Cardiff

k.o. time: 5:30 pm

16 September, 2000

Cardiff Arms Park

Spectators: 10,000

Newport
referee
Nigel Whitehouse
6
/10
Kept discipline well. Eratic refereeing of the scrum (nothing new there, then). Listened to the crowd a bit too much, but managed to keep the game flowing.
weather
Sunny with slight wind
worth annoying the wife factor
9
/10
our man of the match
Craig Morgan
scorers
Craig Morgan (1)
Robert Howley (1)
Neil Jenkins (2)
Neil Jenkins (4)
Neil Jenkins (1)
our choice for next week

vs Bridgend

k.o. time: 12:00 am

23 September, 2000

Cardiff Arms Park

15
Gethin Rhys Williams
14
Nick Walne
13
Gareth Thomas
12
Jamie Robinson
11
Craig Morgan
10
Neil Jenkins
9
Robert Howley
8
Emyr Lewis
7
Wayne Fyvie
6
Martyn Williams
5
John Tait
4
Craig Quinnell
3
Spencer John
2
Damien Geraghty
1
Andrew Lewis

A game built on solid team defence and individual brilliance allowed Cardiff to embarrass Newport into defeat. Although the All-Star-visitors had 70% of possession and 65% of the penalties they only once broke Cardiff's try line even though they spent the whole game camped in Cardiff's half.

The game started with some dodgy touch kicks from Jinx which gave the initiative to Newport. From a subsequent scrum, Howarth took the lead. The Cardiff defence faced a relentless pounding with forward charges from a very physical back row, Rawalpindi and the excellent Rod Snow. But crucially, the visitors failed to work the ball into space. Looking for contact against a physically smaller Cardiff pack seemed to be their pre planned tactics but instead of mauling against which Cardiff have a well established weakness, they chose the battering ram approach.

We all knew Cardiff were going to be in trouble up front. Shorn of players like Humph, Dai Young, Quinnell, Dan Baugh, Emyr Lewis and now Fyvie, parity amongst the forwards was never going to be easy. The first half showed the biggest weakness with Welsh ruby, however, as neither side had the tactical sense to spot their opponent's greatest weakness. Newport were content to crash into the centres when they should have mauled Cardiff off the park, and instead of spreading the ball to Walne and Nobody, Cardiff's forwards worked close to the rucks and mauls.

A first half of bruising scrummages and mauls should have tired the weakened Cardiff pack, and Howarth should have bombarded Gareth Thomas. Alfie began the game fielding only one up and under which he did immaculately. From that point onwards he was rarely tested with Howarth preferring long raking kicks down field.

In return Cardiff decided to try to work it tight, taking on Newport's big back row. This tactic even continued after they had scored A 60 metre try, tearing apart Newport's weak back line! Alfie burst into the line at speed (which must be the only reason why he's playing full back) and neither Watkins nor the Tub-of-Lard had the speed to drift quickly enough. Mostyn was left standing as Alfie and Nobody descended on Daddy's boy in the Newport 22. A simple pass and Nobody got another try - and maintained his excellent tradition of ripping the p@ss out of the defence just before he scores!!

Cardiff then had to sit back in defence and rarely made it out their half again. But Newport's game plan was so one-dimensional. Even without Cardiff's best tackler, the home team kept Newport out the whole of the first half because they are so predictable. Their game plan was so robotic that Howley accredited his try to 'video analysis of Newport's game' and showed up the Tub-of-Lard's handling skills. Please, Henry, do not pick this man for Wales - looking for contact, dying with the ball in the tackle and interception passing are hardly the stuff of an international player! Newport relied on a forward to pick up and drive, but the ball was slow, tackles were made and the scrum half's passing and slow delivery from rucks make him a weak link.

Despite a lack of penetration in the back line, the possession was all with Newport and penalties followed in a stream. At half-time, the penalty count score was 10-4 in Newport's favour from the ever prudish Whitehouse. We all know her Victorian morals and she even gave a penalty for bad language - quite right too - well before the watershed. As thick and fast as her arm shot skyward, Howarth preceded to miss his kicks - including one that quite clearly passed between the posts. What do we have to do in Wales to see better officials on a Saturday? As for the rest of the Newport backs, there was a woeful lack of vision and teamwork. Howarth was ever inventive throwing long passes, short passes running with the ball in hand - constantly looking to make the gap. But as for his centres and wingers, they were unable to feed off his skills. Watkins ran predictably straight and hard but always seemed to look for contact and only off-loaded the ball in the tackle once all afternoon. Marinos was non existent and both wings were rooted to the touch line. Not one player had the speed to run outside his opposite number.

But to be too critical would do Cardiff's back line defence an injustice. Muller, Robinson and Alfie were a class above their opposition - they couldn't run through them, they lacked the pace to run around them and the visitors lacked the inventiveness to conjure any space from a defence excellently marshalled by Jenkins. Time and time again Rawalpindi ignored the overlap outside him and charged head first into a tackle by Alfie or Robinson. They didn't give an inch! Similarly, Walne made some frightening tackles on his opposite number and full back.

Meanwhile, the Bok and Ambers were always wary of the Welsh-XV-certainty Craig Morgan, who scored one his inevitable tries through some wonderful passing by Cardiff's back line (remember passing, Watkins and Marinos?).

The second half saw Jenkins control the game much better. Abandoning his short kicks offs, he and Howley kicked longer into the Newport 22 and encouraged the All Stars to attack from deep. Lacking the pace of the home team, time after time we saw the ball carrier take the tackle before passing, allowing an easy target for the Cardiff defence. Nick Walne was to the fore here and hammered a couple of visitors into next season. Faced with this onslaught, Pini's confidence visibly evaporated - he Iooked out of it, had little confidence in his team mates and sadly lacked match practice. That's what happens when a classy player spends too long at a lower level of rugby. He will not be this bad on Boxing Day ........

Instead of Buxton taking the ball from the scrum half and charging out of his 22 from kick offs, Howarth started to run the ball. When Buxton did knock on from a simple pass Jenkins kicked three points from the ensuing penalty.

As the visitors continued to try to attack through the centre, and as the Cardiff tackles rained down mercilessly on an increasingly clueless and battered centre partnership the ball slipped loose. A kick ahead and suddenly Newport were on the back foot. Panic ensued as thunderous, kidney puncturing tackles speared into Newport backs and caught like frightened rabbits in the headlights, they conceded the inevitable penalties. If Newport did make it out of their half the move broke down, a penalty was conceded and the Metronome would add three points.

Forster scored a try which briefly led to a Newport comeback, but they soon gave away three penalties as they lost control of the ball in contact and were nine points further behind. Then it was down to Newport barging at the defence in the last 10 minutes - unable to create space and quickly running out of ideas.

Cardiff's defence was awesome. They were quick to retire 10 metres at each of the many penalties Newport were awarded and did not have a player sin binned - which could be vital after the farcical 2 point deduction rule. There is real steel in this team - highlighted by Paul Jones (all 6 stone of him) tackling Snow, Rawalpindi and other head-down-and drive-merchants.

It must be well known amongst rugby players the game's cushiest job is a Newport winger as you'll get paid a fortune and never touch the ball. lndeed, the left wing was replaced in the second half after falling asleep in his own 22. Sure these guys shine against Ebbw Vale, but Newport's big game tactics, as they showed against Swansea, are to blast holes in the opposition midfield, rather than to create space. But up against a mid field that can tackle, and these testosterone tactics floundered.

As the second half wore on, it was clear that despite all the possession and shading the territorial advantage, and despite the invention of Howarth at stand off, Newport simply lacked the spark to puncture Cardiff's awesome defensive alignment. The Rawalpindi express came of the rails and Watkins direct charges became too predictable.

Having money does not make you a professional and Newport need to learn this. Their game plan is dull, monotonous and predictable based on rugby league with no vision. Howarth is a superb outside half and tries to break defences with well times passes, but his supporting runners need to look for space and support rather than always dying with the ball in contact. Not once did they bring the full back or blind side wing into the line as the distribution of their centre is awful and they are always trying to bully their way through a match. This may work at Rodney Parade against dispirited or weaker teams, but two losses away from home against Llanelli and Cardiff show that their game plan needs to be expanded. Arsenal.

As for the home team, at the scrum, Cardiff looked very weak. What is Charlie thinking now? How the mightily have fallen! What was indestructible only a year ago, is now falling apart on a weekly basis. Spencer did his Wales chances no good at all with a display of stunning mediocrity. In the scrum he spent more time staring at the sky under pressure from first Garvey and then Garvey's replacement. With ball in hand, he was anonymous.

There was a clear similarity with the game at Stradey last year - clearly outplayed in the scrum and up against a team who were far more inventive in the lineout. Similarly, other than in the final 10 minutes we lacked a back row who could win us enough turnovers and most importantly of all we lacked an effective ball carrier in the back row who could break the tackles. Our best chance was to run around the defence instead of through them.

However, the spirit of the team is now a real force and from 1 to 15 they looked so much more confidence and determined - even if the ball was with the opposition for 70% of the time, There was wonderful commitment and passion and a steely determination to stop Newport from getting a try at the end of the game.

Whilst there were some clear weaknesses in the front and back row, there was some ruthless, passionate defence on show. Whilst some unit skills were weak, individuals performance with real grit determination and pride in the jersey.

True professionalism from the Blue Blacks won the day - passion for the jersey, grit and determination matched with the vision to make the most of the few opportunities that came their way. Well done the bois! If we play with this sort of commitment week in week our, we need fear no one! Bring on Toulouse!

15
Gareth Thomas
8
/10
A wonderful break led to Morgan's try and he was so sound in defence that after swallowing one up and under from Howarth he was never asked to catch another. His transition to centre was a bonus for Cardiff as his big hits accounted for the tub of lard. Solid at full back his burst into the line made the Cardiff try. He seems to b getting better by the game, though when playing at centre he came more into the game following Muller's retirement Kicked well from hand and looks as potent as ever with ball in hand.
14
Nick Walne
8
/10
"ride 'em cowboy!" Rawalpindi and Apron both felt the power of the monster winger as he crushed them in the tackle. His game was a microcosm of the Cardiff performance - Awesome , frightening power in the tackle and a real presence in defence. Gruesome determination totally undermined the confidence of the Newport backline - Apron in particular.
13
Jamie Robinson
8
/10
A lovely pass to Alfie set up the try but it was his defence that was outstanding. He had too much pace for Lard and Watkins they could go neither through him nor round him. Solid and dependable. At the rate he's maturing will surely go from Jamie to Jim and who knows, even Jim?
12
Pieter Muller
6
/10
A quiet game until going off injured - perhaps he brought the injury into the game?
11
Craig Morgan
10
/10
Everything he does turns to gold. When scoring his try he had to slow down to Alfie's pace in order to take the pass. Now kicking for touch from the outside half position better than Jenkins. He even caught a high ball! Chased everything and hard and totally outplayed his Irish international opposite number. The man is worth the entrance fee alone! Is there anything he can't do? When Mostyn handed him off he was quick enough to catch him up and ankle tap him from a standing start. He must play the Mickey Mouse Internationals this year.
10
Neil Jenkins
7
/10
World class penalty kicking again from the man with only two missed all season (Statto?). Showed good vision in this tactical kicking and marshalled his defence well. Worrying missed touch kicks at crucial times and some slopping kicks offs showed real uncertainly and a lack of confidence with ball in hand. His tackling is now of the Adrian Davies proportions - grab the ball and hope somebody else takes his legs - but he did marshall his troops well. Will still improve further.
9
Robert Howley
9
/10
n excellent performance of pace, vision and inventiveness. Used those box kicks well though their accuracy was sometimes a little wayward. His defence around ruck and mauls was outstanding. His positional play ruined Howarth's set moves - got one try and was unlucky not to get another.
8
Owain Williams
8
/10
Performed much better at 8, which is clearly his best position. Here he didn't have to make too many head on tackles but he stole the ball in many rucks and mauls and was very visible throughout the game. Pinched well and fought hard in the loose. Finished the game strongly (again) with some key turnovers at rucks. Lacked determination at kick offs.
7
Martyn Williams
5
/10
He seemed to be negated by Forster, and vice versa. Missed a couple of head on tackles against the best back row man on the day - Buxton - and the Tub of Lard, showing that he needs to work on his strength. A shadow of the player he was last season . Still suffering from illness?
6
Greg Kacala
5
/10
Not the player he was. Can't break the tackles that he used to Off the pace. He is still able to make strong wrap around tackles but he is no longer a threat with the ball in hand. Again he gave away too many penalties at the ruck but all round his tackling was sound. Still not match fit and needs more games under his belt?
5
John Tait
7
/10
His scrummaging weaknesses were highlighted but was excellent in the lineout. Good to see Cardiff contesting the opposition throw (at last)! Made some telling tackles in defence. Was always there when it mattered. but his work in the loose when defending at centre or outside half shows his versatility.
4
Steve Moore
8
/10
Some good driving play in the tight - really got amongst the 'Port mauls. If only all Cardiff's forwards could maul like this man! He tried to get Cardiff's game going, but he is alone in this facet of play. He's Cardiff's nuts and bolts player- never flashy but always doing the right things.
3
Gary Powell
5
/10
Found this game a little more hard going than Edinburgh as he suffered badly against Snow in the scrum. Still very strong in defence and made some impressive hits - call us old fashioned, but first and foremost a prop has to prop in the scrum. The rest is a bonus. Still clearly a player for the future who will benefit from playing against class opposition. Perhaps it would have been better for him and Spencer to swap sides?
2
Andrew Lewis
7
/10
Taken apart whilst hooking at the scrum, Cardiff failed to get the backs the fast ball that they needed and looked like they could score from - even from first phase. When Gerraghty came on for Powell, ALP moved to prop and the front row looked so much tighter. He came into his own when he moved to his natural position of prop. The man is a prop - let him play there ! Awesome tackling in the loose - popping up to make some big tackles around the rucks and mauls - he was never too far away from the ball. Throwing in seemed no problems.
1
Spencer John
6
/10
Cumbersome but looked so much more at home on the tight head in the scrum. Poor performance. Made no impact anywhere - in the scrum , in loose play or with ball in hand.