- New South Wales Rugby League season 1991
Infobox rugby league season
year = 1991
competition = New South Wales Rugby League
imagesize = 125px
teams = 16
count = 1st
minor premiers =
mpcount = 1st
matches = 183
points = 6376
attendance = 2413218
top points scorer = (196)
top try scorer = (19)The
1991 New South Wales Rugby League premiershipwas the eighty-fourth season of professional rugby league footballin Australia. Sixteen clubs competed for the J J Giltinan Shieldand Winfield Cupduring the season, which culminated in a replay of the previous year's grand finalbetween the Canberra Raiders and the Penrith Panthers.
The 1991 New South Wales Rugby League season started with controversy. For the first time a draft system was in operation. It lasted just the one season before being defeated in the courts by players and coaches opposed to its limitations. The draft allowed teams to recruit players on a roster system based on where the club finished the previous year. It ran in reverse order with the wooden spooners getting first choice and the premiers last.
In 22 rounds of regular season football which lasted from March till August, eventual premiers Penrith won 17 games, drew one and lost only four. The Panthers finished on 35 premiership points and took their first minor premiership ahead of Manly and Norths (both 29 points), Canberra on 28 with Wests sneaking in on 27 points after beating Canterbury 19–14 in a play off.
The record for attendance at a match at
Campbelltown Stadiumwas set this season with a crowd figure of 21,527 for a game between Western Suburbs and St. George. Also this season the NSWRL took a match between St. George and Balmain to the Adelaide Ovaland it was met with success as around 30,000 spectators turned out for the game.
The 1991 season's
Rothmans Medalwas awarded to Canterbury-Bankstown's Ewan McGrady, who was also named as " Rugby League Week's" player of the year. The Dally M Awardwas won by St. George's Michael Potter, the first fullback to do so.
The number of teams fielded remained unchanged from the previous year, with sixteen clubs contesting the premiership, including five
Sydney-based foundation teams, another six from Sydney, two from greater New South Wales, two from Queensland, and one from the Australian Capital Territory.
The Sydney Football stadium was packed to capacity for the 1991 grand final which featured a tribute to the original 'Gladiators',
Norm Provanand Arthur Summonson the Winfield Cuptrophy's 10th anniversary as well as a rendition of the national anthem by Anthony Warlow.
Ahead 6–0 after an early try by Royce Simmons, Penrith slipped to 12–6 by half-time. Canberra's first try was scored by Matthew Wood following a chip-kick by Ricky Stuart. Their second was scored after the international trio of Bradley Clyde, Mal Meninga and Laurie Daley combined. The half-time score replicated the position of the two teams at the same point in the previous year's decider.
Early in the second half Penrith winger Paul Smith crossed in the south-western corner but the try was disallowed by referee Bill Harrigan after touch judge Martin Weekes ran onto the field and reported that Canberra's Mark Bell had been taken out with a swinging arm. Penrith's Mark Geyer over-reacted to the ruling and was despatched by Harrigan to the sin bin for ten minutes.
Geyer made amends when he finally returned to the field to a score-line that hadn't changed in his absence, with Canberra still leading 12–6. He linked up in a move with Greg Alexander, Greg Barwick and Brad Fittler for Brad Izzard to score. Alexander's conversion equalised the score at 12–12.
With six minutes to play Alexander broke the deadlock with a perfectly timed 37m field goal that travelled over the black dot.
Shortly thereafter Canberra's Scot Gale, who had come on to replace Ricky Stuart, took a line drop out and kicked short. The ball bounced freakishly to chest height and seemed to hang in the air until Mark Geyer came thundering toward it at full speed. He took the ball, saw Royce Simmons out wide in support and got the ball to him to score. Alexander's sideline conversion established a seven point lead and Canberra were out of time.
It was the Penrith Panthers' first premiership and their coach, Phil Gould, who went on to become the most successful New South Wales State of Origin coach, has rated his team's second half in this game as an example of a perfect half of football. [Chesterton "Good As Gould" p192] . After failing to follow their first half game plan and squandering an early lead, after the break the Panthers played to a formula of taking the ball up for full sets of six tackles, with Alexander then expertly kicking for the corners and the whole side pinning Canberra down at their own end with committed defence.
It was a fairytale farewell for Royce Simmons in his final game. He had been the backbone of the club for more than a decade of mostly pitiful returns, had been dropped during the 1990 and 1991 seasons and had lost the captaincy to Greg Alexander. Ultimately though he was chaired off the field as a two-try, Grand Final hero.
Penrith 19 (Tries: Simmons 2, Izzard; Goals: Alexander 3; Field Goal: Alexander)
Canberra 12 (Tries: Wood 2; Goals: Meninga 1, Wood 1)
Clive Churchill Medal: Bradley Clyde(Canberra)
World Club Challenge
Having won the premiership, the Panthers travelled to England to face the British Champions,
Wigan RLFCin the 1991 World Club Challengeon the 9th of October at Anfield Stadium, Liverpool. Penrith were defeated 4 to 21 in front of 20,152 spectators.
*Chesterton, Ray (1996) "Good as Gould" Ironbark Press, Sydney
* [http://www.stats.rleague.com/rl/seas/1991.html Rugby League Tables - Season 1991] "The World of Rugby League"
* [http://www.rleague.com//db/year/1991/j_j_giltinan_shield_and_winfield_cup/index.php 1991 J J Giltinan Shield and Winfield Cup at rleague.com]
* [http://rugbyleagueproject.com/competitions/NSWRL_1991.html NSWRL season 1991 at rugbyleagueproject.com]
* [http://www.rabbitohs.com.au/The-Club/Tradition/Results---1991-2000.html Results: 1991-2000 at rabbitohs.com.au]
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