Cardiff

k.o. time: 3:05 pm

27 October, 2001

Cardiff Arms Park

Spectators: 9,300

Glasgow
referee
Chris White
8
/10
Tight all round performance ruined by some ludicrous decisions in the third quarter. Needed to be more strict on the Scots diving on the ball carrier/tackler.
weather
Dry, Hot & Sunny
worth annoying the wife factor
9
/10
our man of the match
Pieter Muller
scorers
Anthony Sullivan (3)
Iestyn Harris (3)
Iestyn Harris (5)
our choice for next week

vs Glasgow

k.o. time: 3:45 pm

4 November, 2001

Hughenden

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
Semo Sititi
6
Greg Kacala
5
John Tait
4
Craig Quinnell
3
Dai Young
2
Jon Humphreys
1
Spencer John

A spectacular team performance from Cardiff blew away a weakened Glasgow shorn of a number of key players. The papers will tell you it was all about Iestyn Harris' performance, but this was a victory built on the dominance of the front five and a committed work ethic from one to fifteen. The XIII's old boys of Harris and Sullivan scored all Cardiff's points but the foundations of the victory were laid by a strong performance by the pack. The galvanizing effect of Emyr Lewis and Jonathan Humphreys brought greater cohesion in the tight, allowing Sititi to play his more favoured loose game. At last the pack is beginning to look more balanced - tough physical defenders, ball carriers and speed where needed.

Cardiff started the game with a pace the visitors couldn't handle. As the sun beat down, the ball was kept alive by Cardiff for the first ninety seconds of the game - eight phases in all. Harris was immediately calling the shots and enjoyed ball in hand for more than his usual six phases. Spencer and Fester showed good appetite for carrying the ball and pulverized the Glasgow back row. However, Cardiff were already beginning to lose the ball in the ruck and conceding turnovers through a lack of support for the ball carrier. This is a weakness we've seen all season and there's still much to improve on. Against Montferrand the home team gave a lesson in supporting the ball carrier - a lesson Cardiff would do well to learn from.

Cardiff's first points came from a relatively easy penalty, conceded for handling in the ruck, but most of Harris' first half kicking from hand on the whole was pretty awful. There's clearly a technique problem with all manner of sliced, topped and screwed kicks showing a lack of control. Plenty of work to do.

However, he soon realised that by keeping the ball in hand Cardiff had the pace and skill to destroy Glasgow's backs. From a lineout on the half way line a simple miss pass to Robinson allowed Rhys Williams to burst into the line with a deafening sonic boom. The Scottish centres were committed by Henry's dummy run but Williams' speed had already taken him clear. A simple pass to Sullivan and he raced to the corner without a tackler in sight - try and run under the posts, Sulli!

Soon Glasgow were under pressure again in their 22, and as Howley tapped a quick penalty Sititi charged through. Once more support was lacking a- no quick phase ball. Support play of the back row - enormously improved from recent weeks - still needs to get better if we are to win at the top level. The front five however was now going great guns and the pack burst through again from a lineout. But for some superb last line defence from Glasgow, either Tait or Humphreys could have scored. More pressure from Cardiff with a series of scrums deep in Glasgow territory following a predictable charge down by Howley of Hayes' ponderous kick. Between them, Quinnell and Tait managed a turnover tackle and the stage was set for a whippet run around.

Unnecessary over complication in mid field had led to an error by Sullivan with the line at his mercy. This time, however, Harris did not pass and his double dummy left the statuesque Scottish centres for dead - drifting through the gap. Better defences than Glasgow's have fallen for this in the past - his trademark in XIIIs.

A superb catch from the restart by Tait laid the platform for another exciting back move from the home team. All defensive eyes were now on Harris, so this created space for Robinson. Intricate passing between Muller and Robinson freed Sullivan with the inside ball only for The Usher to drop his torch with the line begging. With the ball eventually recycled, there were too many lumbering forwards clogging up midfield and the chance was lost.

The first half ended with serious pressure on the Cardiff line as line out after line out had to be defended. Under Yoda, Cardiff would almost certainly have conceded a try but The Preacher's wisdom is on a higher plain than that of the aging Jedi Master. Despite constant infringing and warnings from the referee - something that White lacked an evenhanded approach to - Cardiff defended their line and indeed pinched the Scottish ball thanks to more good rucking from Fester and Spencer. On Sunday, there'll be an Italian ref famed for his yellow cards, so Joubert needs to work hard on this area of the game - clearly Glasgow's favoured method of attack. We'll see more cards and fewer penalties from Guilo De Santis.

Kacala replaced Tait at half time, but despite limited opportunities to prepare the Pole for second row duties, Cardiff easily maintained their shape.

On the limited occasions when Glasgow did get hold of the ball, ponderous half back play meant they barely got over the gain line. Another Howley tap penalty almost put Henry away but the Giant Bok forced him into touch.

Cardiff were desperate to maintain the tempo of the game and Howley was a constant stimulus to the slackers! Another charge down from a Hayes kick maintained the pressure and ensured that Glasgow could not get out of their own half.

Bulloch looked outstanding in a beaten team - easily the best ball carrier for the visitors. Always a threat with ball in hand, he charged through some pretty feeble stuff from Appleyard on more than one occasion.

Following some good work from Dai Young working hard in the tight, recycling ball, Harris spotted a lumbering forward marking him. A dummy and a hand off later and he was under the posts - too much power for Metcalfe.

Panic had now set in in the Glasgow ranks. Any time Pieter Muller was near the ball carrier it was brown pants time. In defence, Muller was simply outstanding. Two poor lobbed passes by the Scottish centres gifted Sullivan an intercept and another try. Throughout last season we saw Cardiff's wingers defending very narrow, often tackling the outside centre with the full back tackling the winger. Sullivan, however, preferred to take the ball rather than the man and new no one could match his pace.

The sinbinning of The Hulk had been coming with the Cardiff players ignoring White's warnings. Glasgow scored with their man advantage after the excellent Bulloch had again broken through an Appleyard tackle to create an overlap. But this was all Glasgow could muster and Cardiff even scored three points of their own through a Harris penalty despite being a man short.

As the game drew to a close, a great punt from Harries (his first of the game) right into the corner created Cardiff an attacking line out that was wonderfully claimed by The Hulk. As Harris ran across the pitch, Sullivan pulled wider and a low flat kick found him one on one with the defence. A catch and a shimmy from and his hat trick was complete.

But the scoring was not finished. After a hack and chase from Woods, Kacala and Nicky Robinson, Glasgow were forced to carry the ball over their own line. From the resulting scrum, Harris dummied two and side stepped three to score under the posts. Not a bad game from the whippet.

So a poor Glasgow team shorn of Andy Nichol, two first team props, two from the back row and their first choice wingers were cruelly exposed by a destructive Cardiff front five and some real pace in the Cardiff back line.

Each time Harris had the ball in hand he had a simple philosophy - how can we score a try? There was no tactics, no complex analysis of strengths and weaknesses, no tactical kicking .... just simple stuff. With the right players around him, this simple approach to the game could just be enough. Treating each new pass as the first of a set of six, saw him forcing the game - constantly asking questions of the Scottish defence with a series of bullet passes to outside centre. With Robinson on the pitch, the Scots were in a world of pain - the man has so much pace and with The Usher and Sulli outside, the points flowed.

When the defence drifted too wide - expecting yet another miss pass, they fatally gave Harris too much room. Do that, and he'll kill you! If there's any improvement to be made here, it's to use Pieter Muller a little more to suck in the opposition back row. If Pieter doesn't get a pass, somebody's going to get Mullered as he was a man possessed in defence! And then there's the other XIIIs inspired tactic of the cross kick to the wing - another problem for defensive wingers .... pulling them further towards the touchline and opening up more space for Robinson or the sonic boom from full back. Teams are going to struggle against this array of attacking weapons.

However, there was plenty for Cardiff to work on in defence before next weekend's return fixture. Nichol will be back, so Hayes will get more time to make his kicks than he did on Saturday. The back row will be strengthened so our back row needs to improve on some of the weak tackles that went in. The Italian ref won't be as patient as White, so some legitimate defending of the rolling maul is a must.

As for the question over who's got most to worry about for Sunday's rematch, well Richie Dixon, you're in a world of pain playing against that back line. Cardiff now look capable of scoring from anywhere on the pitch and the even better news is that we've still got Dan Baugh, Martyn Williams AND Craig Morgan to come back from injury.

With Montferrand defeating Northampton, Cardiff can't afford any slip ups - we simply must win and win convincingly in Glasgow.

Come on the bois!!!!

15
Gethin Rhys Williams
8
/10
A confident display, apart from one terrible touch finder. His counter attack led to Harris' second. Refound confidence allowed him to keep the ball in hand much more but he kicked well when necessary. A good balance of the "poke" kick and keeping ball in hand. Revels in the running game that Cardiff need to keep playing. Will face a sterner test under the high ball in Glasgow on Sunday.
14
Andrew Henry
7
/10
Another terrier like performance of guts and energy. He was not intimidated by his monster South African opponent and was unlucky not to get around him on a couple of occasion. Better use of the grubber kick will lead to a try feast! Henry's centre of gravity is so low that the grubber kick will take him around all but the smallest defenders!
13
Jamie Robinson
9
/10
Another fantastic performance of sheer speed in attack and wonderful defensive tackles. His partnership with Muller is almost impenetrable, whilst in attack the miss pass from Harris allowed Robinson space. But most of all, puts in a fantastic work rate.
12
Pieter Muller
9
/10
The demolition man. After the Merceron tackle, Mr Muller defends like "a man at war with the everyday world". As Harris fails to use him as an attacking option, Muller vents his frustration on opposition backs. Glasgow had better hope he gets a pass on Sunday!
11
Anthony Sullivan
8
/10
A performance spoilt by a couple of dropped passes - but this was vintage Sullivan. A fast tempo game suits him down the ground and he is beginning to learn the defensive angles. His interception try was just reward for his defence.
10
Iestyn Harris
8
/10
A wonderfully fresh approach to winning a game of rugby. His attitude seems to be to try and score every time he has the ball in hand. His eye for a gap is uncanny. The influence on his career of Jonathan Davies is so apparent as Iestyn's game is built on the principle of "Give a dummy and go". On at least three occasions, fatally, the Scots fell for the dummy.
9
Robert Howley
8
/10
A couple of kick aheads led to good Cardiff attacks and some great short passing gave the forwards ball in hand. In defence he was outstanding, with many good tackles and, of course, the pressure he put on Hayes ruined the Kiwi's game.
8
Emyr Lewis
8
/10
His first full game galvanized Cardiff's back row and gave the team a ball carrier. From the base of the scrum he got over the gain line, drew in the Glasgow back row and set up the phase play from which Harris could play.
7
Semo Sititi
7
/10
Undoubtedly his best game for Cardiff at last playing as an openside flanker. As we've been asking all season, why didn't Joubert swap him and Appleyard earlier? Shorn of the more physical duties of number 8, he was free to use his undoubted pace at openside. A revelation (and he only dropped the ball once!).
6
Rob Appleyard
5
/10
Completely off the pace and also missed a few tackles on Gordon Bulloch. Were it not for the injury to Tait, he would have been substituted in the second half. Unfortunately, fast paced games are not his cup of tea.
5
John Tait
7
/10
A mammoth effort from a man clearly carrying an injury. Much to the delight of the watching Canadian Women's team, Tait was superb at attacking rucks and dominated the lines out. Let's hope that his injury is not too severe and he will be able to play next week.
4
Craig Quinnell
9
/10
Another superb performance from Uncle Fester. He carried the ball well and won clean possession in the line out. His defensive tackles won Cardiff at least two turnovers, the first creating the Whippet's first try.
3
Dai Young
8
/10
An excellent performance in the loose from Young - rucking very well. He was the first to the breakdown that led to Harris' second try and this was a characteristic of his game. His performance was what Cardiff lacked at Stradey the previous week - some one to clear out in attacking rucks, make first up tackles and to slow down opposition ball.
2
Jon Humphreys
7
/10
Very solid in the line out finally using the pre-Yoda banjo. His first up tackling was awesome and support play was reminiscent of Humph at his best. Perhaps we were too quick to write him off. . . .. ? A powerhouse in the tight, nevertheless lacks the pace to make an impact in the loose. But the importance of balance in the Cardiff pack means that Humph is a must to take on the physical stuff up front.
1
Spencer John
8
/10
Superb ball carries in the first half when he seemed to burn him self out. The plan to alternate him with Rogers worked to Cardiff's benefit and allowed Spencer to enjoy himself. More work in the tight would have enhanced his performance and this is where Cardiff need to work harder next weekend.