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The 1952 New South Wales Rugby Football League premiership was the forty-fifth season of the rugby league competition based in Sydney. Ten teams from across Sydney contested for the J. J. Giltinan Shield during the season which culminated in a grand final between Western Suburbs and South Sydney.

1952 New South Wales Rugby Football League
PremiersWestern Suburbs colours.svg Western Suburbs (4th title)
Minor premiersWestern Suburbs colours.svg Western Suburbs (3rd title)
Matches played95
Points scored3217
Top points scorer(s)Manly Sea Eagles colours.svg Ron Rowles (178)
Top try-scorer(s)North Sydney colours.svg Peter O'Brien (20)


The tail-end of the season was played without star players selected to go on the Australian national team’s 1952-53 Kangaroo Tour.

45th season
Ground: Leichhardt Oval
Coach: Arthur Patton
Captain: Stan Ponchard
18th season
Ground: Belmore Oval
Coach: Alby Why
Captain: Ken Charlton
Eastern Suburbs
45th season
Ground: Sydney Sports Ground
Coach: Ernie Norman
Captain: Ferris Ashton
6th season
Ground: Brookvale Oval
Captain-Coach: Wally O'Connell
45th season
Ground: Erskineville Oval
Coach: Frank Johnson
Captain: Gordon Clifford
North Sydney
45th season
Ground: North Sydney Oval
Coach: Ross McKinnon
Captain: Bob Sullivan
6th season
Ground: Cumberland Oval
Coach: Vic Hey
Captain: Ian Johnston
South Sydney
45th season
Ground: Redfern Oval
Captain-Coach: Jack Rayner
St. George
32nd season
Ground: Jubilee Oval
Captain-coach: Johnny Hawke
Western Suburbs
45th season
Ground: Pratten Park
Coach: Tom McMahon
Captain: Peter McLean


Team Pld W D L PF PA PD Pts
1   Western Suburbs 18 14 1 3 331 264 +67 29
2   St. George 18 13 0 5 375 279 +96 26
3   South Sydney 18 12 0 6 344 189 +155 24
4   North Sydney 18 11 0 7 384 247 +137 22
5   Manly 18 11 0 7 334 261 +73 22
6   Balmain 18 8 0 10 351 256 +95 16
7   Newtown 18 6 0 12 210 341 -131 12
8   Eastern Suburbs 18 6 0 12 259 397 -138 12
9   Canterbury 18 5 1 12 214 386 -172 11
10   Parramatta 18 3 0 15 241 423 -182 6


The 1952 season saw North Sydney reach the finals for the first time since 1943.[1]

Home Score Away Match Information
Date and Time Venue Referee Crowd
  North Sydney 36-8   Manly-Warringah 27 August 1952 Sydney Cricket Ground 8,770
Semi Finals
  Western Suburbs 10-18   South Sydney 30 August 1952 Sydney Cricket Ground Jack O'Brien 34,181
  St. George 9-21   North Sydney 6 September 1952 Sydney Cricket Ground George Bishop 41,976
Preliminary Final
  South Sydney 26-12   North Sydney 13 September 1952 Sydney Cricket Ground Jack O'Brien 44,166
  Western Suburbs 22-12   South Sydney 20 September 1952 Sydney Cricket Ground George Bishop 41,060

Grand FinalEdit

South Sydney Position Western Suburbs
Don Murdoch FB George Bain
John Graves WG Bill Callinan
Malcolm Spencer CE Col Ratcliff
Frank Threlfo CE Gerry Lowe
Cliff Smailes WG Jack Fitzgerald
Norm Spillane FE Dev Dines
Ken Brogan HB Leo Trevena
Denis Donoghue PR Kevin Hansen
Ernie Hammerton HK Hec Farrell
Bryan Orrock PR Bill Horder
Ken Macreadie SR Don Schofield
Jack Rayner (Ca./Co.) SR Ron Watson
Ray Neilson LK Peter McLean (c)
Coach Tom McMahon

The rl1908 reference[2] transcribes Sean Fagan’s 2002 interview with Souths captain-coach Jack Rayner fuelling the suggestion that dubious refereeing decisions cost the Rabbitohs the 1952 title and prevented Souths from stringing together all six premierships of 1950 to 1955. However it cannot be argued that the Western Suburbs club were themselves a force of the 1950s, and their 1952 achievement was undeniably remarkable as they played the whole second half of the season and the finals without their stars Frank Stanmore, Keith Holman and Arthur Collinson who had all left with the touring Kangaroos to England and France.

Wests finished as minor premiers due in great part to their undefeated nine-game streak in the first full round of the 1952 season. In the Final they met Souths who were seeking their third premiership in a row.

The controversy centered on a disallowed Rabbitohs try early in the game. Souths’ Frank Threlfo made a break and slipped the ball to Ken Macreadie who was in under the posts. Referee George Bishop ruled the pass forward and disallowed the try. In the interview Rayner also comments on the lopsided penalty count.[2]

However the record-books show that Wests scored six tries to two, winning the match 22–12 and the club’s fourth premiership. Wests’ Hec Farrell and Souths’ Bryan Orrock were sent-off for fighting and went before the judiciary charged with kicking.[3] Wests' coach Tom McMahon became the first coach to win a premiership in his debut coaching season.

Ironically, ten years later Wests would again threaten to break a string of premiership wins – the 1962 and 1963 Magpie sides both came close to ceasing St. George's long run – but again several refereeing controversies would affect the outcome. Both the 1962 and 1963 Grand Finals have been said to have been decided by questionable calls from referee Darcy Lawler and on those occasion Wests would be on the wrong end of disputed rulings.

Western Suburbs 22 (Tries: Schofield 2, Fitzgerald, Dines, Bain, McLean. Goals: Bain 2.)

South Sydney 12 (Tries: Smailes, Macreadie. Goals: Graves 3.)


  1. ^ "North may pay record bonus". The Sydney Morning Herald. Australia. 1952-09-08. Retrieved 2009-12-05.
  2. ^ a b Rayner Interview
  3. ^ "Two R.L. men cautioned". The Sydney Morning Herald. 1952-09-23. p. 8. Retrieved 2009-11-20.

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