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The Sydney Morning Herald

Worrier Kirwan blows one, makes two

Date: 23/04/1995
Words: 541
          Publication: Sydney Morning Herald
Section: SPORT
Page: 40
For a veteran of 58 Tests and 34 tries as a closet professional for the All Blacks, John Kirwan admitted to a mystifying bout of nerves when he bombed a try on his professional debut for Auckland yesterday.

Kirwan, 31, who came out of rugby union retirement to join the Warriors this season, more than made up for his blunder, setting up two tries as Auckland broke their duck away from home with a 40-4 trampling of Parramatta.

Somehow, as is often the case when Kiwi sporting teams play in Sydney, there seemed to be more Auckland supporters than locals among the official crowd of 10,426 at Parramatta Stadium.

And every time Kirwan touched the ball, the excitement level in the stands rose.

Given a roaming brief in attack by coach John Monie, the beefy winger was into the fray early, taking a pass first off the ruck in the second minute with four Eels required to ride him to the ground.

When opposite number Michael Erickson easily beat Kirwan with a side-step in the 16th minute, there were a few groans.

After Parramatta took a 4-0 lead in the 19th minute through a try to young second-rower Justin Morgan, Auckland's appalling defensive record of conceding 88 points in their previous two matches away from home looked set to further haunt them.

But then Kirwan took a difficult cut-out pass from Phil Blake 10 metres out, beat Erickson and carried two defenders with him before somehow throwing an overhead pass to Tea Ropati to score.

Kirwan pumped his fist in a combination of relief and delight as his teammates engulfed him.

Two minutes later, captain Dean Bell broke clear, drawing the fullback as Kirwan galloped in support, sniffing his first try in the rugby league big time.

The crowd rose in expectation, the media sensed the big story. Then Kirwan muffed it.

The incident left Auckland coach John Monie not overly impressed with his star rah-rah recruit.

"I thought he could catch," Monie offered.

So did Kirwan. "Yeh, yeh, I don't know what happened ... very disappointed in that," he said.

"But all in all, I enjoyed it. John's (Monie) given me room to attack and I enjoy attacking - it's good getting the ball in hand so many times. In union I definitely don't touch it so many times."

A glut of possession helped Parramatta hang on to trail 10-4 at half-time.

After the break it was Auckland's turn to enjoy some ball, resulting in a flurry of 18 points in just 11 minutes to ensure their first win on foreign soil and another demoralising loss for the Eels.

It was a Kirwan rampage which began the rout, setting up five-eighth Gene Ngamu as Auckland capitalised on the home side's habit of coughing up the ball on the first tackle.

For reasons unknown, a gent in the stands was moved to give a blast on his bagpipes with the match drawing to a close.

The slightly demoralised ground announcer responded with a desperate US-style bid to stir some local support: "Here come the Eels," he offered. Taped clapping followed. The crowd laughed.

Parramatta also suffered a hefty injury toll, including the luckless Michael Buettner (dislocated shoulder), centre partner Robert Muchmore (concussion) and fullback Phil Howlett (shoulder), while second-rower Brett Plowman was reported for allegedly using an elbow while in possession.

But before other rah-rahs follow his lead, Kirwan said he was convinced professional rugby was on the way. While he had no intention of switching back, he suggested a few of his All Black and Wallaby comrades might benefit from resisting offers to follow him to league for the moment.

AUCKLAND 40 (P Blake S Hoppe T Ropati D Mann T Tatupu S Jones G Ngamu tries G Ngamu 4 G Alexander S Jones goals) bt PARRAMATTA 4 (J Morgan try) at Parramatta Stadium. Crowd: 10,426. Referee: D Jay.

             W  D L   F  A  Pts
Manly        7  - -  236 74  14
Newcastle    7  - -  214 108 14
Brisbane     7  - -  188 82  14
Canberra     7  - -  167 75  14
Norths       4  - 3  220 100  8
Bulldogs     4  - 3  145 91   8
Cronulla     4  - 3  133 86   8
Syd City     4  - 3  163 137  8
Wests        4  - 3  155 157  8
Illawarra    3  1 3  174 181  7
Auckland     3  - 4  198 167  6
Tigers       3  - 4  121 162  6
West Reds    3  - 4  105 188  6
Penrith      2  - 5  118 143  4
St George    2  - 5  116 162  4
Gold Coast   2  - 5  110 200  4
Sth Qld      1  1 5   70 190  3
P'matta      1  - 6  108 194  2
Souths       1  - 6  114 212  2
Nth Qld      -  - 7  88  234  0
Canberra v Brisbane at Bruce, Western Reds v Penrith at WACA
Manly v Saints at Brookvale, Souths v Cronulla at SFS (night).
Bulldogs v Norths at Parramatta, Illawarra v North Qld at Steelers, South Qld
Crushers v Parramatta at Suncorp, Auckland v City Roosters at Ericsson, Gold
Coast v Newcastle at Seagulls, Wests v Tigers at Campbelltown.
FOOTYTAB: Pick the winners: Bulldogs, St George, Manly, Wests, Tigers, Western
Reds, South Qld, Auckland, Gold Coast, Newcastle. Provisional Div: $2,090.40.
Pick the margins: Brisbane 1-12 St George 1-12 Manly 13-plus Wests 1-12 Tigers
1-12 Canberra 1-12 draw Auckland 13-plus Sydney City 1-12 Newcastle 13-plus. No
winners. Jackpots to next weekend. Pick the score: Newcastle 34 Souths 16. Prov
Div: $148.35. Brisbane 13 Bulldogs 8. Div: $1,253.25. St George 18 Norths 6.
Div: $429.50. Manly 36 b North Qld 14. Div: $184.05. Wests 18 b Cronulla 14.
Div: $179.05. Tigers 13 b Penrith 10. Div: $8,653.50.
BRISBANE 13 (G Lazarus A Langer tries J O'Neill 2 goals field goal) b SYDNEY
BULLDOGS 8 (R Relf try D Halligan 2 goals) at ANZ Stadium. Crowd: 44,395.
Referee: E Ward.
MANLY 36 (D Moore 3 J Hopote S Menzies C Lyons tries M Ridge 6 goals) b NORTH
QUEENSLAND 14 (J Loomans 2 D Bouveng tries S Holmes goal) at Stockland Stadium.
Referee: M Oaten. Crowd: 22,167.
AUCKLAND 40 (P Blake S Hoppe T Ropati D Mann T Tatupu S Jones G Ngamu tries G
Ngamu 4 G Alexander S Jones goals) b PARRAMATTA 4 (J Morgan try) at Parramatta
Stadium. Crowd: 10,426. Referee: D Jay.
SYDNEY CITY 28 (G Mackay P Clarke T Iro (2) J Hudson tries G Mackay 4 goals) b
GOLD COAST 16 (S Wilson T Patterson P Gill J Lenihan tries) at SFS. Crowd:
6,847. Referee: T Mander.
CANBERRA 28 (A Fulivai 2 K Nagas D Furner S Walters tries D Furner 4 goals) b
WESTERN REDS 21 (G Fleming 2 T Horan M Fuller tries C Ryan 2 goals T Horan field
 goal) at Bruce Stadium. Crowd: 15,012. Referee: K Jeffes.
SOUTH QUEENSLAND 24 (D Plowman D Krause G Liddiard M Ford tries St Ellis 4
goals) drew with ILLAWARRA 24 (R Wishart 3 S Timmins try R Wishart 4 goals) at
Suncorp Stadium. Crowd: 16,253. Referee: T Kelly.
NEWCASTLE 34 (R O'Davis 2 P Harragon A Johns J Ainscough N Barnes tries A Johns
4 J Ainscough goals) b SOUTH SYDNEY 16 (T Smith D Trindall S Wilson tries A
Willett 2 goals) at Marathon Stadium. Crowd: 20,685. Referee: M Lewis.
WESTERN SUBURBS 18 (P Langmack D Willis B Dunn tries A Leeds 3 goals) b CRONULLA
 14.(A Ettingshausen S Ryan tries M Rogers 3 goals) at Caltex Field. Referee: D
Manson. Crowd: 12,785.
ST GEORGE 18 (W Bartrim G Tallis S Gourley tries I Herron 3 goals) b NORTH
SYDNEY 6 (I Cleary try J Taylor goal) at Kogarah Oval. Crowd: Abt 4,000.
Referee: P McBlane.
SYDNEY TIGERS 13 (T Brasher try G Barwick 4 goals field goal) bt PENRITH 10 (S
Pethybridge R Beckett tries R Girdler goal) at Parramatta Stadium. Referee: G
West. Crowd: unavailable.
BRISBANE: G Lazarus try. SYDNEY BULLDOGS: D Halligan goal R Relf try. CRONULLA:
M Rogers goal A Ettingshausen try. WESTS: A Leeds goal P Langmack try. SYDNEY
CITY: P Clarke try. GOLD COAST: S Wilson try. AUCKLAND: T Ropati try.
PARRAMATTA: J Morgan try. CANBERRA: S Walters try. WESTERN REDS: M Fuller try.
NEWCASTLE: A Johns goal P Harragon try. SOUTH SYDNEY: T Smith try. SOUTH
QUEENSLAND: D Plowman try. ILLAWARRA: R Wishart try. ST GEORGE: S Gourley try.
NORTH SYDNEY: J Taylor goal I Cleary try. TIGERS: G Barwick pen goal, T Brasher
try. PENRITH: S Pethybridge try.
                       T  G  FG  Pts
A Johns (Newcastle)    5  35  -  90
M Ridge (Manly)        3  38  -  88
J Taylor (Norths)      2  33  -  74
J O'Neill (Brisbane)   2  26  2  62
D Halligan (Bulldogs)  2  26  -  60
G Ngamu (Auckland)     2  25  -  58
D Furner (Canberra)    2  24  -  56
J Simon (Illawarra)    6  11  -  46
C Lawler (Parramatta)  3  16  -  44
R Wishart (Illawarra)  3  16  -  44
TOP TRY SCORERS: P Blake (Auckland) 10, S Hoppe (Auckland) 8, D Hall (Norths) 7,
 J Hopoate (Manly) 7, A Langer (Brisbane) 6, S Menzies (Manly) 6, D Moore
(Manly) 6, B Pearson (Wests) 6, S Russell (Tigers) 6, M Seers (Norths) 6, J
Simon (Illawarra) 6.
              F  A
Manly        40  14
Norths       38  18
Auckland     36  28
Newcastle    35  19
Brisbane     33  14
Sydney City  30  23
Illawarra    30  32
Canberra     28  13
Wests        24  26
Cronulla     23  14
Bulldogs     23  15
Penrith      22  21
Tigers       21  29
Gold Coast   21  35
St George    19  28
Western Reds 19  32
Parramatta   19  33
Souths       19  39
Nth Qld      17  42
Sth Qld      12  34
SEND-OFFS: Terry Cook (South Queensland), Darrell Trindall (South Sydney).
POSITION THIS TIME LAST YEAR: Manly (8th), Brisbane (7), Newcastle (9), Canberra
 (3), Norths (1), Bulldogs (2), Cronulla (6), Sydney City (10), Wests (14),
Illawarra (12), Tigers (13), Western Reds (-), Auckland (-), Penrith (5), St
George (4), Gold Coast (16), South Queensland (-), Parramatta (15), Souths (11),
 North Queensland (-).
THE CROWDS SO FAR: Brisbane 235,687, Auckland 145,236, Sth Qld 132,925, Bulldogs
 131,505, St George 128,482, Canberra 123,900, Nth Qld 112,455, Manly 111,432,
West Reds 110,629, Newcastle 97,088, Wests 93,288, Cronulla 85,190, Norths
84,499, Illawarra 79,372, Souths 74,039, Penrith 73,517, Sydney City 70,005,
Sydney Tigers 65,222, Parramatta 56,546, Gold Coast 52,133.
Source: League Information Services.
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