1947 NSWRFL season

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.[2]

1947 New South Wales Rugby Football League
PremiersBalmain colours.svg Balmain[1] (10th title)
Minor premiersCanterbury colours.svg Canterbury (3rd title)
Matches played95
Points scored3238
Top points scorer(s)Balmain colours.svg Pat Devery (142)
Top try-scorer(s)Balmain colours.svg Bob Lulham (28)

Season summaryEdit

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.[3][4]


40th season
Ground(s): Leichhardt Oval, Sydney Sports Ground
Coach: Norm Robinson
Captain: Tom Bourke


13th season
Ground(s): Belmore Oval,
Sydney Showground, Sydney Sports Ground
Coach: Ross McKinnon
Captain: Henry Porter

Eastern Suburbs

40th season
Ground(s): Pratten Park, Sydney Sports Ground
Coach: Arthur Halloway
Captain: Sel Lisle


1st season
Ground(s): Brookvale Oval
Coach: Harold Johnson & Ray Stehr
Captain: Max Whitehead


40th season
Ground(s): Erskineville Oval
Captain-coach: Frank Farrell

North Sydney

40th season
Ground(s): North Sydney Oval, Sydney Showground
Coach: Cliff Pearce
Captain: Tom Kirk


1st season
Ground(s): Cumberland Oval
Coach: Frank McMillan
Captain: Bob Andrews

South Sydney

40th season
Ground(s): Pratten Park, Sydney Sports Ground
Coach: Dave Watson
Captain: Jack Rayner

St. George

27th season
Ground(s): Hurstville Oval
Coach: Arthur Justice, Charlie Lynch (from May)
Captain: Doug McRitchie

Western Suburbs

40th season
Ground(s): Pratten Park, Sydney Sports Ground
Coach: Frank Burge
Captain: Eric Bennett


Team Pld W D L PF PA PD Pts
1   Canterbury-Bankstown 18 13 1 4 366 272 +94 27
2   Balmain 18 12 0 6 342 265 +77 24
3   Newtown 18 11 1 6 375 302 +73 23
4   St. George 18 11 0 7 353 272 +81 22
5   Western Suburbs 18 11 0 7 295 253 +42 22
6   North Sydney 18 9 1 8 287 278 +9 19
7   South Sydney 18 9 0 9 314 328 -14 18
8   Eastern Suburbs 18 5 1 12 270 316 -46 11
9   Manly-Warringah 18 4 0 14 242 364 -122 8
10   Parramatta 18 3 0 15 230 424 -194 6


Home Score Away Match Information
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
Grand Final
  Canterbury 9–13   Balmain 20 September 1947[5] Sydney Sports Ground Jack O'Brien 29,292

Grand finalEdit

Canterbury-Bankstown Position Balmain
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)

Player statisticsEdit

The following statistics are as of the conclusion of Round 18.


  1. ^ Premiership Roll of Honour Archived April 28, 2007, at the Wayback Machine at rl1908.com
  2. ^ "Canterbury wants Kilham back". The Sydney Morning Herald. Australia. 1947-09-15. p. 8. Retrieved 2009-11-20.
  3. ^ Fagan, Sean. "Parramatta Eels". RL1908. Archived from the original on 29 September 2007. Retrieved 18 September 2007.
  4. ^ "History of the Premiership". centenaryofrugbyleague.com.au. Australian Rugby League. Archived from the original on 9 February 2008. Retrieved 21 October 2013.
  5. ^ 1947 Grand Final Archived 2011-03-06 at the Wayback Machine at nrlstats.com

External linksEdit