Scarlets

k.o. time: 5:30 pm

25 September, 1999

Stradey Park

Spectators: 4,000

Cardiff
referee
Nigel Williams
weather
Gloomy
our man of the match
Steve Williams
scorers
Kevin Ellis (1)
Simon Hill (1)
Paul Burke (1)
Paul Burke (2)
our choice for next week

vs Caerphilly

k.o. time: 2:30 pm

9 October, 1999

Virginia Park

15
Gethin Rhys Williams
14
Craig Morgan
13
Matthew Wintle
12
Jamie Robinson
11
Grant Esterhuizen
10
Paul Burke
9
Kevin Ellis
8
Emyr Lewis
7
Owain Williams
6
Steve Williams
5
Brett Barrett
4
Martin Morgan
3
Gary Powell
2
Damien Geraghty
1
Spencer John

The blame for this defeat must fall at the feet of the Valley Commando.

As we've previously pointed out, the back row combination of Ringer and Williams is totally ineffective. Cardiff recycled little ball in attack and could not make a tackle in defence. The ease with which Boobyer outplayed Ringer was embarrassing. Every week we are saying Ringer gets outplayed by his opposite number - how much longer will it take you to work it out, VC? Boobyer was full of heart and soul, aggression in both attack and defence and was the focal point for his team's performance. Ringer, in turn, was unnoticeable until a break and corner flag tackle in the last 5 minutes. Whilst he was busy complaining and painting his nails Boobyer was clearing up loose ball and preventing Cardiff attacks.

The victory against Neath was based purely on the play of the back five in the scrum. Again, Steve Williams was at his best with good takes from restarts (not that he had much practice at this!!), excellent tackling in defence and superb support play. He was unfortunate with Cardey-gan's "touchdown" try but at least he was there - unlike any of his back row colleagues. His form this season has been exceptional in a pack which is usually second best. The loss of Emyr Lewis was huge, however, as there was no galvanizing influence or central point from which Cardiff could attack. Owain Williams was busy and played with great heart, whilst Kacala was noticeable until the failed Warrington prop punched him out of the game in the first half. Barrett was busy around the field, but they all played as individuals. Their inability to pull together and play for each other when Llanelli upped the tempo was very noticeable, which is all very worrying when the coach is the Welsh forwards coach.

By far the biggest mistake that the VC made, however, was keeping Yates on after half time. The scrum was under huge pressure in the first half and any idiot could see that Yates was cracking worse under the pressure than the main stand at Neath. Cardiff had no basis for attacking from the base of the scrum, which is where they based their game. It was impossible to defend properly as the back row were always wheeled away from the ball. Yet only after the humiliation of a conceded penalty try did the VC bring on the very promising Gary Powell, even changing Geraghty beforehand.

The hooker was the only forward playing in the face of Llanelli and it is no coincidence that the points barrage came upon his departure. Once Powell was on the scrum held true. Questions must also be asked, however, on the scrummaging technique of Barrett. He came with a good reputation but his back is bent in every scrum. He cannot give adequate support, therefore, for his prop.

This would never have happened when Charlie Faulkner was at the club. Then Cardiff based their game on the scrum as a means of attack and were successful and they never suffered the embarrassing capitulation against the Turk forwards. How noticeable was the performance of Phil Booth . . . . . . .

So not only did the VC lose the game for Cardiff, he could not prevent the scoreboard going crazy. Whilst his team was getting hammered he chose to replace his experienced players with the promising band of youngsters. Esterhuizen was replaced by Robinson, Ellis by Ryan Powell and FINALLY Ringer by Wheeler. This experience of chasing shadows and playing in a totally demoralised team would not have done these youngsters an ounce of good. They are now tarnished by the same brush as those who started the game. It would have benefited Cardiff more to have kept on the more experienced players (especially Ellis) who would have tackled better and slowed the game done to prevent the scoring. Robinson's wonderful pass did set up the try for Simon Hill but his talents will be best served by being nurtured in a successful team, rather than being blown away by the Turks.

Rayer's leadership was nonexistent in the second half shambles. This goes to show how difficult it is to captain a team from full back, especially when a strong defence is called for. Far better for Cardiff would be to give the captaincy to Owain Williams who is constantly in the heart of the play at number 8, and is an inspirational player.

But by far the most embarrassing for the Cardiff coaching staff was the shambles of the defensive line up. At Bristol, Cardiff showed great discipline in defence, and always retreated behind the ball and kept a straight line. Against Llanelli there was no defensive line, Llanelli constantly creating overlaps - even with the hooker scoring on the left wing. With the selection of Botham and the aging Rayer, there was always going to space out wide. Why weren't Craig Morgan and Rhys Williams in the starting lineup? Why didn't we have fast men out wide - not only for defence but also for attack as well?

There is much work for this Cardiff coaching team to do. Undoubtedly, should Cardiff win anything this year it will be done to the superstars attracted by Peter Thomas' chequebook, rather than the nonexistent coaching skills of the VC.

15
Mike Rayer
3
/10
no leadership, no pace, but good positioning in defence. Should now retire and concentrate on coaching Rhys Williams and Craig Morgan.
14
Liam Botham
3
/10
why was he playing? What does Craig Morgan have to do?
13
Grant Esterhuizen
6
/10
Cardiff's most noticeable back. Formed a good defensive partnership with Wintle and bright in attack.
12
Matthew Wintle
4
/10
pretty uninspiring but tries very hard.
11
Simon Hill
1
/10
now has developed a strange habit of leaving his wing to tackle the man inside. This constantly led to overlaps and easy tries. Obviously shows he has no confidence in his back row.
10
Paul Burke
4
/10
kicked too much ball away and could not organize a defensive line. Totally anonymous in the second half.
9
Kevin Ellis
5
/10
totally competitive and again doing the tackling of Ringer.
8
Owain Williams
6
/10
competitive and active. Correct to question the obviously bent referee on his decisions (especially Boobyer's killing of the game).
7
Jamie Ringer
1
/10
why is he still at the club?
6
Greg Kacala
3
/10
beaten up by Finau.
5
Brett Barrett
3
/10
active around the field but cannot scrummage.
4
Steve Williams
3
Alan Yates
1
/10
outscrummaged by Bambi - oh dear!
2
Damien Geraghty
5
/10
a total nuisance to the Llanelli team. Why was he substituted? Does the VC seriously think that the 37 year old has-been (never-was been) that is Phil John performs better?
1
Spencer John
2
/10
not really used to going backwards but he also missed many tackles in defence.