Harlequins

18 September, 1998

Twickenham Stoop

Cardiff
referee
Fred Howard
scorers

Once the pedantic, pedestrian pensioner had realised that the crowd had come to watch flowing rugby and not the Frankie Howard show, this turned into an entertaining afternoon.

For the first twenty minutes we were treated to action reply rugby - slow, repetetive and predictable. Harlequins were constantly off-side and Robert Jones was slower than the thought pattern of Neil Jenkins in space. The visitors scored a well worked try after they had retrieved a box kick from Jones which was way too short. However, the sight of John Tait matching the 'Quins winger for pace, showed Cardiff theway to win. The foreigners were slow in thought and slow in deed. Even when out-muscled up front for Dai Young's try, Quins were unable to change their game plan of "give it to someone to kick it away". The hallmark of the Harlequins, however, was their excellent defence which is the feature of the Allied Dunbar. This game showed how Cardiff have improved this year as no doubt a Welsh team would have cracked under the pressure but Harlequins held firm. Therefore, Cardiff had to vary their game plan to overcome this, and the patience and ball retention throughout the game was superb.

The second half was a wonderful show piece of attacking, free flowing rugby. Cardiff were able to spread it wide, drive it close and pass before contact. Gareth Thomas was the epitome of this and he was outstanding. Whilest on the wing in the first half he looked dangerous when he hunted for the ball, making the initial half break that led to Shimmy's first try. Terrance noted this (!!!) and swapped him to the centre where he was a constant threat. On this form he is a must for the national team, regardless of what number he wears because he turns up wherever he can cause most damage.

Others making a notable contribution included the excellent Hall whose defence was immaculate and his intelligent use of the ball allowed others to shine. He totally outplayed Will Carling whose only contribution to the game was to kick the ball away. Hall kept the ball alive at all times ensuring wave after wave of Cardiff attacks which any team would struggle to defend against. It is this recycling play which makes Cardiff an impressive team on this form.

Ringer and Lewis make satisfactory comebacks from long term injury. However, with Paul Wheeler and Paul Williams impressive this season it must be the time for Cardiff to bite the bullet and sell these two players. Certainly, there's no way that Ringer's worth £55,000 per year. Although Derwyn scrummaged well when he came on, he is another player who should be off loaded as he cannot keep up with the play or play in the same style that we saw on Saturday. Up front, however, many others were impressive, most notably Tait. Playing this style of rugby he is the best second row (from Canada) in Wales.

15
Jonathan Thomas
5
/10
a pale shadow of the player who first came to Cardiff.
14
Simon Hill
8
/10
beginning to widen his attacking tactics with chips over the top to complement his mazy running.
13
Mike Hall
9
/10
surprisingly awesome today against a player from his own generation. Strong running, strong tackling and great defence.
12
Matthew Wintle
7
/10
a competent performance in which he kept the ball alive at all times.
11
Gareth Thomas
10
/10
a faultless performance of power and pace. A bargain at £150,000.
10
Lee Jarvis
8
/10
took the ball at pace to speed up the game. Clever running angles, good tackling (!!!) and one awesome 80 metres punt.
9
Robert Jones
6
/10
so slow getting the ball away from the breakdown. Why??
8
Emyr Lewis
7
/10
some big tackles and good ball carries. Returing to fitness well.
7
Jamie Ringer
7
/10
back to the old days of the glory tackles. The fact is that had he done his job in the first place this kind of play would not be needed.
6
Greg Kacala
7
/10
his usual destructive game.
5
John Tait
8
/10
very good performance in the loose. this was his type of game.
4
Steve Williams
6
/10
not fast enough around the field and not working hard enough.
3
Dai Young
7
/10
WOW !!! A full game!!!!!! Excellent scrummaging.
2
Paul Young
7
/10
came into his own in the second half with fast play.
1
Spencer John
7
/10
confident, but gets his hands on the ball too much.