Glasgow

k.o. time: 7:00 pm

29 September, 2000

Hughenden

Spectators: 3,500

Cardiff
referee
Patrick Thomas
7
/10
Consistent, if a little pedantic. Didn't try to make the game flow, but made sure we got 95 minutes of rugby!
weather
Cool, with one sharp shower from a clear night
worth annoying the wife factor
1
/10
our man of the match
Dan Baugh
scorers
Robert Howley (1)
Nick Walne (1)
Neil Jenkins (2)
Neil Jenkins (4)

A poorly motivated shabby performance by a team working to rule - each player performing to the minimum required of him and determined to do little else. The players sloped onto the pitch with a grim look on their faces and after the final whistle, left with the same expression. The 80 minutes in between seemed to have been an inconvenience for them.

Typically sloppy, the kick off bounced through a group of statues all looking at each other and skidded off to touch. This set the tone for the game which was all about not getting injured before next week. From the ensuing attack, the well motivated and well organized Glasgow forwards began their assault on the Cardiff line. With Cook Island international Tommy Smith always there to hoof the ball many a mile, the Reds were guaranteed yardage every time they had the ball. Much more comfortable putting boot to leather, Smith played off the touch kicks and kicked the penalties with ease. At Super 12 level, it would be deemed foolish to kick the ball away needlessly to the opposition, but this game was full of such tactics.

Faced with an onslaught of frantic rucking, Cardiff quickly found themselves outnumbered at each breakdown. At the critical moment, they chose to give away the professional foul rather than compete legitimately as a unit for the ball. Quite how they got away with this until Craig Morgan's dismissal for shirt pulling, only the French referee can explain.

With deep kicks raining in from Smith, the strain told on Cardiff's woefully under performing lineout. Humph - marking his 100 appearance for the club and also wearing the captain's arm band - had an absolute shocker. His throwing in was diabolical. The turnovers followed but he was too proud to write it off as a bad day and pass the ball to Alp. But for excellent one up tackles by the Cardiff defensive line, they would have had a hiding.

When the visitors did get the ball in hand, their performance was clueless. This was best exemplified by the tactical harakiri of the last 10 minutes. Despite being behind, their only tactic was for Jenkins to kick long and allow the Scots to run the ball back at them. Whether from a subsequent lineout deep in the Cardiff 22, or from yet another poorly supported breakdown, penalties flowed in just enough number to allow the Scots to win the game.

When in possession, Cardiff did nothing throughout the entire 95 minutes (the referee must have added 15 minutes of misery to proceedings following a string of injuries from the Scots aimed at slowing the game down, and a string of contact lens mishaps from Humph). Cardiff's entire game plan seemed to be to give the ball to Glasgow and try to pressurize them into making mistakes! Well we expect more from that back line, Lyn Howells! It may work against a clueless Ponty or a brainless Newport looking for contact, but the Scots were always looking to move the ball in the tackle, always looking for looped runs in attack and always looking for Metcalfe's pace on the outside.

If the difference between winners and losers is that winners make things happen and losers let things happen, then losers Cardiff were certainly very guilty of trying to free wheel their way through this game. Understandably, Rhys Williams and Craig Quinnell were tentative in their approach, but the rest of the team had no excuse. Indeed it was only the excellent Baugh and the eager Howley who really looked determined to force a win from this shabby performance.

If the VC's staring lineout (minus Howley who joined the fray in the last quarter) reflected his plans for next week, then he needs to work on his motivational skills. Furthermore, some of the tactics were completely unfathomable. Narrow side box kicks seemed to be the only real weapon on show. Kacala and John had one or two charges, but the back movement was very lateral with no one - other than Don and some successful sniping by Ryan Powell - able to break the gain line.

The first half was a terrible stop-star affair, liberally sprinkled with a ward full of medical attention and pedantic refereeing. Neither side imposed themselves on the game, though Glasgow looked the hungrier and as least tried to do something with the ball.

With a slewing scrum and desperate throwing in at the lineout, Cardiff spent much of the first 30 minutes in defence - rarely making it to the home team's half. The Reds' try came from some concentrated pressure - ruck-based, fast ball and some excellent passing in the tackle. It was simple stuff but executed efficiently against a lazy defence and a team lacking in positive attacking intent.

However, when called upon to do so, Cardiff were able to raise their game and play at a pace the Scots were unable to live with. From one of these five minute spells, Nick Walne showed some good soccer skills to score close to the posts as a bemused Metcalfe watched on.

The second half continued much in the same vein, though following Morgan's departure for one of the many professional fowls employed by the visitors, Glasgow were able to find an overlap and score out on the right following some excellent handling, keeping the ball alive and passing before contact.

But back came Cardiff on one of their five minute bursts. And Howley - literally seconds after joining the game - darted round the blind side of a maul to score virtually unopposed in the corner. The points machine kicked another exemplary conversion from the touch line.

Cardiff were ahead for the first time as we entered the final quarter. But the visitors once more slumped into mediocrity and stuck to negative spoiling tactics - Humph and Voyle needlessly pulling down mauls, Humph killing the ball in the tackle, aimless long drop outs from Jenkins - instead of doing something inventive and creative with the little possession they had.

In short, they didn't deserve to win.

Hopefully, Friday night was only a question of the coach's failure to get the minds of his troops focussed on the game and not on the forthcoming trip to Ulster. You'd think with a squad as big and strong as Cardiff's, that players would be playing for their places for the game in Belfast, but on Friday's performance, evidently that is not so.

Somebody needs to remind the players of their obligations to their supporters. Getting beaten by a better team is one thing, but failing to play at your best through a lack of effort is another. Whether the players made as much effort as the away supporters did in getting to Glasgow for the game is something they should consider deeply.

At forward, it's difficult to see any progress we're making this season in terms of unit skills. Whilst individual fitness and tackling is clearly reaching new heights, players seem quick to infringe rather than put in the hard graft to win the ball cleanly at the tackle point, or drive the opposition maul back in a legal fashion.

The lineout simply is not functioning this season, and we can only hope that Craig Quinnell's bulk at the front will give us some guaranteed ball in pressure situations.

As for the scrum, well even with what in theory should have been our strongest front row (given the absence of Dai) against Glasgow, they still found themselves staring skywards a little too often, rather than driving the opposition backwards.

There is also a worrying lack of inventiveness and sign play from first phase (lineout variations other than the shuffle and tap, use of the blind side winger, bringing big men onto the ball at pace etc.), and although we can hope that the VC has something up his sleeve for the European games, its dangerous to enter our key month of the season without having tried something in a match situation.

Let's hope the VC put a nuclear bomb in their kit bags after that lethargic disaster. We can't afford something like that next week otherwise we'll end up losing all our group games! Fundamentally speaking it's with some trepidation that we make our way to Belfast on Friday, with memories of Clement Ferrand still fresh in our minds.

Come on the bois! Self belief and application married to the undoubted skills you have can win us through this group phase, but a good start is essential!

15
Gethin Rhys Williams
6
/10
Typical first game back after injury. Did as little as possible and was very conservative in counter attack and attack (he didn't!). Error free in defence - strong and fearless under the high ball, and kicked well from hand. Clearly outclassed by Glen Metcalfe on the night, himself in only his second game back following injury.
14
Nick Walne
7
/10
Took his try extremely well. Concentrating hard on his own individual skills, but still linking poorly with the rest of the team. Under used.
13
Jamie Robinson
7
/10
Resolute in defence, didn't get the ball in open play to shine.
12
Pieter Muller
6
/10
Worryingly allowed the Scots to off load in the tackle a little too often by allowing them that extra yard in attack. Nevertheless, looks to have shed some weight and looking fitter.
11
Craig Morgan
5
/10
So the try feast has come to an end! Struggled in defence with Metcalfe at his best - he lost his man a little too often resulting in a yellow card. Come on Craig! Show us you can play outside your valley!
10
Neil Jenkins
6
/10
Another wonderful kicking performance, he can hardly be faulted for missing that last minute penalty which was clearly out of this range. Just why Humph didn't opt to kick for the corner and a 5 yard lineout only he knows. Jinx now simply does not tackle in defence at all. Can Cardiff (let alone Wales ) carry a player who refuses to tackle below the waste? Come on Jinx! We've already got Owain, we can't afford another!
9
Ryan Powell
4
/10
Had a bit of a shocker. Has the pace and power to make it at this grade, but his indecision spread throughout the team. Failed to move the ball away from the breakdown quickly enough and did not provide pivotal guidance for his pack (a scrum half should be the eyes and ears of the maul and ruck).
8
Owain Williams
6
/10
Typical Owain performance. Good in the loose, pinching a lot of ball around the ruck and maul, but no tackling! One of the few talkers in the pack. Congratulations on your 100th game, Owain.
7
Dan Baugh
8
/10
Plays just the same away from home as he does at CAP. Some truly earth shattering tackles and carried the ball further than any other Cardiff forward. All this with a broken hand???
6
Greg Kacala
5
/10
Another anonymous performance from the man who seems to be just playing out his contract. No sign of that hunger of old - no sign of the player who goaded the locals at Sardis when he played there the first time for Cardiff. Somebody get this man motivated!!!
5
John Tait
5
/10
Injured. Shoulder injury didn't look good. Extremely poor co-ordination with Humph in the lineout and pretty anonymous around the pitch. The scrum rocked too often as well.
4
Mike Voyle
4
/10
Lobotomized play from the penalty provider. Why, oh why, pull the maul down 20 yards from the line when you're winning the game with a minute to go? No yardage with ball in hand, scrum creaking and poor coordination with Humph. Do these guys practice (and think)?
3
Spencer John
4
/10
After the glory of last week, no GH and no Uncle Peter this week, and the man's performance plummeted. Couldn't be @rsed. Poorly motivated. Missed tackles and was nowhere in the tight. All mouth and no trousers.
2
Jon Humphreys
2
/10
Had a total shocker. It may have been his 100th game for Cardiff, but it was probably his worst. Woeful throwing in at the lineout, crass penalty concede through giving the referee some verbal. Totally frustrated with his play, the pack's play and the team's play. Not a happy bunny. Will he stay at Cardiff when he's so obviously p@ssed off with the way the squad's being run?
1
Andrew Lewis
5
/10
Content to tackle and scrummage which he did to good effect. No yardage with ball in hand, no extra work in the loose. Looked far from happy at being picked at prop. On his way to Bath, in this frame of mind.