157 9


Home Score Away Match Information
Date and Time Venue Referee Crowd
Newtown colours.svg Newtown 10-5 Western Suburbs colours.svg Western Suburbs 14 August 1956 Redfern Oval 20,920
Semi Finals
South Sydney colours.svg South Sydney 45-7 Western Suburbs colours.svg Western Suburbs 18 August 1956 Sydney Cricket Ground Col Pearce 51,775
St. George colours.svg St. George 30-25 Balmain colours.svg Balmain 25 August 1956 Sydney Cricket Ground Col Pearce 37,339
Preliminary Final
Balmain colours.svg Balmain 36-33 South Sydney colours.svg South Sydney 1 September 1956 Sydney Cricket Ground Darcy Lawler 42,350
Grand Final
St. George colours.svg St. George 18-12 Balmain colours.svg Balmain 8 September 1956 Sydney Cricket Ground Darcy Lawler 61,987

Grand Final[edit]

St George Position Balmain
Doug Fleming FB Keith Barnes
Ross Kite WG Arthur Lorimer
Merv Lees CE Geoff Hawkey
Kevin O'Brien CE Kevin Mosman
Tommy Ryan WG Terry McGovern
Peter Carroll FE Bill Harris
Bob Bugden HB Brian Staunton (c)
Kevin Brown PR Jack Moon
Ken Kearney (c) HK Neville Watt
Bryan Orrock PR Robert Heaney
Harry Melville SR Jack Moses
Norm Provan SR Ron Potter
Billy Wilson LK Gus Gray
Norm Tipping Coach Norman Robinson

Up and coming Balmain fullback Keith Barnes came into the game with confidence, having booted 17 goals in his previous two games. In the most recent of those contests, the Preliminary Final against South Sydney, Tigers half-back, playmaker and captain Brian Staunton had been flattened by a Clive Churchill stiffarm tackle and as a consequence was still out-of-sorts on grand final day.

St George centre Merv Lees cracked his collar bone in a tackle in the 13th minute and hardman prop Billy Wilson moved out from the pack to play in the centres in spite of being constrained himself with a knee ligament injury. Wilson tormented Hawkey and Mosman in both attack and defence and set up both his own wingers for a number of long dashes. He was later selected by his teammates as Man of the Match with Kevin Brown, Bob Bugden and Norm Provan also starring in the game.

The sides were evenly matched for the first 38 minutes before a backline move from a scrum saw Dragons winger Tommy Ryan draw Barnes and pass to prop Kevin Brown who had freed himself from the scrum to be present in support.

Tries to Bugden and Kevin O'Brien came quickly after the break with Harry Melville's final try for the Dragons 18 minutes into the second half putting the game out of the Tigers' reach. Staunton responded with his second try for Balmain late in the game.

Norm Tipping had coached the Dragons to an excellent season result of 15 wins, 4 losses and 1 draw but would be ousted regardless from the coaching job shortly after the grand final. He was the loser in a power struggle with Dragons on-field leader Ken Kearney who that year had captained Australia to a three Test whitewash of New Zealand, had captained New South Wales to state victory over Queensland, won the Sunday Telegraph's Player of the Year award and ultimately captained the Saints to a premiership. Kearney had lost the coaching role to Tipping at the end of the 1955 season. At the end of 1956 the St George committee chose to back Kearney's fine football brain and his advanced English-learned strategies on attack, defense and conditioning in choosing him as their captain-coach to go forward. In the process they laid the foundation for the Dragons' record-breaking premiership stranglehold.

St George 18 (Tries: O'Brien, Bugden, Brown, Melville. Goals: Fleming 3.)

Balmain 12 (Tries: Staunton 2. Goals: Barnes 3.)


External links[edit]