Harlequins

k.o. time: 2:30 pm

16 January, 2000

Spectators: 6,400

Cardiff
referee
Iain Ramage
6
/10
Managed to keep the players on side - which was nice - but didn't have a clue about the scrummage, out of position for the "tries" and missed Leonard trampling on Andrew Lewis head - even told him that if he was going to lie there he deserved it/brain damage!
weather
Clear, fine and crisp
worth annoying the wife factor
9
/10
our man of the match
Gethin Rhys Williams
general comment

Wish we had a pitch like that

scorers
Gethin Rhys Williams (1)
Nick Walne (1)
Neil Jenkins (3)
Neil Jenkins (3)
our choice for next week

vs Rumney

k.o. time: 12:00 am

22 January, 2000

Riverside Park

15
Gethin Rhys Williams
14
Craig Morgan
13
Jamie Robinson
12
Matthew Wintle
11
Simon Hill
10
Paul Burke
9
Ryan Powell
8
Greg Kacala
7
Dan Baugh
6
Paul Williams
5
John Tait
4
Steve Williams
3
Gary Powell
2
Damien Geraghty
1
Lyndon Mustoe

Now this one really was worth annoying the wife to go and see! And judging by the number of Welsh voices in the crowd, at least half of the 6,500 had also risked the wrath of the spouse for an afternoon in the London sunshine. What a game! Despite the total pummelling we gave the Quin's line in the first half, we were simply unable to convert all that pressure to points, and in the end slinked off at half time, wondering how on earth we were only 13 points ahead!

Cardiff enjoyed a world wind start and a dodgy penalty try which saved Liam's blushes. Then an exquisite chip from Howley allowed the ever-excellent Rhys Williams over in the corner. Jinx kicking meant we were 17-0 up after 11 minutes, and we'd hardly had time to celebrate the first try. This was just too easy! But somehow we knew the Quins would be back.

Quinnell and John peppered the whole game with excellent driving in the tight ­ good ball carries which cut deep swathes through the Quins defence. Cardiff's recycling of ruck ball, means that we rarely see any turnovers - a marked improvement from last season and a direct result of some excellent coaching. However, what we're gaining in continuity and solidity, we're losing in flair and speed. Too often, Cardiff drove close to the breakdown - phase after phase after phase. But when there's so little speed out wide, then the four-forward-drives-and-spin-it-to-the-wing-rugby that we need to see is very difficult to play. Neither of Cardiff's wings had a good day and this lack of width to their play, meant they started to take on very Wasp-like characteristics ..... one or two up and crash to a ruck, one or two passes and ruck. Where are the long passes and fast wingers?

Jason Keyter playing opposite Botham played him off the park, charging past him for one try and worrying him every time the ball was hoisted by Five Bellies or the excellent Huw Harries. Meanwhile, Botham's kicking let him down on too many occasions ­ direct kicks to touch or poorly paced prods down the line. He gave Gareth Thomas one awful pass in defence ­ Golden Rule No. 1 .. never pass on bad ball! For the penalty try that wasn't, once more he was put into space with only the full back to beat and couldn't. How man times have we seen that this season? You can never fault his determination, application and guts, but once more on Quins first try before half time, the Englishman was found wanting for pace as O'Leary sped past him and dived under the posts. Let's hope Henry's bluffing and trying to persuade Woodward to pick the cricketer for the Six Nations!

But at least he was always in the game, which is more than can be said of Walne. Talk about lonesome cowboy! Where were you?

Once more the referee played a decisive part in the proceedings. Whilst being a stickler around the ruck/maul area, and always watchful for the offside, he didn't have a clue how to referee the scrummage and was too far from the action at key times during the game. We lost count of the number of times he penalised our loose head (and we had three during the game!) for driving in at an angle, but any schoolboy prop will tell you that when your under pressure in the scrum - and Quins went back at a rate of knots from the first scrum - there are many ways to confuse the referee. Push on the loose head and not the tight and bingo the scrum does not go back in a straight line. Quins worked this out pretty quickly and the ridiculous ref. fell for it every time. Unfortauntely, Cardiff did not. Penalties followed penalties at almost every scrum. If Cardiff were offending constantly, why didn't he get his card out? Didn't have a clue .....

There were some totally unnecessary acts of violence by Quins players during the game which the officials failed to notice. One the ref. did notice was Spencer head-butting Garlic Morgan's fists and he rightly got a yellow card for such disgusting behaviour. But when that East End Wide Boy, Jason Leonard, decided to trample all over Andy Lewis' head right in front of the referee and the Trappist touch judge - no action was taken. We haven't forgotten the way Mr Leonard broke Mike Hall's arm with a similar act of thuggery. Come on Cardiff - site the man!

The battle of the outside halves showed the superiority of the rotund Rees over the jittery Jenkins. Rees mixed up his game with long touch kicks, box kicks and even a drop goal. He ran/rolled well from second phase and always made yardage against some weak tackling from Martyn Williams. But, then again, he hit the post with the crucial penalty. Jinx, meanwhile, seemed clueless in the second half and could not control the game, rather leaving it to those around him to carry the ball into ruck after ruck. When we needed up-and-unders against the midget playing at full back for Harlequins, we had none. When we needed deep kicks to the corner to keep the pressure on, they came from Howley and the excellent Mike Rayer. Jinx, you've got a long way to go to convince us that you can boss a game and make use of the excellent ball you get from one of the best front fives around. Every time he took the ball he was standing so flat his centres has little time to look for the opening. Whereas Rees kicked from the half way, this was beyond Jinx distance with two attempts. When we were unable to score tries in the first half, why didn't you lie deep and drop some goals, Jinx? That would pull the defenders onto chasing you, leaving space out wide and behind them.

Because the ball coming back from rucks and mauls was of such a variable pace, our centres couldn't time their runs. Whilst Thomas and Davies had good solid games as individuals, this was their least effective outing for a while as a unit. Alfie's obviously been practising hard on his kicking and put in another couple of excellent grubbers again. When running with ball in hand, he also broke the defence time after time but there was no wing outside him waiting for the pass!

In the second row, we saw the benefit of Tait in the lineout as he challenged opposition throws and took key balls in attack. His athleticism around the field is legendary, though at kick offs - particularly defending from a 22m drop out - both he and Fester were slow to react to Quins tactics. They lay too deep and so our props ended up jumping against Quins second rows. Quinnell, meanwhile had his best game for Cardiff with excellent charges in attack (only losing the ball once in contact, unlike his brother) and wrestling well in the tight. Unfortunately, he still gave away his usual penalty for dirty play, and one of these days, it's going to be costly!

There were too many dodgy tries in this game to fill us with any confidence in the referee. First there was the high tackle which was not. Then there was Keyter's disallowed try which definitely was a try, but was disallowed. There was a clear forward pass before the try which the ref. missed. For the try Keyter was given, he clearly dragged the ball forward over the line, which should have been a knock on! Then there was Dan Baugh's try from an excellent lineout move, disallowed because of a forward pass from Tait. Then there was Humph's try - outsprinting Five Bellies and dislocating his shoulder in the process. On this occasion the mute touch judge failed to see Humph's arm applying downward pressure - hence the dislocation - right in front of his eyes! Every game seems to be racked with dodgy decisions. Who will we get for the Turkey game? At least it won't be another WRU stooge.

The second half started traditionally with Jinx suicidally running ball almost from his own line. Botham fluffed the kick to touch and Rees kicked the penalty. Thank you Jinx. When you should have been playing the percentage game and steadying the ship after the Quins' try, within a matter of minutes, we'd gone from 20-0 to 20-10.

As Hairyqueens chipped away at Cardiff's lead, first Alfie and then Humph went off and things were looking bleak as Rees kept kicking his penalties. When they briefly took the lead, it seemed like November all over again, but we hadn't counted on Andrew Lewis and Mike Rayer who made telling contributions in the final quarter. So much for AL's dodgy lineout throwing! Admittedly he spent more time with Tait this time, but his throwing was truly excellent (looks like all that extra practice is finally paying off, eh Joseph?). Whether ball carrying for good yardage in attack or heroic tackling in defence, the man was everywhere. We'd feared the worst with Hump going off, but we'd not counted on Lewis' talismatic performance in the last quarter. Rayer's steady kicking from the stand off position put in two key kicks in the dying minutes, which added essential stability to the team (and the supporters).

Following more excellent recycling of the ball, when Quins went ahead for the first time, within a matter of seconds, Nick Walne was taking his second pass of the game and running in under the posts! With one more penalty from Jinx, we were through! Was the singing under the stand after the game in celebration of a famous victory, in relief or in celebration of Barf not qualifying. Certainly it wasn't in joy at looking forward to the trip to Stradey for the quarter finals. When we were looking forward to Paris, or even back to Ireland, where do we end up? Llanelli. Ah well, if the ever shrewd Peter Thomas has his way, the game'll be in front of 72,500 at the Millennium Stadium. And even the WRU have agreed to that !

15
Gethin Rhys Williams
9
/10
Cardiff's most potent attacking weapon. Solid in defence with good decision making, he cut through the Quins defence on numerous occasions. Took his try well. A big match player.
14
Liam Botham
5
/10
At fault for both Quins tries ­ lacked the pace to catch O'Leary and missed his man for Keyler's try. Two big mis-kicks to touch. Disappointing performance.
13
Leigh Davies
7
/10
Backs alignment was poor and we saw nothing of the Alfie-LD partnership. Nevertheless, still broke the gain line regularly.
12
Gareth Thomas
8
/10
Alfie has clearly added a new dimension to his game this season and his intelligent kicking to the corners helps keep the pressure on the opposition, even when a try is not immediately on the cards.
11
Nick Walne
5
/10
Doesn't do anywhere near enough to get into the game. Doesn't seem like a team member and work rate must improve. On present evident ­ over-rated.
10
Neil Jenkins
6
/10
Yet another one dimensional performance from the static man in the middle. Whilst his kicking from hand was impeccable (no missed kicks to touch this time round), he came up against possibly the best kicker in World Rugby ­ Gareth Five Bellies Rees ­ and missed two penalty attempts. No up-and-unders (despite the low sun), no chips over the top (only Howley managed that) and constantly lying flat so that the defence could always work out what was going on. No variety in attacks meant that despite all that ball in the first half, we only finished the half 20-7.
9
Robert Howley
7
/10
Howlers best game of the season so far. Although still strangely hesitant at key moments, he seems to be building for the Six Nations. Superb chip for Rhys' try, he discovered his kicking game today. Passing was still erratic, and we saw no charges into space from quick penalties, but the man is on his way back.
8
Emyr Lewis
8
/10
A big game again from the man always working hard at the back of the scrum. Strong cover tackles and a willingness to charge well in the loose showed real leadership at the key moment. But - not for the first time in his career ­ now that he's so close to a Welsh call up, he's gone and injured himself!
7
Martyn Williams
6
/10
Up against five bellies, he lacked the physical presence and aggression to drive the big man back in the tackle. As a result, Quins back line were able to charge deep into Cardiff's midfield in attack. When Cardiff have ball in hand, his support play was excellent. A pattern seems to be emerging. Get some tackling lessons from the Canadian Kidney expert and you'll be the complete player!
6
Dan Baugh
8
/10
Another top class performance from the power house tackler. With Humph, these two drove the ball carrier back so many times in the tackle, winning turnovers with regularity. Good ball carries and recycling of the ball.
5
John Tait
8
/10
Excellent lineout work even pinching opposition ball - watch and learn Michael! Supreme athleticism around the field and good ball carries. Needs to work more on taking the kick off as he sat back too often.
4
Craig Quinnell
8
/10
Best game for Cardiff since joining the club. Ever present in the loose and working hard in the tight, we're seeing a real battle between him and Moore. Let's hope they can both learn from the other's strengths! Even managed some lineout takes! Relished the battle with Garlic Morgan and always drove hard and straight with ball in hand.
3
Dai Young
7
/10
Once more, with ever increasingly regularity, the Cardiff front row completely destroy the opposition scrum. Where can we find a team to compete? The Irishman's interpretations showed schoolboy frailties and were totally unfathomable. Dai's presence in the tight was instrumental in driving the Quins back. More ball carries please, Dai!
2
Jon Humphreys
9
/10
Injured. Oh dear! It's getting a bit predictable harping on about tackle counts, ball carries, support play .. keep him in moth balls 'til April. But what a loss to the Welsh team!
1
Spencer John
7
/10
Another player completely unable to understand the man in green's interpretation of the scrummaging laws. Maybe needed to work more in the tight - lost out to the pummelling Australian in the Tyson warm up battle.