Sale

10 October, 1998

Heywood Road

Cardiff
referee
Clayton Thomas
scorers
Paul Burke (1)
Liam Botham (2)
Simon Hill (1)
Paul Burke (1)
Paul Burke (1)

Perhaps it'd have been too much to ask to win every game this season, but this game has indicated how much we need to improve to meet that goal. Cardiff were comfortably beaten by a very strong, powerful side, well coached and very focused, perhaps even the best team we have encountered in recent years (that includes Brive).

Sale knew how to beat Cardiff. They varied their line-outs brilliantly, attacked the inside shoulder of the outside half and recycled ball very quickly. Burke had no support in defence and was therefore made to look very exposed, but perhaps as the drift defence from his open-side was non-existent others should also shoulder the blame. Out wide, Sale were always a threat and in the centre, Barry-Jon Mather was superb. On numerous occasions he breached the defence easily and Shane Howarth was simply the match winner. But it was from second phase, when he played primarily at outside half, that he was at his best.

So where did it go wrong for Cardiff? Cardiff fielded a weakened side, but this only proves that our squad needs strengthening. Burke had a shocking game, Hall was slow and weak, and the front five only had one player. A lack of a platform for the first time this season meant that Cardiff were constantly having to defend. John and Mustoe, Jones and Stewart cannot play in these combinations again because it leaves us too weak in the most important area. With the introduction of Young, Lewis, and Tait, a new steel was introduced and as a result we finally troubled the scorers.

Our tight defence was not too bad, and although it is a little harsh to judge him on this performance, Ringer is a flanker for an attacking team who are on top. When tackling and support of his outside-half is needed Ringer is never anywhere to be seen. He should have come off at half time and been replaced by Dan Baugh (who also made a greater impression), as should have both props.

Special praise must be given to Howley and Hill, who carried the team. Our scrum half is back to his brilliant best and shone against a powerful back row and the combative Kevin Ellis. Hill was superb, especially when taking the ball at pace in the centre position. This is something that Mike Hall has not done since pre-Vernon Pugh days. Take note, Ringo.

This game has proved that our second string players are not good enough to all play in one combination. For next season, we need strengthening in key positions. Surely, with the salary we are paying him a replacement for Ringer can be found. After many years of wonderful dedication to CRFC, Mr Hall is now reaching coaching age, and how we missed a combination of Tony Rees and Steve Moore for this game. This is an early warning, Gareth Davies - ignore it at your peril.

15
Mike Rayer
7
/10
defended all day without error
14
Liam Botham
7
/10
always keen and looking for work
13
Mike Hall
3
/10
slow and struggling
12
Matthew Wintle
6
/10
did the tackling of 10, 13 and 7
11
Simon Hill
8
/10
very good, impressive at centre
10
Paul Burke
5
/10
very up & down
9
Robert Howley
8
/10
did not put a foot wrong
8
Greg Kacala
6
/10
tackled OK
7
Jamie Ringer
4
/10
fast and struggling
6
Steve Williams
6
/10
a tough game to return in
5
Derwyn Jones
5
/10
looked like a giraffe again
4
Keith Stewart
4
/10
more aggression in a Tesco shelf stacker
3
Lyndon Mustoe
3
/10
see above
2
Jon Humphreys
5
/10
is injured, oh bloody hell!
1
Spencer John
5
/10
invisible