By SCG Trust
This year’s NRL Heritage match at the SCG on Sunday 20 March will celebrate the 50-year anniversary of the last premiership in sequence by St George.
Eleven straight. Think about that for a moment as we wonder if it’s now possible to win two in a row.
Yes, it was a black-and-white world of grainy pictures and grainier memories, but those golden years when mighty St George ruled the SCG should never be forgotten.
It was an era when the game’s stars played hard and lived hard – and the mighty Saints ruled Sydney like no team before or since.
As the great Johnny Raper said in a Sunday Telegraph interview in 2011: “It was playing for the Dragons … that’s what made you feel invincible.”
To celebrate the occasion we’re counting down all 11 of the Saints’ premierships in the lead up to next Sunday, beginning with their 18-12 triumph over Balmain in 1956.
End of an era
The 1956 season was the end of an era for South Sydney and the start of something special for St George.
Balmain finished the ‘Souths dynasty’ of seven consecutive deciders with a 36-33 win in the preliminary final to set up a clash with the Saints the following week.
A then record crowd of 61,987 filled the SCG to witness a gutsy display by the Red V.
Merv Lees of the Saints injured his shoulder and was forced to the sideline, leaving St George a man down for the majority of the game.
After a back and forth first half, St George took a 13-5 lead over Balmain after a Kevin Brown try.
Minutes later they were in again following a barnstorming run by the great Norm Provan – a sight which would become all too familiar in the coming years.
The courageous 12-man St George side went on to defeat Balmain and kick-start the greatest premiership run in the game’s history.
Head coach Norm Tipping had led the Dragons in remarkable season which featured 15 wins, four losses and one draw but was controversially ousted at the end of the year.
Nonetheless, he laid an important foundation for their remarkable run.
St George Dragons 18. Tries: O’Brien, Bugden, Brown, Melville. Goals: Fleming (3).
Balmain Tigers 12. Tries: Staunton (2). Goals: Barnes (3).