Pontypridd

k.o. time: 5:30 pm

12 February, 2000

Sardis Road

Spectators: 6,000

Cardiff
referee
Chris Rees
2
/10
Totally obliterated any chance of a free flowing game in the first half by confusing the defensive players at rucks with crazy decisions by allowing attackers to dive on the ball at EVERY ruck!
weather
Dry with a weak breeze
worth annoying the wife factor
4
/10
our man of the match
Andrew Lewis
general comment

Ground: Like our pitch

scorers
Liam Botham (1)
Neil Jenkins (1)
Neil Jenkins (5)
our choice for next week

vs Newport

k.o. time: 5:30 pm

26 February, 2000

Rodney Parade

15
Gethin Rhys Williams
14
Gareth Thomas
13
Jamie Robinson
12
Leigh Davies
11
Craig Morgan
10
Paul Burke
9
Robert Howley
8
Steve Williams
7
Dan Baugh
6
Emyr Lewis
5
John Tait
4
Steve Moore
3
Dai Young
2
Jon Humphreys
1
Andrew Lewis

A return to the house of fun for Cardiff saw them do the double in a game where Ponty threw everything but the kitchen sink at a stubborn Cardiff defence to little effect.

But it was pretty turgid stuff.

Ponty, who completely monopolised possession, lacked a creative spark in the back line who could free his team mates from some fierce tacklers. Head down and ineffective charge seemed to be the order of the day (where have we seen that before?). There was plenty of brawn but hardly any brain. As the gutsy attackers drove hard and low into the Cardiff defence, time after time they were driven back in the tackle by some fierce aggression. The ball was slow emerging from the ensuing ruck as a result and we were treated to the same thing all over again.

The Cardiff performance was built on an incredibly resolute defence and hardly any attack. They seemed content to suck up attack after attack and hit on the break. Cardiff hardly breached the Ponty 22 in the first half, but every time they did, Jinx slotted over a penalty. For all the time spent encamped in the visitors 22, Ponty failed to convert possession into points.

Jarvis' game seems to have plummeted since returning to Ponty. He tried little all game. His kicking from hand was largely ineffectual, and he failed to make a single break. When the ball was slow emerging from rucks and mauls, instead of lying deep and going for the drop goal, he shipped on poor ball for his centres who got hammered. Bizarrely, he's no longer taking the kicks on goal, and with Brett Daily's failure to give enough length, why wasn't Jarvis popping them over? The man with the enormous boot and lightening speed is a shadow of his former self. What a waste! Indeed the best outside half on the pitch was Geraint P Lewis, who surely deserves a chance in the Welsh no 10 jersey. His vision is excellent, his passing superb and even pin point kicks are now standard to his game. So, he can't tackle, but what no. 10 can? The obvious choice!

As an attacking force, Cardiff were pretty absent throughout the evening. The VC seemed to have sent them on an 80 minute tackling practice session and they failed to compete with any conviction for the 50-50 balls which all seemed to go Ponty's way. With Jinx robotic in his passing in the first half - catch (facing the passer), shuffle 180 degrees and pass - no one was straightening the line, and the attack drifted across the pitch to the inevitable knock on or forward pass. In the second half, as Ponty closed in, there was more urgency to the performance, but you could see that most of the players knew all they had to do was turn up to win. A little too much arrogance is a dangerous thing, but when you're wining playing at 75%, what do you expect?

Rarely throughout the game did the unit raise themselves as one, with only individuals putting in that extra effort at key times when forced to do so. There was hardly a constant peak of performance throughout, other than perhaps by the backs for Botham's try, and by the forwards in their ritual demolition of the Ponty scrum.

Dai Young's captaincy is hardly noticeable, pretty much as we predicted at the beginning of the season.

Cardiff really seemed to be going through the motions in this one. Playing well within themselves, they always seemed to be able to go that extra step up if needed. Ponty, meanwhile, were tilting at full pelt, particularly in a frenzied last 20 minutes. The talismanic Chef joined the fray to no effect whatsoever, other than a feeble attempt at a late tackle on Jinx. Every time he had the ball in attack he was dumped back on his @rse behind the gain line.

Cardiff's tactics changed at half time (and some credit to the VC for this). With the pedantic English fool with the whistle ruining any chance of a flowing game - peppering penalties for what seemed like every ruck in the first twenty minutes and preventing players entering the line outs late etc. - the rucking game changed to a mauling game which destroyed Ponty's pack. But you have to ask yourself why it took the coach to make this change at half time. One of the most predictable things of the evening was the rate of knots which with which Ponty's scrum would go into reverse gear. Therefore, logically, Cardiff should also be strong in the maul. However, no one seemed to make that connection during the fist half.

Why, at defensive scrums, does Don Boat pack down on the blind side? His tackling is much more fearsome than Martyn Williams, yet this is wasted with opposition teams passing the gain line. With Quinnell making charges at Saddy Park, Don Boat's defence will be vital. The make up of the defensive line out is also a shambles. Does Steve Williams move to no. 2 to compete and thus put Fatty Fester at the back?

Although Geraint Lewis shone in attack his defence was non-existent as Cardiff ran in their try and as the back row foraged in attack. In defence he was outplayed by Steve Williams, but in attack he shone. Wales needs more than this from a flanker and this is why he is not yet international class.

The wild dervishes who now pay their eight quid to stand in the tin shed to watch Ponty were once fervent supporters of their own team. But when there's nothing much left to support, they've now turned their attention to mindlessly chanting abuse at opposition players. With barely a brain cell between them, they've failed to realise that when you say the opposition are cr@p and you lose, how good does that make your team? Baying like a pack of hounds and whipped up into a frenzy, the Neanderthal cry of "Ponty, Ponty" has now been replaced by moronic insults hurled at the opposition. Oh dear! And to think we praised these supporters following the December game. Looks like a serious misjudgement, that.

Everywhere Cardiff have played this season, there's been an excellent away support. But on Saturday, hardly anyone turned up. We wonder why? Well, perhaps a visit to the House of Shame is about as much fun as watching England stuff Italy. With a club house the size of a phone box, in search of oxygen we had to brave the rain outside to drink a pint which started off as Worthies and ends up as some hops-flavoured rain water. Dying for a quick Jimmy, we passed through the gates to a building housing some of the word's most feared creatures - the Ponty loo. Not since the days of visiting the 'avon have we experienced such fear in a public convenience (no Mr. Michael, we don't mean that sort of fear). Half expecting to meet David Attenborough doing a documentary of the walls, the whole experience leaves a wretching feeling in your stomach. Moving to the corrugated shed that doubles as a stand (now there's a euphemism, if ever we saw one) - and remember it cost us eight quid to stand here - the next challenge is to find a spot where your view is not blocked by a metal girder. Any chance of a reduced ticket price for an obscured view? Showing no fear we headed for the half way line and stood next to the fervent clan already ranting and spitting their hatred at the opposition.

And this is where things started to get really surreal.

The stewards, who had so assiduously checked our tickets twice, had allowed in two individuals carrying dustbin lids and foot long metal bars. These they beat at frequent intervals throughout the evening. Now call us namby pamby liberals, but allowing such weapons into a crowd of six thousand. Are they mad? Still the dustbin lids almost drowned out the volleys of abuse that rolled off the stand, liberally peppered with homophobic allusions which brought back the memories of the rascism we had to endure when Nigel Walker was playing. When this "entertainment" was over we than had to you waste a gallon of petrol inhaling half of the Brent Oil field leaving the ground. And they wonder why they're hardly favoured team of the month for joining a British League! The ground has hardly changed during the past twenty years. The 'boxes' are extremely temporary, the tannoy system can only be heard on one side of the ground and you can't see the scoreboard. Does Pontypridd have a future in the professional era at the top end? Discuss.

There's much room for improvement in the Cardiff team as well, though. And if we don't improve in time for the European Cup game, we're going to be in trouble. We need to see a much more committed and professional approach from the players, whose motivation should be either their own professional pride, or fear of losing their place. Enduring this performance, you never really got the feeling that players were playing for their place (other than ALP). With a squad like you've got, this should be easy VC!

So the top team in the Village League were slain with ease and Cardiff seem to be on a roll. If there's no British League next season, and still no one seems to know what's going on, then we're in deep trouble as a rugby playing nation. Games like this benefit no one. Cardiff held all the aces, and for all Ponty's commendable efforts, they were once more battered in the scrums and had no invention in the back line. (What happened to the 250 grand for Jinx? Surely they didn't spend it on two Tongans? Why didn't they go out and buy some big Welsh props who can scrummage? Only with grandad Griffiths playing at prop was there any sort of stability in the scrum?!) Or perhaps the Groundsman replaced his old Montego with a new one (the pitch was flat!!). The gulf in class was so apparent that, although Ponty's players gave 135%, there was only to be one winner. Sure enough had Drett Bavey kicked his points then Cardiff would be behind, but you always felt that this would just urge Cardiff into scoring just enough points more.

Let's not forget that 12 months ago the WRUin turned down the offer of a British League with four Welsh teams in it! How attractive that looks now! If there's no breakaway next season, then it looks likely that there'll be no British League. Rich backers in Wales will pull out, and our stars will leave in search of bigger pay cheques. The Celtic "Second Division" League will act as a feeder league to the money bags sponsored by Sky, and we'll see second tier players in this fixture next season. Pretty miserable prospect, isn't it?

15
Gethin Rhys Williams
7
/10
Another player who did enough, but little extra else. Jarvis' bombs were only really unleashed in the second half and failed to reach Rhys. Looked untroubled in defence and speedy in attack, but in order to break up the monotonous repetition of the Howely-Jenkins pass, he really needs to come more into the stand off position for second phase. Teach him Mikey!
14
Liam Botham
7
/10
Took his try with ease and some whole-hearted charges with ball in hand. Kicking with accuracy is still poor with yet another what is fast becoming traditional direct kick to touch. Looked steady in defence and doesn't lose the ball in contact. Still looks unlikely to cut through with rapier speed, but that really doesn't seem to be what Howells is looking for.
13
Gareth Thomas
4
/10
Hardly in the game. Shouldn't have played, probably, as he was clearly still suffering the after effects of his flu.
12
Leigh Davies
7
/10
Some bullocking charges. Without Alfie outside him to flip the pass to, he tried a little too hard and lost the ball in the tackle on too many occasions. Helped take the try well.
11
Nick Walne
5
/10
Broke well through the non-existent Ponty tackling for his try, but other than that was rarely in the game. Gareth Wyatt always looked likely to run rings around him (but never did). Gradually coming into the game more than he has done so far this season, but really is not making the impact that say ...... mmm .... Craig Morgan would do, if given a chance?
10
Neil Jenkins
3
/10
Another woeful performance from the prima donna with the ears. Seemingly drifting in and out to the game as he chooses, sometimes making an effort, but more often than not, little effort. In the first half, instead of kicking the ball long and pressurising Ponty into mistakes, he chose to run the ball from deep leading to turnovers and mistakes which enabled Ponty to monopolise the first half territorially. Kick-offs were woefully long - just gave the ball to the opposition. Constantly standing flat means he just ships ball on and takes no tactical ownership. Cardiff are becoming a boringly predictable rabble - just like the Welsh team. Jinx is destroying any creativity in the backs with his one-track, pass-the-buck tactical approach.
9
Robert Howley
5
/10
A man trying to regain his confidence by showing more application than many of those around him, he's still way off his best. In the Northampton-Bristol game yesterday, Dawson was making little breaks and flipping the ball to those forwards in support. In the Cardiff team, however, when Howler makes a break, there's either no one behind him or he lacks the confidence to believe someone's behind him, and his first option on contact his to hit the dirt, nose first and look for a ruck.
8
Steve Williams
8
/10
Good to see the big man getting a run out in the back row - his first at number 8 since the baptism of fire in Montferrand. Carried the ball well and always looked to offload in the tackle. A refreshing alternative to the crash-bang-wallop number 8s that we've seen in recent weeks. Seemed to be troubled by injury throughout though and faded in the second half. Tackled well in the loose and was always about behind the centres in defence as well as behind Rhys Williams on the high ball - as a good number 8 should be. Give us some more!
7
Martyn Williams
4
/10
Was he playing? Made one good diving save in defence after a quick Ponty 22 drop out, but other than that failed to make a crunching tackle all game (one of the few Cardiff forwards to fail to make a crunching tackle all game). After-you-Sir defence almost let the rapier speed of the Ponty centres through. On the whole, out-fought in the loose. Way off getting selected for Wales.
6
Dan Baugh
8
/10
The man just keeps those performances coming. Boy do we need a player like this is the Welsh team! He and ALP drove the Ponty ball carrier back in the tackle time after time. Talk about turning defence into attack! Always in the thick of things, always in the face of the opposition - Mr Consistency.
5
Mike Voyle
7
/10
Took some good lineout ball and got around the pitch well. Even managed to make some tackles, though still hardly any impact in the collision. Still spills the ball far too often whether before, during or after contact.
4
Craig Quinnell
4
/10
Did the constant abuse of the crowd get to him? If so, he's a long way from being a full professional. Either way, he's a shadow of the player of the Five Nations last year. Fat men can't jump, and he sure didn't, enabling a stream of possession from Gough in the lineout. The VC seems to favour giving the opposition clean ball and not contesting. Although, bewilderingly this tactic changed half way through the first half with and then Steve Williams also being thrown in the air on opposition throw in. Talk about poor organisation! Quinnell had a few ball carries but Gough looked for him in the loose every time. Gough rarely carried the ball in the loose. However, as expected, it was the scrum where Gough was completely muldooned. On the whole, too predictable. Gough scores for lineout work - Quinnell scored for scrummaging - Quinnell scores for ball carrying - Gough scores for some tackles in the loose. It's all about the balance of the team. On the whole two poor players - one way below his best and the other trying hard to impress.
3
Dai Young
6
/10
Some work in the tight, bossing people about. Totally outscrummaged Ponty -but is that an achievement? Excellent defence around the sides of rucks forced Ponty to move the ball wide. One excellent moment saw him 'persuade' Jason Lewis not to punch Martyn Williams - by lifting him off the floor!
2
Andrew Lewis
8
/10
Our man of the match. Two not-straights blotted his copy book, but he was everywhere in the loose, tackling like .......... tackling like .............. tackling like ............ well, Humph, actually. Undoubted scrummager, good ball carrier, he turned in a much better performance than Barry "Suits you, Sir" Williams. Given the paucity of good hookers in Wales, GH could do a lot worse than ALPie. Where are you Marcus Thomas??!?!?
1
Spencer John
5
/10
Looked totally snookered in this match. Hardly saw the man. Hardly carried the ball. Hardly looks like a man who wants to win an international spot. Not enough EFFORT!!