Cardiff

7 November, 1998

West Hartlepool
referee
Alan Ware
scorers
Robert Jones (1)
Lee Jarvis (1)
Anthony Sullivan (1)
Mike Rayer (1)
Gareth Thomas (1)
Steve Williams (1)
Lee Jarvis (5)

Boy did we suffer in the first half of this game, which was the worst rugby we've seen this year, plumeting depths not even visited when we "entertained" Northampton. If the team think that their opponents were the worst in the league, then Cardiff have learned nothing this year. Getting dragged down to the level of the opposition was precisely what we want to avoid this year. Little or no ball during the first half meant that we had little to work off and the scraps given to us were wasted. That the score was only 3-0 at half time showed just how bad West Hartlepool are. Thankfully, the roasting Cardiff must have had from the coaching staff produced the point-a-minute second half revival, where we finally got out of first gear.

Dan Baugh was the only shining light of the first half (especially with his tackling) but Steve Williams' introduction gave him a chance to show just how awesome he is in his preferred back row position. His tackles were important, he carried the ball well and his intellignet play opened spaces for his team mates.

So at last this season, Kacala was no longer the only ball carrier in the team. Steve Williams made the space that led to Cardiff's first try as Kacala took out the defence, the ball was spun out wide and Gareth Thomas again showed that he is a true striker.

We were enjoying controlled, intelligent rugby. Jarvis' tactical awareness was spot on. His probing kicks for Sullivan's pace caused panic in the West's back three. The wing has awesome speed and he frightened the life out of the opposition throughout the game.

Brilliance in attack though could not mask Jarvis' glaring defensive weakness. He could have prevented both of West's tries. It was his woeful attempt at a "tackle" on Emmott Farrell that led to Wests' second try. With the first, he could at least have dived at the ball, perhaps if it was at the other end he would have been a little keener. Apart from these two howlers, he was awesome. An excellent try, combined with good passing, fine touch kicking and almost perfect goal kicking resulted in almost the perfect game. If only he would tackle . . . . . consistently.

Turning to the pack, the second half so the game of the season from our second rows. Derwyn rucked well blocking effectively at the breakdown as well as the usual raids on oppostion line-out ball. Tait was superb both in attack and in defence. He was always in support and made more than his fair share of crucial tackles. With Steve Moore only a couple of weeks away from fitness, Derwyn is playing for his place and we're seeing the benefits of a competitive squad.

Robert Jones scored on his home debut, but his overall play was spolied by shipping on some pretty bad ball, especially with West's centres 5 yards off side.

Overall Cardiff showed that they were way ahead of West Hartlepool. But then again, everybody in Allied Dunbar One is also miles ahead. Nothing was really proved except that the first half performance and attitued showed us the dangers of the complacency which has dogged too many performances in recent times.

Gareth Thomas' game summed up the team's performace. He was truelly awful in places yet the try he scored will make some people forget this. Until he irradicates the dead end breaks and improves on the timing and accuracy of his passing (such as that horrible schoolboy "pass" to Botham that gave the try away), he will struggle to contribute fully to the team in the way that a great player like he is, should.

15
Mike Rayer
7
/10
had little to do but made his tackles and scored his try
14
Anthony Sullivan
8
/10
tackled well, showed awesome pace and recycled the ball well
13
Gareth Thomas
5
/10
all or nothing
12
Matthew Wintle
6
/10
surprisingly quiet game
11
Liam Botham
7
/10
again worked hard
10
Lee Jarvis
8
/10
would have had 10 had he tackled properly
9
Robert Jones
7
/10
quiet, but scored his try well
8
Greg Kacala
8
/10
very dominant performance
7
Dan Baugh
8
/10
looked good until getting injured ... replaced by 17. Williams S (9) - a truly outstanding second half performance
6
Owain Williams
7
/10
chased well but shirks the donkey work
5
Derwyn Jones
8
/10
best game of the season
4
John Tait
9
/10
outstanding in defence and attack
3
Lyndon Mustoe
6
/10
again anonymous in anything but the scrum
2
Paul Young
6
/10
strangely quiet game
1
Spencer John
7
/10
worked hard but had little to do