Cardiff

k.o. time: 2:30 pm

2 January, 1999

Cardiff Arms Park

Spectators: 9,903

Leicester
scorers
Craig Morgan (1)
Anthony Sullivan (1)
Robert Howley (2)
Lee Jarvis (3)
Lee Jarvis (1)

(Sullivan pass count : 5-ish)

At last, our run of defeats has come to an end, though to what extent this will ease the pressure on Terry Holmes remains to be seen. He has Dean Richards to thank for picking a second fifteen though, and as a result the game lacked the sparkle of the visits of Saracens and Bath.

But there was no real leap forward in Cardiff's performance from recent weeks, and Swansea will easily complete the double next week unless we see a dramatic improvement. The victory owed more to the nature of the opposition than to a real upturn in performance. The team is still competing at only 60% of its potential.

Leicester were beaten at their own game with the tight play of our forwards showing huge improvement, leading to two tries for Howley. The co-ordination of the drives from the lineout (although sometimes a little slow) and the scrummage (especially after the appearance of Andrew Lewis) were the areas where Cardiff had the advantage. Hard work on the training field is reaping its rewards and Steve Moore's driving play should have earned him Man of the Match. He was simply outstanding and Graham Henry would not have failed to miss this.

Although our forward play against a weakened pack showed some improvements, our back play is still a little suspect. With centres lying too flat there was a lack of pace in the line. This tactic probably suited Mike Hall but is essentially defensive and does not make use of Cardiff's strengths out wide. Against an opposition who hardly passed the ball beyond the stand off, it made for uninventive centre play. However, when Mr Hall chased and caught Tim Blimpson after giving him a 5 yard head start, that would have qualified for the Champagne moment, and shows there's still life in the old dog yet. Both wingers were busy, although Howley had a difficult day with ball like a bar of soap and NO support from his forwards.

The major problem for Cardiff is the ruck. The game fell away from Cardiff when they failed to get quick ball from the breakdown. The team doesn't have a player who wins the ball on the floor and when Dan Baugh left the field any hope of quick play left with him. Paul Williams played very well in his absence but he's not yet strong enough to clear players out. Derwyn's rucking is improving all the time and he's doing the simple things well. The props are non-existent as Mustoe is way off the pace and Frank Spencer spends more time looking for a glory pass than doing the hard graft of winning the ball at the ruck. Winning the ball at the breakdown in not Owain Williams' strong point. Too many times he is absent from rucks in attack and when defending the fringes he always lets the player over the gain line.

This problem means that the backs have very little room to move in. On one of the few occasions when they did receive quick second phase ball Sullivan scored an excellent try. He'd be used more effectively by working off the shoulder of Kacala, taking the ball on a short pop pass as the big man breaks the tackle. Throughout the season, coaches have struggled to work a pattern to use Kacala and Sullivan to full effect and surely this is the answer - give Sullivan the ball in space and no one will catch him. More of this please!!

More quick second phase meant the try for Craig Morgan was possible. Showing his class in attack with poise and balance in the chip ahead and the speed in for the kill. Once Mike Rayer can coach him on the high ball and he improves on his positioning he will be a future Welsh full back.

Swansea'll be a massive challenge as they are a well coached team with each player clearly playing to a set plan. Everyone knows their responsibilities and the team knows exactly what tactics are required - there are no solo glory players and yet everyone works of their team mates strong points. Cardiff have the players to beat Swansea, but can they play to a pattern which will bring us victory? Over to you, Terry.

15
Craig Morgan
8
/10
cracking try, lovely running but poor positional play and dodgy under the high ball. A better fly half would have exposed him - pass to Sullivan!
14
Simon Hill
6
/10
a quiet game but kept himself busy
13
Mike Hall
6
/10
steady and strong, always available to take the tackle. He took the pressure of Jarvis well.
12
Matthew Wintle
6
/10
a little unsure of how to use Hall. The partnership looked as though they hadn't played together before.
11
Anthony Sullivan
6
/10
took his opportunity well and looked for more work this game. Came off his wing well to score the try. Also attempted to show off his rucking skills! Needs more time as he is quickly learning the game.
10
Lee Jarvis
9
/10
his best game this season. Always trying something new - the chip off the knee was Ringoesque and the cross kicks for Sullivan showed his ruigby brain. He even made a thumping tackle!!
9
Robert Howley
6
/10
received no protection which made him look awful. Was constantly having his arm knocked, but battled on and still managed to take the right option. Showed drive and leadership for his forwards so woefully lacking in Robert Jones.
8
Greg Kacala
6
/10
better first half performance than second - was nowhere for Leicester's try.
7
Dan Baugh
6
/10
some big tackles before being injured. Why are we now left with almost no cover in the back row? We knew Emyr Lewis would be out for months, and with Baugh-Williams-Kacala playing almost every game this season, wasn't it inevitable that someone would get injured?
6
Owain Williams
5
/10
poor tackling and the rain and muddy pitch negated his basketball style of play.
5
Derwyn Jones
8
/10
his best game this season. Took very good lineout ball and cleared out from the rucks well. The only player looking after his scrum half.
4
Steve Moore
9
/10
made a huge difference to the tight driving play of the Cardiff pack. Was centre to everything in this department. Scrummaged well and always made his tackles. A cracking acquisition now that he's fit.
3
Lyndon Mustoe
5
/10
too unfit and slow. A real has-been.
2
Paul Young
8
/10
very good tight driving and his throwing at the lineout has improved tenfold, especially in the strong winds. Here's a player who's worked on his weakness and improved his all round game as a result - a shining example to other players in the squad.
1
Spencer John
6
/10
capable, but Andrew Lewis is better.