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1951 NSWRFL season

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Top points scorer(s)  Ron Rowles (220)
Start date  1951
Points scored  3,400
People also search for  1955 NSWRFL season
Top try-scorer(s)  Johnny Graves (28)
Teams  10
Matches played  94
1951 NSWRFL season
Premiers  South Sydney (13th title)
Minor premiers  South Sydney (12th title)

The 1951 New South Wales Rugby Football League premiership was the forty-fourth season of Sydney’s top-level rugby league competition, Australia’s first. Ten teams from across the city competed for the newly created J. J. Giltinan Shield during the season which culminated in a grand final between South Sydney and Manly-Warringah.


Season summary

South Sydney ascended to the minor premiership with relative ease in 1951, losing only one match during the season to finish the regular season ahead by a record eleven-point margin.


Odds-on favourites to retain the premiership, Souths reserved their worst performance of the year for the semi-final against St George being trounced 35-8. This loss meant that a grand final would be necessary to determine the season's premiers. The next week, the Dragons were beaten by a gutsy Manly side in a preliminary final, 18–8. The infant Manly club thus qualified for its first grand final only five seasons after having entered the League in 1947.

Grand Final

Manly were without former Test star and captain-coach Wally O'Connell who had a fractured bone in his wrist. The Seagulls were instead captained by hooker Kevin Schubert. Gordon Willoughby played out the match with his leg heavily strapped rather than leave his side further depleted but Manly’s hopes of upsetting the defending premiers were shattered in a spectacular display of attacking rugby league by Souths.

The smallest crowd for a final since 1944 was on hand at the Sports Ground to witness a one-sided game which Souths won 42–14. A highlight of the record win was Test winger John Graves’ four tries in the match – the only time this has been achieved in grand final history.

Souths scored first through Bernie Purcell and led 15–4 at the break. They then piled on twenty-seven points in the second-half. Tries to Clive Churchill, Ray Mason, Jack Rayner and Chick Cowie added to Graves' record haul. The Rabbitohs pack dominated Manly’s forwards with Ernie Hammerton giving his team a feast of possession. Bernie Purcell landed seven goals from nine attempts and was also dynamic in attack, being chosen by The Sunday Herald judge, Frank McMillan as the man-of-the-match, for which he received a £10 reward.

Other records set that day include the most points ever scored in a grand final (66 total); the most tries scored by one team in a grand final (8), a mark later matched by Eastern Suburbs in 1975 Grand Final and the most goals scored in grand final (9).

South Sydney Rabbitohs 42
Tries: Graves (4), Churchill, Mason, Rayner, Cowie
Goals: Purcell (7), Hammerton, Donoghue.

Manly-Warringah Sea Eagles 14
Tries: Lumsden (2)
Goals: Rowles (4)


1951 NSWRFL season Wikipedia

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