1956 NSWRFL season
|1956 New South Wales Rugby Football League|
|Premiers||St. George (3rd title)|
|Minor premiers||St. George (3rd title)|
|Top points scorer(s)||Doug Fleming (189)|
|Top try-scorer(s)||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.
Ground: Leichhardt Oval
Coach: Norman Robinson
Captain: Brian Staunton
Ground: Sydney Sports Ground
Coach: Frank O'Connor
Captain: Kevin Hansen
Ground: Brookvale Oval
Coach: Pat Devery
Captain: George Hunter
Ground: Henson Park
Captain-Coach: Dick Poole
Ground: North Sydney Oval
Coach: Bruce Ryan
Captain: Trevor Allan
Ground: Cumberland Oval
Coach: Cec Fifield
Captain: Graham Laird
Ground: Redfern Oval
Coach: Jack Rayner
Captain: Les Cowie
Ground: Kogarah Oval
Coach: Norm Tipping
Captain: Ken Kearney
Ground: Pratten Park
Coach: Jack Walsh
Captain: Keith Holman
|Date and Time||Venue||Referee||Crowd|
|Newtown||10-5||Western Suburbs||14 August 1956||Redfern Oval||20,920|
|South Sydney||45-7||Western Suburbs||18 August 1956||Sydney Cricket Ground||Col Pearce||51,775|
|St. George||30-25||Balmain||25 August 1956||Sydney Cricket Ground||Col Pearce||37,339|
|Balmain||36-33||South Sydney||1 September 1956||Sydney Cricket Ground||Darcy Lawler||42,350|
|St. George||18-12||Balmain||8 September 1956||Sydney Cricket Ground||Darcy Lawler||61,987|
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.)