Scarlets

k.o. time: 5:30 pm

20 October, 2001

Stradey Park

Spectators: 6,500

Cardiff
referee
Nigel Whitehouse
5
/10
Another whistle happy performance from a Welsh referee. In direct contrast to the game at Lansdowne Road, he forced players to immediately release the ball in the tackle which often led to penalties, turnovers or just a stop to free flowing rugby. Too easily swayed by amateur touch judges, and missed the assault on Tait.
weather
Dry but, as the game was in October, all the mosquitos were gone.
worth annoying the wife factor
5
/10
our man of the match
Jamie Robinson
scorers
Gethin Rhys Williams (1)
Semo Sititi (1)
Nicky Robinson (1)
Iestyn Harris (2)
Nicky Robinson (1)
Iestyn Harris (1)
our choice for next week

vs Glasgow

k.o. time: 3:00 pm

27 October, 2001

Cardiff Arms Park

15
Gethin Rhys Williams
14
Andrew Henry
13
Jamie Robinson
12
Pieter Muller
11
Anthony Sullivan
10
Iestyn Harris
9
Robert Howley
8
Emyr Lewis
7
Rob Appleyard
6
Greg Kacala
5
Adam Jones
4
Craig Quinnell
3
Dai Young
2
Greg Woods
1
Spencer John

Cardiff threw away the chance of victory with an undisciplined and lethargic first half performance. Despite outscoring the infidel by three tries to one, rank indiscipline and poor selection left them trying to play catch up rugby in the last quarter. Poor place kicking - contrasting with the 100% performance by the home team - saw them go down in a game they should have won. It'll probably take until the end of the season before we see exactly how crucial this missed opportunity was.

Yet another dismal performance away from home left us questioning why a short bus journey down the M4 should suddenly rid the players of the enthusiasm with which they tackle home games. Despite the best efforts of Big Al as Chief Cheerleader and the Cardiff fans in general, in the first half there was more effort on the terraces than on the pitch.

Cardiff simply didn't turn up.

A quite abysmal forward pack conceded a dozen penalties. Whilst key players didn't perform on the day, Joubert must take some blame as the line out disintegrated and the scrum faired little better. His injudicious use of substitutes also calls into questions his reading of the game - seemingly pre-planned replacements are pointless! Although Cardiff's backs had the clear advantage in pace and penetration, they had no platform to work from and the constant whistling of Whitehouse ruined any flowing play. And, of course, the touch judge had to have his five minutes of fame - Village League rules dictate that the referee must always listen to the men with the white sticks.

An early blunder by Nicky Robinson, filling in at full back, gave Llanelli an attacking platform with a lineout in the Cardiff 22. Despite having clear height and option advantage over Cardiff's line out, the Turks failed to win clean ball and Madden was forced to tidy up. As the ball rolled past leaden-footed Dwayne, the Permed Loafer found himself a good five metres off side. This was an error that a 12 year old schoolboy would have been embarrassed to make and it was made even worse because Mounier had come from on an onside position to pressure Peel. The resulting penalty made it 3-0 to Turkey and the pattern for the first half had been set.

The game was fairly open as both side tried to capitalize on the errors of their opponents but neither control nor discipline were present. It wasn't only Rita whose lazy and indisciplined attitude gifted the Turks the game. A string of needless penalties flowed throughout the half - with the Cardiff pack handing the game on a plate to the Turks. Gareth Bowen - who looked a good player - turned in a faultless performance which proved to be the difference between the two teams.

From the kick off, another penalty this time conceded by Humphreys for holding on in the ruck. By now, Joubert must have been cursing Cardiff's lazy forward display at they failed to clear out at the ruck. Without tight players like Spencer and Dai Young, Cardiff's rucking and mauling skills lacked steel. Rogers and Quinnell want the ball in hand and the back row are pretty useless - Tait was the only one doing the donkey work. This was a poorly selected pack which lacked the balance we needed. And what compounded the problem, was Joubert's failure to replace players clearly off the pace and out of form. Quite why Mounier was selected in the first place is a mystery, and despite Humph using the same banjo he did in France, the coach waited an hour to bring on Woods. When he finally did join the fray, Cardiff didn't lose a lineout.

Too many Cardiff players didn't want to get their knees dirty in the first half so Joubert's philosophy of running rugby failed to make an impact. The number of turnovers and penalties conceded at the breakdown is an embarrassment - clearly not everyone is following the sermon. Laziness in supporting the ball carrier is the biggest weakness - whether running off him in contact areas, or in driving the opposition from the tackle point.

Robinson converted a difficult penalty and then missed two very easy kicks. His failure to convert Williams' try was ridiculous on a scale only matched by Arwel Thomas and to miss from the middle of the pitch is unforgivable. These five points cost Cardiff the game with neither Bowen nor Elbows Jones missing for Turkey.

A rare highlight of the first half was the ease with which the lightweight figure of Williams shook off tackles from two back rowers to flop over the line for an easy try. Rumours abound that Paul Grayson has been approached by Llanelli to become defensive coach. As Williams burst through in a Crazy Dan style his team mates looked on in disbelief.

Soon Cardiff were on the attack again as Tait sold a dummy to Woodbine Wyatt and headed for the line. Proctor was nowhere to be seen, so he missed out on his chance of revenge but his fellow winger Finau decided to assault the lumbering Canadian rather than try to tackle him. The tackle rule says that arms must be wrapped around the ball carrier, but the failed Warrington prop crossed his arms and dug his shoulder into Tait's ribs. Strangely Whitehouse and his labradorless assistants missed the assault and, of course, Cardiff failed to recycle, meaning that the attack was halted and Llanelli could clear their lines.

This was a turning point in the match.

Finau should have been Yellow Carded for the assault and a penalty try awarded as he was the last line of defence. Just as Rodber was penalised at Wembley for the same offence, Whitehouse should have awarded a penalty at the very least. Points for Cardiff at this stage in the game would have meant a lead at half time and the game could have had a different edge.

More importantly, however, was the damage done to the ribs of Tait by Finau. This robbed Cardiff of any quality first phase ball and stopped the team developing any momentum. Week in week out, Finau produces illegal and dangerous challenges yet he always goes unpunished. The guy is a danger and should be banned. How much longer do we have to put up with Finau's thuggery? For how many more games will his assaults go unpunished? Sadly, our club is doing nothing more than condoning this sort of behaviour by not citing the thug. Don't expect to read anything about it or hear anything about this in the Turkish-dominated media. The Neanderthal is a violent blemish on the game and the sooner he's sent back to his cave, the better.

The second half brought the arrival of this bloke from XIIIs who was soon in the thick of the action, slotting over a relatively easy penalty. With the ball in hand he was a revelation for Cardiff - doing the simple things well like taking the ball at speed and passing further than two metres off both hands! He used the miss pass in midfield to good effect and, by diverting the attention of Llanelli to Jamie Robinson at outside centre, he was able to create space for himself. Robinson thrived on the quick ball he was getting and ripped the Llanelli centres to shreds with his pace.

Pocketing his whippet, the Oldham boy sold Elbows Jones a dummy, and wriggled through the defence to create a ruck in the Turkish 22. The ball was spread wide through the hands of the Woods and Quinnell and Sititi strolled over on the right wing (where he should be playing every week) - the first pass Sititi has caught all year.

With Woods bringing on his own banjo, Cardiff finally had some first phase ball and the backs enjoyed the space they were allowed. Cloth cap in hand, the new outside half presided over a Cardiff back line finally returning to their traditions - pace and the ability to beat the man. Not since before Alex Evans have we seen the ball moved wide so frequently. Another try was created by Harris and Jamie Robinson as the latter left Leigh "Escape" Davies trailing in his wake and drew the full back to allow little brother Nicky to stroll over under the posts. Of course, Harris converted.

Despite this huge superiority in back pace, the shambolic forward display continued, and ill discipline in defence allowed Llanelli a steady stream of points. A foot in touch from Barry Davies prevented a try but Llanelli were not to be stopped as a suspiciously forward looking pass from Cardey allowed Pies Snr to flop over in the corner to really seal the victory.

Despite the best effort's of "The Whippet" and co, Cardiff's back line could not make up for the inefficiencies in the pack. However, the new-comer missed a relatively easy kick which Jinx would have slotted in his sleep and he cost Cardiff three points by punching the ball into touch - six points to the opposition. Indeed, he could well have been yellow carded for the latter offence, as a certain French full back was against Cardiff last season.

So, whilst Cardiff had shown some spirit in defence, their shambolic lineout and poor support of the ball carrier proved to be the undoing. Needless penalties conceded by Rita, "The Whippet", Humph, Fester and Sititi cost them the game. Poor selection and an ill-timed/predefined use of the substitutes bench also did nothing to strengthen a creaking pack.

But now it seems clear that even without the cutting edge of Craig Morgan, if Jamie Robinson can stay fit, we have a back line which is a match for any in Europe and will score tries. The only issue remains how well the forwards can get the basics right. Former half-back Joubert has to pull something out of the bag to cure our lineout ills otherwise we'll be weak to any hopeful punt downfield.

15
Gethin Rhys Williams
8
/10
took his try very well as the Llanelli back row disintegrated in front of him. He was assured under the high ball and kicked fairly well. It just shows what he can do with a burst of confidence early on in the game. But why doesn't he take the clearance kicks in defence when Nicky Robinson so clearly can only kick with his left foot? Come on Joubert - sort it out!
14
Craig Hudson
3
/10
didn't really do anything but miss Finau a couple of times. Managed to get concussed by headbutting the ground! Rapidly turning into Cardiff's version of Nathan Budgett.
13
Jamie Robinson
9
/10
a superb performance of pace (just ask Barry Davies!) and good angles of running. The timing of his pass to his brother was brilliant - Oh! How much can a hamstring recover in one week?
12
Pieter Muller
7
/10
a fairly quiet game apart from the now infamous Muller tackle being used to good effect. Leigh Davies produced nothing against him as Muller's defensive qualities are superb. This will be much needed to help Iestyn through the next couple of months.
11
Anthony Sullivan
5
/10
suffered a dead leg and was replaced at half time. Let's hope that the injury is not too serious as Cardiff must improve on their ability to give him ball in space. This was yet another game where he was almost totally unused.
10
Nicky Robinson
4
/10
the two easy kicks he missed in the first half cost Cardiff the game. Not content with forcing him to play outside half (centre is his position), Joubert decided he'd play at full back in the second half ... further testing his skills. Two fumbles in defence during the game cost Cardiff. He's known all along that he is just filling time at no 10 but the last few games show that he does have a future at centre - he clearly has the pace, distribution, tackling and kicking skills. The Robinson brothers are Cardiff's future.
9
Robert Howley
5
/10
seemed only barely interested in playing once Iestyn had arrived. Without a Lions tour at the end of the season and with prepubescent Dwayne his biggest rival for the Autumn internationals, Mr Howley is suffering from a severe lack of motivation. Hopefully he will play next week and not just go through the motions, saving himself for Mr Gregan. Another chance for the Preacher to shine and show us his motivational skills.
8
Semo Sititi
4
/10
definitely a winger. He has no idea how to recycle the ball and was clearly off the mark when the forward battle was on. Gave away a stupid penalty for use of the foot AFTER the whistle, looks out of his depth when the scrum is wheeling, can't break through any scrum half's tackle (first the Lilliputian Stringer, and now Dwayne) and the only pass he's caught all season was when he was on the wing.
7
Rob Appleyard
5
/10
some good tackles but he also lacked the pace necessary for the game. With The Whippet's arrival meaning more quick ball moved wide, the return of Martyn Williams can't come soon enough. Appleyard has always been a blind side and it's unfair to ask him to play openside.
6
Francois Mounier
2
/10
well off the pace, unable to catch his line out ball and generally anonymous. Pointless selection.
5
John Tait
6
/10
was looking very good until Finau's illegal assault. As soon as he was off the lineout and game plan for Cardiff fell apart - confidence leaked from forward play.
4
Craig Quinnell
8
/10
another performance of grit and determination .... although he was another gifting points to the opposition. His effort levels were enormous and the motivation of putting one on Mr Jenkins at Stradey was clear to see. Did he score that try?
3
Gary Powell
5
/10
when the ball came to him, he made an effort but was nowhere to be seen for the rest of the game ..... other than when he too gave three points to the opposition. Where's Fourie?
2
Jon Humphreys
2
/10
the long injury lay out has taken it out of Humph and he seems to have developed the yips in throwing the ball. The lineout was a shambles .... another who gave away three unnecessary points. Unless he rediscovers his form quickly he'll now be third choice hooker.
1
Peter Rogers
4
/10
Mr Three-Points-For-The-Opposition didn't let us down and performed to his usual standard. Always the same story of looking to play outside half instead of prop although on a couple of occasion he did carry the ball well.