Cardiff

k.o. time: 2:30 pm

2 September, 2000

Cardiff Arms Park

Spectators: 5,331

Edinburgh
referee
Hugh Watkins
6
/10
Another wasted Saturday for Hugh who had little to do.
weather
Cloudy and Sunny - dry
worth annoying the wife factor
6
/10
our man of the match
Steve Moore
general comment

Spectators: 5000 season ticket holders, 326 locals, 5 away supports. A Celtic League next season will make things even worse, with even fewer away supporters!

scorers
Dai Young (1)
Owain Williams (1)
Nick Walne (1)
Steve Moore (1)
Neil Jenkins (1)
Craig Morgan (3)
Jamie Robinson (2)
Neil Jenkins (7)
Mike Rayer (2)
Neil Jenkins (3)
Neil Jenkins (1)
our choice for next week

vs Pontypridd

k.o. time: 12:00 am

9 September, 2000

Sardis Road

15
Craig Morgan
14
Gareth Thomas
13
Jamie Robinson
12
Pieter Muller
11
Nick Walne
10
Neil Jenkins
9
Robert Howley
8
Greg Kacala
7
Dan Baugh
6
Owain Williams
5
John Tait
4
Steve Moore
3
Spencer John
2
Jon Humphreys
1
Gary Powell

"Anyone who doubted the pre-season predictions that the Welsh/Scottish League would be more competitive this year than last would have had their eyes opened last Saturday". So went the introduction to the program for Saturday's game following Edinburgh's total of 43 points against Ebbw Vale last week. But how premature that comment proved to be as Cardiff completely annihilated a woefully inadequate and ill-prepared Scottish team who do not belong in the same league at Cardiff on this showing!

Despite an excellent start from Baugh running with ball in hand it was the Scots who took the lead first, with some poor clearing out by the forwards and hesitancy by Howley leading to a penalty and 3 points slotted by Duncan Hodge. But that was the first and last time for them to enjoy supremacy.

Cardiff's weakness in the lineout is still now solved however and on Alp's first throw lacked power and was easily pinched by the Scots who chose to contest every lineout - unlike Cardiff who constantly gift the opposition the ball. Indeed, the catch and drive from the lineout proved to be their greatest asset in attack. With such obvious weaknesses in the Cardiff game plan, it really was bewildering how poorly prepared the Scots were for this game. They seemed to be totally unaware of Cardiff's areas of weakness and instead began the half by trying to move the ball through the centres. With Muller in totally destructive form, they got nowhere - was it still a good idea to leave out Graham Shiel?

Back to the lineout, and Humph is clearly still unhappy with wayward thows, confusing sign play and poor coordination meaing the ball is still going to the opposition too frequently. Meanwhile, Steve Moore remains completely unused and the catch and drive is blatently missing from Cardiff game, making attacking options a little predictable. There's been little progress in this area during the past month. Unbelievably the VC took Moore off when he brought Tait on with 20 minutes to go, proving his blind spot for Voyle. As he was responsible for bringing the man to the club then if he doesn't pick him he probably feels it is an admission of his own misjudgment. Well, Howells, there's no room for petty pride! Pick your best players - Moore was excellent and Voyle anonymous!

Meanwhile in the scrum, again the game started with a lack of control. Scrums still started with wheeling and popping up in the front row and Cardiff's drive seen against Leicester again wasn't quite there.

During the first half, the Scotts defended with determination - spoiling well at the ruck and maul and with players strung out across the pitch making the tackles, Cardiff were forced to looked hard to find a way through. It was left to Jenkins showed some good awareness and slot over (another) drop goal as part of his 31 points tally for the game. Although Jenkins is still the best place kicker in the world, Duncan Hodge out-kicked Jenkins as far as touch kicks were concerned.

As Edinburgh attacked in the opening half an hour they won so much ball in the ruck where Cardiff were slow to contest. With Baugh seeing his role (quite rightly) as tackler/destroyer, and Owain Williams too loose to make an impact, it should have been Martyn Williams' role to win the ball in this area. This sort of division of responsibilities should have been decided prior to the game. In the absence of three players who are multi-skilled (an awesome tackler, a loose passing player and a physical, mauling player all rolled into one), this sort of thing should be worked out on the training ground.

However, Owain Williams did win some excellent ball from both rucks and mauls in the second half, making up for the work that then non-existent Martyn Williams shirked. But once again the smoker's lack of tackling let him down, and big Edinburgh forwards were allowed to charge at Jenkins. Instead of one of the Williamses making the tackles, the stand off had 7'1" Metcalf running at him!

But it was the team work of the defence that was so strong. When Edinburgh did have the ball they were driven back in the tackle by the likes of Muller and Boat or chased and harried around the pitch by Powell, Owain and Humph.

Walne and Muller showed some good charges up the centre of the pitch on Cardiff ball. Muller was a thorn in Scottish sides all afternoon. Whilst not particularly quick in defence his timing of the tackle is world class - he just seems to know how to lineup the tackler so well. Still quite clearly not fit enough for the higher level of rugby we will face in October, the man still has enough vision and skill to waltz through a game like this! Good to see that the VC kept him on for a full 80 minutes - he needs the match practice! Howley looked to take quick penalties throughout the game as he did against Neath but with the Scots constantly throwing the ball away and a clueless referee failing to stamp down on this, there was little opportunity for Howley to increase the pace of the game.

Duncan Hodge chipped away at Cardiff's lead in the first half but tries by Owain Williams (making up for a disallowed try by Owain when he failed to cling on to a pass right on the Edinburgh line) and Young coupled with a superb touch line conversation from Jinx took Cardiff into half time with a 23-9 lead. Whilst on the pitch, Dai Young also made some nice charges taking the ball at pace, and was on hand to score a try in his 100th game. But after 20 minutes he was significantly substituted by Humph following a calf injury .... and Alp moved to tight head.

Then came a second half which saw the home team move up a gear with some awesome rugby - totally outclassing a Scottish team containing at least 6 Scottish internationals. 57 points were scored as Cardiff's pace and power ripped Edinburgh to shreds.

Jenkins and Morgan started the half well with Morgan standing flat (a la Campese) and Jinx kicking to the corner. Later in the game, Morgan pointed to his stand off to chip over the top for him to run through on, and he duly obliged. And to think we were deprived of watching Morgan last season because the VC sent him to Abercynon and picked Botham instead!! He has now scored 45 tries in 53 start for Cardiff ....... And he didn't get picked last season?!?!?!? He's now scored in the last 14 consecutive games! Eat your heart out Milk Monitor!

Shortly after half time, Jenkins slotted another penalty to make it 26-9. Then Walne went over in the corner from another excellent pass from Powell and Cardiff were suddenly up to 33-9. The VC took off Paul Jones and stuck Alfie in at full back and the fearsome site of Alfie appearing between Robinson and Morgan to take the ball at pace scared the Scots to death. The game was over as a contest - it was only a question of how many points Cardiff were going to score. As the game came to a close, and Caridff wer running in tries direct from the kick off, Ryan Powell came on for Howley and Rayer appeared at outside half. A succession of tries from Morgan and Robinson and superb passing from Alp and Powell followed.

Excellent defence throughout the game with the team determined to stop an Edinburgh try. But they failed to achieve this with a flop over the line from 2 yards by Martin Leslie. Cardiff's biggest weakness being the close, tight play.

There were signs of good driving play at forward in this game, particularly from Moore, Humph, Kacala and Powell. Against tougher opposition, we're going to need more ball carrying forwards and surely these four must be in the starting lineup for the Ponty game. Balance these with looser forwards like Spencer, Tait, Baugh and Owain (?) and there's a good all round pack emerging. Great to see Cardiff put to the sword a team who didn't deserve to be on the same pitch as them. Too often we get dragged down by the opposition and this performance was highly professional - setting your own standards!

A word on Ian Jones. For those of us who watch the U21 game afterwards, Mr Jones surely has one of the widest jerseys in the game. Unfortunately though, he makes Dai Young look like Linford Christie! He also hits rucks and mauls with the impact of a ping pong ball and is hardly active in the scrum either. He may still be young, but looks no better than Darren Sweet who disappeared off the Rumney(?). With both Spencer and Dai Young out, failure to sign Kevin Yates is looking dangerous. But with wonderful performance from Gary Powell, we still have two props and a hooker (Powell-Alp- Humph) who can compete with anyone in the Village League - but will he pick Alp at prop?

What performance will we see from Cardiff next weak? Turn in a game like they did against Neaf and they'll not get anything from Ponty - play like they did against Edinburgh and we'll really be up for some fun. Judging by last season's tactics, where the VC was content to play the percentage game and keep it tight, we're more likely to see a completely different type of performance again! Our view is that in the same way that Bridgend played a simple game against Llanelli - put the ball behind them and close down their counter attacks (as Neath did against Cardiff) - expect Cardiff to play the same tactics against Ponty, pretty much as they did last season.

And finally, a word for the patronizing idiot on the PA who thanked the opposition for coming all this way! They're professionals and he should slag them off for their joke performance! Taking our money and only playing for 40 minutes is not good enough! There needs to be a seed change in the committee box away from these amateur buffers and get more younger professionals on board to take the game forward.

15
Paul Jones
6
/10
Good speed with ball in hand, but still a little suspect in defence. Has a curious technique of fielding a kicking charging ten yards and kicking it on the hoof regardless of where he is on the pitch. Got lucky with a few kicks, but there's enough potential there to work on. Needs more bulk! Eat your Farley's Rusks!
14
Nick Walne
7
/10
Some excellent work in defence by the big man and now looking for the ball around the pitch. Still doesn't quite seem to have fitted in as well as Craig Morgan, but with more games in the team, things will get better.
13
Jamie Robinson
8
/10
A little subdued in attack in the first half, the Scots got no change from him in defence. As the game opened up in the second half, he showed us his full range of passing skills and timing of the run. Still seems to play better with Pieter Muller than does Alfie.
12
Pieter Muller
8
/10
A man coasting at this level and still not as fit as he should be. His defence is frightening and his ability to put faster runners outside him away with slipped passes ripped open the Edinburgh defence time after time. By the end of the game, the Scots were clearly backing off from tackling him as he set up tries for Jamie Robinson and Craig Morgan.
11
Craig Morgan
9
/10
Just some uncertainty under the high ball away from a 10. Awesome pace and vision. Great kicking off his left foot. Excellent defence. Totally outplayed Cammy Murray with a frightening performance of all round skill. Playing with great confidence - this man is destined for the top. Shane who?
10
Neil Jenkins
7
/10
World class kicking from the Ginger Monster. The Cardiff backs seemed to end the game running for the corners, just to give Jinx the kicking practice. Fed well off the ideas of those around him, particularly in taking the right kicking options for Craig Morgan.
9
Robert Howley
7
/10
Has clearly recovered his hunger for the game and this performance was full of determination and pace. The vision is there, but some of the kicks were a little wayward. Still showing some hesitancy when passing from the base of rucks but made a searing break in the second half from his own 22.
8
Owain Williams
7
/10
The man still cannot tackle below the waste, and was rescued by Don on more than one occasion. Nevertheless, once more won some good ball at ruck and maul and linked well with the back line. Has become a vital part of the lineout with his tail jumps. The old man looks back and is playing some good rugby! Good on ya, Owain!
7
Martyn Williams
2
/10
Who? Barely made a tackle, was nowhere in the loose winning, hardly took a pass and seems way of his best form. What's up, Martyn?
6
Dan Baugh
9
/10
The man just gets better. Now CRFC may have got away with getting rid of Paul Burke - the supporter's favourite last season - but if Dan is not around for another five years, there'll be a riot! What a player! Nobody turns defence into attack as well as he does. Thunderous tackles, direct hard running and the first name on the selection sheet.
5
Mike Voyle
4
/10
Anonymous. Won some lineout ball, but that was only because Cardiff seem to refuse to use Steve Moore. Not sure about the foreigner's rule, but what Tait needs to do to get a chance, nobody knows.
4
Steve Moore
9
/10
Back to his best! Excellent support play in the tight, Steve was always the first player in support, driving hard behind the ball career. Time and time again Cardiff were able to make yards because he was in support. Needs to be brought into the game more - come of VC, use him in the lineout!
3
Dai Young
8
/10
Is injured! Oh dear! We hear it could be two weeks, which will at least make him available for the European games, but will rob us of his presence for the two season-forming games to come - Ponty away and Newport at home. Win those two, and we're definitely in Europe next season. Lose them , and we've got a lot of work to do. Dai scored a try on his debut but left the pitch in tears with yet another calf injury.
2
Andrew Lewis
7
/10
Played hooker, played prop, played second fiddle in lineout-throwing to Humph ...... The whole situation is a mess. We all know what Humph feels about the VC, but will Alp feel any better after this shambles? Supported well in the loose and made two tries with wonderful passes (as he did last week). Would surely benefit from getting back to what he's good at - playing loose head prop.
1
Gary Powell
9
/10
Wonderful performance from Powell. Always taking the ball at pace, his timing of the pass was Robinsonesque! Worked very well in the loose ripping the ball from mauls, and was always on hand to support the ball career. His best game for Cardiff yet! A man who's out to prove that he should be the number one number one.