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The 1949 New South Wales Rugby Football League premiership was the forty-second season of Sydney’s top-level professional rugby league football club competition, Australia’s first. Ten teams from across the city contested the premiership during the season which culminated in a grand final between St. George and South Sydney.[2]

1949 New South Wales Rugby Football League
PremiersSt. George colours.svg St. George[1] (2nd title)
Minor premiersSouth Sydney colours.svg South Sydney (10th title)
Matches played94
Points scored2995
Top points scorer(s)Western Suburbs colours.svg Bill Keato (163)
Top try-scorer(s)St. George colours.svg Ron Roberts (25)

Season summaryEdit

St. George winger Ron Roberts’ 25 tries during 1949 stands in third place behind Les Brennan’s 29 in 1954 and Bob Lulham’s 28 in 1947 for the highest number of tries by a player in a debut season.

The 1949 season was also the last in the NSWRFL for future Australian Rugby League Hall of Fame inductee, Vic Hey.


42nd season
Ground: Leichhardt Oval
Coach: Athol Smith
Captain: Fred de Belin
15th season
Ground:Belmore Oval
Coach: Henry Porter
Captain: Bruce Hopkins
Eastern Suburbs
42nd season
Ground: Sydney Sports Ground
Coach: Ray Stehr
Captain: Paul Tierney
3rd season
Ground: Brookvale Oval
Coach: George Mullins
Captain: George Hunter
42nd season
Ground: Erskineville Oval
Captain-Coach: Frank Farrell
North Sydney
42nd season
Ground: North Sydney Oval
Coach: Harry McKinnon
Captain: Frank Cottle
3rd season
Ground: Cumberland Oval
Captain-Coach: Vic Hey
South Sydney
42nd season
Ground: Redfern Oval
Coach: Dave Watson & Jack Rayner
Captain: Jack Rayner
St. George
29th season
Ground: Hurstville Oval
Coach: Jim Duckworth
Captain: Johnny Hawke
Western Suburbs
42nd season
Ground: Pratten Park
Captain-Coach: Col Maxwell


Team Pld W D L PF PA PD Pts
1   South Sydney 18 13 1 4 360 210 +150 27
2   Western Suburbs 18 12 0 6 365 280 +85 24
3   St. George 18 11 1 6 345 231 +114 23
4   Balmain 18 10 2 6 265 206 +59 22
5   Parramatta 18 8 4 6 311 269 +42 20
6   Newtown 18 9 1 8 358 332 +26 19
7   Canterbury-Bankstown 18 6 2 10 236 337 −101 14
8   Manly-Warringah 18 6 1 11 171 293 −122 13
9   North Sydney 18 5 1 12 253 369 −116 11
10   Eastern Suburbs 18 3 1 14 214 351 −137 7


Minor premier South Sydney's loss to St. George in the finals meant that a grand final would be necessary.[3]

Home Score Away Match Information
Date and Time Venue Referee Crowd
Semi Finals
  South Sydney 12–16   St. George 20 August 1949 Sydney Cricket Ground Tom McMahon 41,696
  Western Suburbs 13–20   Balmain 27 August 1949 Sydney Cricket Ground George Bishop 38,209
Preliminary Final
  St. George 18–7   Balmain 3 September 1949 Sydney Cricket Ground Jack O'Brien 55,341
Grand Final
  South Sydney 12–19   St. George 10 September 1949 Sydney Cricket Ground George Bishop 56,534

Grand FinalEdit

South Sydney Position St George
Clive Churchill FB Doug Fleming
John Graves WG Ron Roberts
Norm Spillane CE Doug McRitchie
Ken Brogan CE Matt McCoy
Len Allmond WG Noel Pidding
Arthur Moynihan FE Johnny Hawke (capt)
Des Bryan HB Noel Hill
Denis Donoghue PR Jack Holland
Ernie Hammerton HK Frank Facer (v.capt)
Jack Melville PR Jack Munn
Bernie Purcell SR Carl Langton
Jack Rayner (Ca./Co.) SR Charles Banks
Les Cowie LK George Jardine
Coach Jim Duckworth

In a brutal encounter, St George ran in five tries and overcame minor premiers South Sydney 19–12[4] to claim their second premiership in front of 56,532 people, the second biggest crowd of all time to witness a Sydney club match.[5]

Souths opened the scoring, with a converted try to Graves after 21 minutes. However the Dragons were led masterfully by their captain, Kangaroos five-eighth, Norman “Johnny” Hawke. Controlling all aspects of the match, Hawke took the game away from Souths who only got back into the contest when he was forced from the field with injury. Also injured was Saints forward George Jardine who played the match with a broken wrist.

St. George led 11–5 at half time. Hawke returned to the field after treatment and was later dubbed “Man of the Match” and “the Player’s Player”. The Dragons’ wingers, season’s top try scorer Ron Roberts (25 tries) and newcomer Noel Pidding scored two tries each.

Each of the grand final winning players received a record bonus of £300 each.

St. George 19
Tries: Roberts (2), Pidding (2), McCoy
Goals: McCoy, Pidding

South Sydney 12
Tries: Graves, Purcell
Goals: Graves (3)


  1. ^ Premiership Roll of Honour Archived 28 April 2007 at the Wayback Machine at
  2. ^ "South plans counter to McRitchie". The Sydney Morning Herald. 6 September 1949. p. 7. Retrieved 20 November 2009.
  3. ^ Goodman, Tom (21 August 1949). "Munn and McRitchie lead 16–12 victory". The Sydney Morning Herald. Australia. p. 6. Retrieved 4 December 2009.
  4. ^ 1949 Grand Final at
  5. ^ Goodman, Tom (11 September 1949). "Hawke steers St. George to second Rugby League Premiership". The Sydney Morning Herald. Australia. p. 8. Retrieved 4 December 2009.

External linksEdit