Swansea

k.o. time: 2:30 pm

4 November, 2000

St Helens

Spectators: 7,000

Cardiff
referee
Robert Davies
6
/10
With both sides there to play rugby the ref should have had an easy time. But he failed to make sure players stayed on their feet and frustrations grew. Took too long to bin Charvis and that hardly put a stop to the diving in! But on the whole, after last week's experience, it was good to have a referee who was prepared to let the game flow.
weather
Clear skies, a low sun and the usual Swansea "breeze"
worth annoying the wife factor
5
/10
our man of the match
Andrew Lewis
scorers
Paul Jones (1)
Craig Morgan (1)
Nick Walne (1)
Neil Jenkins (2)
Neil Jenkins (1)
our choice for next week

vs Scarlets

k.o. time: 5:30 pm

2 December, 2000

Cardiff Arms Park

15
Gethin Rhys Williams
14
Gareth Thomas
13
Jamie Robinson
12
Pieter Muller
11
Craig Morgan
10
Neil Jenkins
9
Robert Howley
8
Emyr Lewis
7
Martyn Williams
6
Dan Baugh
5
John Tait
4
Craig Quinnell
3
Dai Young
2
Jon Humphreys
1
Andrew Lewis

This was the first league game for over a month, and we're not going to see another for just under a month. What a shambles! And then we've got three in a week! This game was never going to be anything more than an anti-climax and so it proved. Even the normally vociferous Whites supporters were strangely muted. We all wanted to see more European games and instead we got the Village League.

Showing eight changes (one positional) from their last League fixture, Cardiff started without Howley and with Alfie at outside centre. And how they started! Within no time at all they were 13-0 down as the home team raced into a lead. Physically abrasive Swansea forwards tore into a passive Cardiff pack with the typical ferocity that we've come to expect from the Mighty Whites. However, the bigger and bulkier home players faded badly in the second half and when they should have been killing the game off, they ended up only one score ahead. The gap in fitness levels showed.

Cardiff's strength in this game was out wide, and once again the try machine was piling on the points - obviously not as good a wing as Alan "35" Bateman though, eh Graham? The man on top of his game was a real handful for Robinson and how Robinson manages to get in any Welsh squad is amazing. His obvious lack of playing experience is almost as much of a glaring weakness as his "nobody's-at-home" defensive skills. Still, the media seems to like him, and so Henry picks him. Forget Nick Walne's try scoring record against top class opposition and his defence of steel, let's pick "the shadow " instead!

Whilst the shear hard work of the Swansea pack out-muscled and out fought the Cardiff team for the ball, their backs could not match their forwards approach. Poor passing hampered the ability of Taylor to make a real impact and the fact that he scored two tries taking some awful passes speaks volumes for the man. Other than Jenkins, the passing of both back lines was of a pretty low level. When Cardiff did manage to draw the man and time the pass, they ripped past a pedestrian wing defence, whereas Swansea struggled to pass the ball along the line once throughout the whole game.

At fly half, we saw the contrasting kicking game of likkul Arwel against the passing game of Jenkins. Whilst much is made of Arwel's weakness in defence, no one would say that Jenkins' defence is any better, so that argument is pretty meaningless when the two players are compared. Either way, there'll be as many Samoans looking forward to battering into the number 10 as they'll be waiting for Scott to gift them a couple more tries! Thank goodness the nation of only 214,000 souls (much less than the population of Cardiff) will be sending their 'B' team this time - a sort of Wales vs Glamorgan Wanderers. Any money on the Wanderers? What dya reckon Hemi?

Arwel's astute tactical kicking should have helped his team bury the game in the second half, but the puffing and panting eight in front of him struggled for the same supremely that they had in the first half. Jenkins meanwhile, missed the kicks that Arwel didn't. Whilst his passing was top class and his perfect cross kick for Walne outstanding, his goal kicking cost us the game.

As Cardiff tried to attack out wide in the second half, the number of turnovers grew as the more determined Whites forced Cardiff off the ball at ruck after ruck. They were more often quicker to the breakdown and smarter to read the ref's interpretations of Law 21. As the white jersey's lay strewn around the floor, late additions to the rucks wearing blue jerseys did some belated mountaineering.

The scrum continues to creak and snap and even with the addition of Rita, little has changed. When the VC finally realized that tactics were not a small mint but something you need to win a rugby match, he was finally substituted with Humph. Then we saw some improvement. Then it was Swansea retreating in the scrum, but the transformation came too late to give Cardiff any real chance of victory.

But it was at centre that the substitution really should have come much early. Alfie is going through a shocking patch at the moment and looked dangerous with the ball in hand - dangerous for us that is, as his indecisiveness caused nightmares for those around him. When all we needed was a timed pass to our wingers who were streets ahead of their opponents he dithered ... and kicked when he should have passed ... and passed when he should have kicked. What he really needs to regain his confidence is to play on the wing again and run in some tries. There was a desperate need to bring Rayer on much earlier than he was introduced, and as a result the opportunity was missed. Looks like the VC couldn't get an answer from GH's mobile again!

The second half saw Swansea rarely making any impression on the Cardiff defence other than Taylor's key try as he burst through some feeble tackling from Muller and the out-of-sorts Alfie. This was the nail in the coffin as then Cardiff needed two tries with minutes to go.

There was much to appreciate in this loss however. At last our kick offs are starting to function correctly and in this phase of play we totally outclassed Swansea. In the lineouts there's been a huge change. Gone is all the Morris dancing and now we're even competing on opposition throws! Credit to the VC for finally realizing what crazy ideas he was forcing on the players! Alp's throwing in was accurate and his athleticism and speed is at a level way above Grandad "huffin and puffin" Jenkins. But, much as expected, Henry ignores form players and picks on his prejudices. It's a well established fact in Wales that it's much easier to retain your position than to regain your position in the starting lineup.

What more Alp could have done this season in order to get a game in the starting lineup on Saturday?

We know that the pinnacle of the Welsh game is supposed to be the red jersey, but when the national coach chooses two players in the forwards who's only success on the pitch this season has been against Cross Keys, you really begin to lose interest! Alp has out-scrummaged a British Lions prop, been as fast around the pitch as our back row, tackled with all the relish of Dan Baugh and throws in as good as any hooker in the country. What more can he do?

15
Gethin Rhys Williams
6
/10
Hardly in the game. Came looking for work as the game slipped away from Cardiff, but didn't see him coming into the line. Still good enough for Henry, though.
14
Paul Jones
6
/10
Sprinted to the corner for his try but looked very suspect in defence. Lacks a physical presence. Let's hope he makes a recovery as speedily as he took his try.
13
Gareth Thomas
4
/10
How the mighty have fallen! He may have been a great player, CJS, but frankly he's now a lumbering joke. His decision making - always suspect - has gone altogether. Now he can't even time a pass properly! All the positional messing about has ruined a top class player. Well done VC! You've wrecked Cardiff's (and Wales'!) most potent try scorer.
12
Pieter Muller
5
/10
Had a 'mare of a game! His passing was woeful and his defence abysmal. Hardly laid a finger on Taylor for the killer try. His worst game for the club in his first game as captain (good decision there, VC!).
11
Craig Morgan
8
/10
The try machine, broke the gain line every time he got the ball. Showed the fans what attacking power we would have had if he'd been in the teams against Sarries. Still not as good as likkul Shane - allegedly.
10
Neil Jenkins
6
/10
Played himself out of the reckoning for a Welsh place. A mixture of the very excellent (the cross field kick for Walne's try), the woeful (nine missed points from simple penalties) and the inept (targeted heavily by the Swansea forwards, they never failed to break the game line when running through his feeble tackling).
9
Ryan Powell
4
/10
Passes with the power of a milk float going up hill. Has the decision making speed of Alfie and his jittery passing slowed down every attack. Double movement on his passing is surely a technical flaw which should be coached out of him.
8
Emyr Lewis
8
/10
Battled well in the loose. One of the few forwards to meet fire with fire - looked like he believed we could win and wanted to win.
7
Martyn Williams
8
/10
Another who won a lot of loose ball (a la Owain). High tackle count though little charges with ball in hand. Spent the whole game in a 1 vs 4 situation at the ruck!
6
Wayne Fyvie
5
/10
is crocked. Very disappointing. As long as he doesn't have to run 10m for the next breakdown, he's OK. Anything further, and he's last there.
5
John Tait
5
/10
The lack of match practice showed. Off the (slow) pace. Body angles in contact cruelly exposed by a better coached and better drilled swarming Swansea pack.
4
Craig Quinnell
7
/10
Worked hard around the pitch - much more visible than James Grifffiths. Had a few charges with ball in hand - but a lack of cohesion in the scrum.
3
Spencer John
7
/10
Worked hard at ball carrying but hardly broke a tackle all game. Spent most of his time running across the pitch. Looked so much fitter than his lardy opponent, reflecting the obvious contrasting styles. Nevertheless, once more went backwards in the scrums. Shouldn't a prop first be able to scrummage and then be able to play centre?
2
Andrew Lewis
9
/10
Wonderful game (again) from the one man dynamo. Only player in the pack who really met the physical challenge head on. How can you not pick this player in your team, Henry? Threw better than Humph or Jenkins, is yards faster than either and had a huge tackle count. Easiest m.o.m. of the season!
1
Peter Rogers
3
/10
is here for the money. Looked very fit, but the Cardiff scrummage looks weak whoever plays. That'll be the coach then! Work rate? What work rate?