Cardiff

k.o. time: 5:35 pm

14 October, 2000

BT Sport Cardiff Arms Park

Spectators: 9,838

Toulouse
referee
David McHugh
2
/10
Well intentioned, quite simply his game was peppered with incorrect interpretations, myopic errors and infuriating intrusions. Back to the drawing board, David.
weather
Dry for 40 minutes then drizzle
worth annoying the wife factor
7
/10
our man of the match
Dan Baugh
scorers
Gareth Thomas (1)
Neil Jenkins (1)
Neil Jenkins (2)
Neil Jenkins (3)
Neil Jenkins (1)

A well deserved victory for Cardiff again built on excellent defensive organization and commitment and the ability to make the most of limited attacking opportunities. Whilst our backs still look capable of scoring from anywhere on the pitch, our forward set piece play is sinking to new depths - we may have won only 12 of our 20 lineouts in Ulster, but against Toulouse, we managed to secure possession from only 50% of our lineouts.

The first shock of the evening was not Alfie on the wing, but the absence of Craig Morgan. An explanation has escaped us so far, but perhaps the fact that Jamie Robinson played with number eighteen on his back suggests that Morgan was perhaps injured during the warm up? Certainly, there were a number of occasions in the first half when the left wingers support play on the outside would have undoubtedly increased Cardiff's likelihood of scoring even more tries.

The game started with both teams clearly worried more about the opposition than about having a go themselves. It was slow paced and lacking passion - blame the crowd for not inspiring the boys to greater things, or blame the players for not getting stuck in. Only Quinnell and Baugh seemed to be seriously pumped up before the start. Face it bois, we're not interested in the Village League - what we want is success in Europe. You can't expect us to get excited about beating Ebbw Vale, Cross Keys and Caerphilly! We want to go into Xmas knowing that there's a chance of us going on to qualify from the group! Where's the passion? Alfie, clearly out of position on the wing, summed up this tentative start as he watched the ball dribble over the line at his feet in the first few minutes of the game. There was little positive intent there!

As for Toulouse, they semed the first to come out of their shells and play with positive intent. Garbagetosser started the game running the ball back at Cardiff and made Nick Walne look a little silly on one occasion as he waltzed around the big man. As the home team realized that Toulouse had come to play positive rugby instead of the kick and chase favoured by Cardiff away from home, it seemed to inspire them into some action.

Howley put in a high punt and chased hard and won the advantage. Jenkins did likewise and Garbagetosser amazingly ran straight at him, eventually conceding a penalty for Jenkins' first three points.

Whilst the Cardiff half backs were indeed playing positively, there was still a lethargy about the pack (other than Baugh, of course). From the ensuing kick off, Emyr loped forward and took the tackle making no attempt to make the yards.

Alfie had his biggest impact on the game when playing at outside outside centre - when Cardiff used three centres they looked very dangerous and when a man as big as Alfie is running at pace at you, the gaps appear.

Garbagetosser once more came into the game when blatantly taking Rhys Williams out in the air with his knees following one of the many up and unders that peppered the game. However the referee was more intent on warning Cardiff protesters than the Frenchman. This was a performance from the man in green in which he consistently missed the point throughout the afternoon. Unfortunately, it was not just the point he missed - he missed gouging, punching, stamping, knock ons, forward passes, obstruction etc. etc. When he studies the video, he'll see just how many times he made an incorrect decision. Let's hope such a miserable performance will not go unnoticed by the referees assessor.

At the lineout, Toulouse chose the catch and drive as their preferred option - looking to capitalise on Cardiff's well known weakness. However, they failed to combat the home side's high tech defence(!) of pulling the ball career to the floor as soon as he had the ball in his hands. Now that was difficult, wasn't it? We can be thankful that McGoo let us get away with that, but quickly slipping the ball to another player would mean Cardiff were collapsing a rolling maul. Can't believe Saracens won't have the brain to fathom that out! It might have worked against some boneheads from the south of France, but those London boys are a bit smarter, Lyn. The best way to stop a rolling maul is for two or three players to bind and drive in low on the ball carrier and put in some hard graft - get to work, Cardiff, you're going to need it at Watford!

In the back line, the wonderful Jamie Robinson had far too much pace for Stensness and Ougier. Muller bulldozed his way through to the ball carrier on the tight stuff and Robinson had the pace to stop attacks out wide. Cardiff's defence looked rock solid in midfield. Muller and Robinson look like a class act which is bad news for Alfie. However, something that Gareth Thomas does very well is to go looking for work. He's not afraid to move in field or take the ball in the centre - something that Walne simply doesn't do. And with a lack of ball carriers who can make an impact in the Cardiff back row (other than Don, of course), using Walne at pace close the breakdown must surely be an option.

Whilst Garin Jenkins was yellow carded (and rightly so) for trying to slow the game down by stopping a quick tap penalty against Stade Francais, McGoo saw nothing wrong with the French doing the same thing against Howley as he tried hard to inject some pace into the game.

Cardiff defence is now quite awesome. This is down to excellent organizational skills, total commitment to downing your opposite man and disciple - discipline to not give penalties away for offside. Training sessions with those Rugby League boys really seem to have paid off as Toulouse were confronted time and time again by a committed blue and black wall of defenders. Even from kicks, Cardiff's discipline in following up in a line won them numerous turnovers. And once more that man Dan Baugh was at the centre of things with some thunderous tackles and bullocking runs. Quite what he has to do to get man of the match is beyond us.

From what seemed like an innocuous ruck on Cardiff's 22m line, Jenkins spotted that Marfaing was way too deep expecting a kick. A beautiful floated pass to Walne allowed the big man to pick up pace and charge through into space. He turned Marfaing first left and then right and did him all ends up. As we forecast, Marfaing was the key man and so it proved. Despite yet another example of violent play from Garbagetosser as he elbowed Walne in the head in what passed for a tackle, Humph was almost Allan Philipsesque in support and took a difficult pass, changed the angle of his run excellently and fed Jenkins who crossed under the post. A wonderful try - that was Cardiff rugby!

Cardiff were 13-0 up after 20 minutes and despite the lineouts being a shambles and the scrums a lottery, we began to realize that this was a poor Toulouse side - the night would be ours!!

Following the kick off another Cardiff scrum saw the ball shoot out uncontrolled by Emyr Lewis and a charged down kick led to 7 minutes of frantic defence on the Cardiff line. Excellent work by Spencer John and Dan Baugh saw Cardiff fight off concerted forward drives. A string of penalties from McGoo from Cardiff's weakening scrum gave Toulouse a steady stream of possession but the Frenchmen couldn't cross the home team's line. Marfaing was forced to kick the penalty as Toulouse muscle found no way through.

But Cardiff hit back with pace and power and another wonderfully executed Alfie-Robinson combination saw the big man through again. Top class support from Baugh, Alp and Humph almost put Rhys Williams in the corner. Toulouse infringed and the thirteen point margin was maintained. Back came Toulouse but once more excellent discipline from the Cardiff defence and there was no way through. Don gave away a penalty but Marfaing (still smarting from humiliation at the hands of Nick Walne) fluffed a simple kick at goal.

From the following drop out, Jenkins kicked long and once more disciplined pressure from the Blue Blacks - who were strung out in a line across the pitch pressurizing the Toulouse ball carriers- led to a French error. Then we were treated to one of the best kicks from hand ever seen at CAP. Jenkins screwed the ball to within five metres of the line from a position of no more than 7 metres from the touch line on he half way line. A world class kick! What a lift that must have been for the pack.

However, somewhat inevitably, despite securing possession from the subsequent lineout, the Cardiff maul saw awful body positions and no drive came through. More practice!!!!!!! From the Toulouse break out, Cardiff found themselves defending on their own line and with Voyle the only option in the lineout, Toulouse took the ball and pressurized hard again. Fortunately, the woeful Delaigue missed a simple drop goal and Garbagetosser proved that he was also equally inept with another disaster.

As the half drew to a close, the full back incurred the wrath of the ref again as he slid in, knees first, into Don's kidneys even though the player was already in touch. Not bad eh? Knees in mid air into Rhys Williams, elbow into the head of Walne, knees into Don's kidneys and the ref lets him off with a telling off. What a wimp! Let's hope the ref for the away fixture in France has all the male organs he needs for reproduction. Cardiff finally decided to use Quinnell as the half came to a close and following a typically inspirational charge by Baugh, Jenkins increased Cardiff's lead with a drop goal to lead Cardiff into half time 19-3 up.

At half time we reflected on the wonderful defence - coached by John Kear - the breathtaking attacking skills of our back line - coached by Geraint John - and the woeful scrums, lineouts and kick offs - coached by Lyn Howells.

The second half started with the same pace and intensity of the first as Dan Baugh screamed onto a pass from Howley and weaved his way through a mesmerized Toulouse defence making yards up the centre of the pitch. Once more, as ever, Humph was first on hand to support and continued the drive.

By this stage the French new that the game was lost and reverted to type. Califano threw two punches against a defenseless Quinnell right in front of the myopic touch judge, Tournaire decided to go tap dancing on somebody's head and the sub with nineteen on his jersey decided to try to take Martyn Williams' head off with his elbow. Fortunately, number 19 spent 10 minutes in the bin.

Instead of concentrating on securing steady possession by using Quinnell at the front of the lineout, Cardiff persisted with the Morris Dancing. When they finally did use Fester, a simple up and under from Jenkins created havoc in the visitor's ranks and Alfie ran through to score. Simple.

Then came the turning point. The VC subbed Dan Baugh for Fyvie and the initiative Cardiff had was lost. Tries seem certain to count in this competition, and at 27-3 up, Cardiff should have gone for the kill and pushed on for 50. Instead they sat back, looked lethargic, reverted to a Glasgow-Ulster type performance, and conceded two soft tries. With us all worrying about Harlequins all over again, the game fizzled out into a disappointment. Toulouse peppered the nervous Rhys Williams with kicks and waited for the lineouts. With 15 minutes to go, the VC took off Quinnell from a defensive scrum and replaced him with Kacala. Shortly afterwards, with Kacala AWOL, there was no one at the back of the ruck to cover, and the French waltzed through for a gift. Fyvie defended hard and Howley had another excellent snip at the line which Walne just failed to score.

Toulouse scored two tries at the end and within six minutes the score had gone from 26-3 to 26-17. In the Village league, teams will roll over in the last twenty minutes (as against Edinburgh) but at this level, it simply doesn't happen. You have to be prepared to play for 90 minutes (particularly if Ed Morrison's refereeing).

Set piece play at forward remains a complete disaster for the Blue Blacks. Quite how long Lyn Howells will stay in his job remains to be seen, though quite why Uncle Peter is waiting for us to get kicked out of Europe before taking action is bewildering. Considering the money he's spent on the club, you'd think that he'd see the obvious weakness in the team that just about all 10,000 people at yesterday's game could see. Our forwards coach simply isn't up to the job. His selection of Voyle as the only jumper in the lineout - Lewis and Quinnell were used once each during the whole game - is making it so easy for the opposition to read where the throw is going. As for the line dancing, well it's not getting any better and the players clearly haven't a clue what's going on.

We fared little better at the scrum either. Just about every scrum saw Humph soar skyward and the man must know his dreams of playing for Wales again are going nowhere when the Cardiff scrum is in such a mess. Coupled with our inability to keep a level scrum, Emyr Lewis' control at eight was pretty awful throughout the game. On two occasions he lost control which almost cost us tries, and when he did pick up and charge, there was none of the power that used to be there.

This game was all about Cardiff's excellent half backs and a wonderful defence. On the down side, it was also about a creaking scrum and a shambolic lineout which shows no signs of improvement - indeed it's getting worse. There is a key weakness in the Cardiff back row at number eight - key to the spine of the team and we've yet to see a commanding performance from that position all season. With all the hullabaloo before the game about Rita Podgers playing, the real weakness at the lineout and number 8 was missed. We must improve in these two areas if we are to compete on Saturday. But this was a poor Toulouse team, and come the away game in January, they'll have Ntamack, Penaud and Isitolo Maka to call on - expect fireworks!

Finally, and it may be an easy target, but it has to be said once more, Lord Buffoon on the PA is an embarrassment. Thanking Toulouse for coming to Cardiff in these days of professionalism is a joke. Thank you for elbowing Martyn Williams, Rhys Williams and Nick Walne. Thank you for gouging Humph's eyes. Thanks for your punch, Mr Califano. Thank you for your tap dancing Mr Tournaire. The man should be abolished, just like his piers. And absolutely no mention was made of supporting Cardiff in London on Saturday. "The next game will be Saracens on October 26th". No it won't! It will be on October 21st in Watford. Get a bus, get a train, get a plane, get a bicycle, walk ...... but get along to support your team! "You can buy tickets for the official supporters bus after the game", is what he should of said. When will Cardiff learn how to drum up support for the team? When will the board realize that the supporters pay their wages? When will we get a decent coach?

15
Gethin Rhys Williams
6
/10
Gradually doing more each week, but was nowhere in attack and looked shaky under the high ball. Kicked well from ball in hand, but didn't come into the line at all - from blind side or open side.
14
Nick Walne
6
/10
Showed what he's capable of when setting up Jenkins' try, but still stays isolated on his wing and doesn't look for work. Still underused.
13
Jamie Robinson
8
/10
Excellent performance in tandem with Muller. Missed two tackles by not burying the man once he's got hold of him, but has the pace, vision and timing of the pass to make it into Henry's first international of the winter.
12
Pieter Muller
8
/10
Frightened the life out of the French with his abrasive defence. Chased hard for the kicks and looked comfortable with ball in hand (other than one unforced error).
11
Gareth Thomas
8
/10
Popped up all over the pitch to make a real impact in attack. Forceful running and determination saw him pick up a well deserved - if lucky - try. When he plays on the wing, Cardiff have the advantage of three centres in attack which is very difficult to defence against. Made one excellent tackle against Tournere.
10
Neil Jenkins
8
/10
Wonderful kicking from the ginger monster. His best game for Cardiff so far. Tactically astute he took his chances when presented which proved to be the difference between the two teams. Still a little suspect when forced to tackle, but had the vision and timing of the pass to send Walne away on his run.
9
Robert Howley
8
/10
Man on a mission - give me that No 9 red jersey. No box kicks this week in complete contrast to last. Looked to inject real pace into the game and had an excellent eye for the space. Controlled the game very well with Jenkins. Chased and harassed his opposite number out of the game.
8
Emyr Lewis
5
/10
A load of bull from Tarw. No power when charging from the back of the scrum - no interest in taking the ball on the charge from the kick off - underused at the lineout. Needs to do a lot more to justify his place.
7
Martyn Williams
6
/10
Got in amongst the French in the tight, but this was not his sort of game. Martyn likes the fast open stuff, but this was tight and abrasive.
6
Dan Baugh
9
/10
One penalty short of a ten, how this man isn't captain nobody knows. When he left the field after 50 minutes, there was a visible dip in Cardiff's performance. Whether charging will ball in hand, or upending an attacking with a pile driving tackle, this man is a total inspiration to those around him. Sign him for life, Uncle Peter!
5
Mike Voyle
5
/10
Lacked the energy of last week's performance although that may have been because others around him played with more energy and he stayed the same! Scrum looks weak, and he's the only lineout jumper in the team! Difficult to fault him or Humph for the Morris dancing.
4
Craig Quinnell
5
/10
Underused in the lineout, lacked presence in the tight stuff, made only one charge with ball in hand. Come on Craig! We need you to do more than this! Cardiff must develop a game plan to allow this man to charge into the opposition outside half!
3
Spencer John
5
/10
Ineffective in the scrum, did some good work in the mauls but didn't take a pass all game.
2
Jon Humphreys
8
/10
As with Voyle, we have to discount the lineout shambles as they're playing under the VC's woefully poorly planned shambles. Support play was top class, plenty of limpet-like tackles and was always the first man to pick up the ball following a Dan Baugh charge.
1
Andrew Lewis
7
/10
Good tackling in the loose with Humph, good support play and seemed steady in the scrum where the weakness was at tight-head/hooker.