The 1947 New South Wales Rugby Football League premiership was the fortieth season of Sydney’s top-level rugby league competition, Australia’s first. For the first time, the number of clubs in the league reached double digits due to the admission of Manly-Warringah and Parramatta to the first grade competition. The season culminated in a grand final between the Balmain and Canterbury-Bankstown clubs.
|1947 New South Wales Rugby Football League|
|Premiers||Balmain (10th title)|
|Minor premiers||Canterbury (3rd title)|
|Top points scorer(s)||Pat Devery (142)|
|Top try-scorer(s)||Bob Lulham (28)|
Midway through the season the Balmain club looked out of touch winning only six of their first twelve games. Five consecutive wins to end the regular season left them in position to make a finals assault. Balmain’s Bob Lulham set a new record for the highest number of tries by a player in a debut season with a tally of 28 tries in eighteen matches. This remains that club’s record for tries in a season.
The addition of two teams, Manly-Warringah and Parramatta, saw ten teams from across the city contest during the 1947 premiership, the first expansion of the League since Canterbury-Bankstown’s introduction in 1935. Manly had been competing for a number of years in the NSWRFL's President's Cup (3rd grade) competition and had been assured by the league of first grade status should they win the Presidents Cup, which they finally did in 1946. After Cumberland’s demise from the league, pressure began to build in the area for another team in the NSWRFL in the 1930s, though this died down during World War II and a Parramatta district club was not proposed again until 1946 when the club was successfully admitted into the Premiership.
- Balmain, formed on January 23, 1908, at Balmain Town Hall
- Canterbury-Bankstown, formed on September 25, 1934
- Eastern Suburbs, formed on January 24, 1908, at Paddington Town Hall
- Manly-Warringah admitted in 1947
- Newtown, formed on January 14, 1908
- North Sydney, formed on February 7, 1908
- Parramatta, formed in November 1946
- South Sydney, formed on January 17, 1908, at Redfern Town Hall
- St. George, formed on November 8, 1920, at Kogarah School of Arts
- Western Suburbs, formed on February 4, 1908
|North Sydney||Parramatta||South Sydney||St. George||Western Suburbs|
|Date and Time||Venue||Referee||Crowd|
|St. George||5–10||Western Suburbs||27 August 1947||Sydney Sports Ground||13,552|
|Canterbury||25–15||Newtown||30 August 1947||Sydney Cricket Ground||George Bishop||36,303|
|Balmain||27–16||Western Suburbs||6 September 1947||Sydney Sports Ground||Tom McMahon||29,375|
|Canterbury||19–25||Balmain||13 September 1947||Sydney Sports Ground||Jack O'Brien||34,994|
|Canterbury||9–13||Balmain||20 September 1947||Sydney Sports Ground||Jack O'Brien||29,292|
|Dick Johnson||FB||Jack McCullough|
|Jeff Simmonds||WG||Robert Lulham|
|Eddie Tracey||CE||Pat Devery|
|Norm Young||CE||Joe Jorgenson|
|Morrie Murphy||WG||Arthur Patton|
|Roy Hasson||FE||George Williams|
|Bruce Hopkins||HB||Des Bryan|
|Eddie Burns||PR||John Brannigan|
|Roy Kirkaldy||HK||Herb Gilbert Jnr|
|Henry Porter (c)||PR||Jack Spencer|
|Alister Clarke||SR||Sid Ryan|
|Ken Charlton||SR||Harry Bath|
|Len Holmes||LK||Tom Bourke (c)|
|Ross McKinnon||Coach||Norm Robinson|
The Tigers had strung together seven consecutive wins including a preliminary final victory over minor premiers Canterbury in their attempt at a second straight premiership. Canterbury exercised their “right of challenge” after losing the final and called for a Grand Final decider.
The formidable Canterbury front row of Eddie Burns, Roy Kirkaldy and Henry Porter were combining in their tenth season for over one hundred and fifty appearances as a scrum front trio. They led a punishing Berries defence and gave their side a better-than-even chance of possession in the scrum contests.
Balmain’s star international centre and Kangaroo captain Joe Jorgenson had played and coached on a country contract in Junee in 1947 but returned to the Tigers reserve-grade in time for the semifinals. The Grand Final marked his sole first-grade appearance of the season. Balmain’s Test five-eighth Pat Devery was the nominated match kicker but after several misses he passed over to Jorgenson who kicked three penalties to keep Balmain in the game and trailing 9–6 with ten minutes to go.
Then Jorgenson crashed over for a try under the posts and after receiving medical attention he converted his own goal to give the Tigers an 11–9 lead. A final 45-yard penalty goal then sealed the match for the Tigers at 13–9 with Jorgenson scoring all of Balmain’s points and being chaired victorious from the field.
Balmain 13 (Tries: Jorgenson. Goals: Jorgenson 5 )
Canterbury-Bankstown 9 (Tries: Hasson. Goals: Johnson 2, Hasson)
The following statistics are as of the conclusion of Round 18.
Top 5 point scorers
Top 5 try scorers
Top 5 goal scorers
- Premiership Roll of Honour Archived April 28, 2007, at the Wayback Machine at rl1908.com
- "Canterbury wants Kilham back". The Sydney Morning Herald. Australia. 1947-09-15. p. 8. Retrieved 2009-11-20.
- Fagan, Sean. "Parramatta Eels". RL1908. Archived from the original on 29 September 2007. Retrieved 18 September 2007.
- "History of the Premiership". centenaryofrugbyleague.com.au. Australian Rugby League. Archived from the original on 9 February 2008. Retrieved 21 October 2013.
- 1947 Grand Final Archived 2011-03-06 at the Wayback Machine at nrlstats.com
- Rugby League Tables - Notes AFL Tables
- Rugby League Tables - Season 1947 AFL Tables
- Premiership History and Statistics RL1908
- Finals lineups and results Hunterlink site
- Balmain Official History Tigers History Site
- Whiticker, Alan(2004) Captaining the Kangaroos, New Holland, Sydney
- Results:1941-1950 at rabbitohs.com.au
- 1947 Labor Daily Cup[dead link] at rleague.com
- 1947 NSWRFL season[permanent dead link] at rugbyleagueproject.org