Leinster

k.o. time: 5:30 pm

5 September, 2004

Donnybrook Stadium

Spectators: 3,256

Cardiff Blues
referee
David Changleng
5
/10
Why do referees always stand on the wrong side of rucks? Both teams slowed down so much ball and pinched it illegally simply because he was so poorly positioned.
weather
Sunny
worth annoying the wife factor
1
/10
our man of the match
Kort Schubert
general comment

Quite a dire game of "rugby" (allegedly), between two teams content on losing. As this was only an armchair game things are not so bad, but it was almost time to switch over to Songs Of Praise instead.

scorers
Nick Macleod (3)
our choice for next week

vs Dragons

k.o. time: 5:30 pm

11 September, 2004

Cardiff Arms Park

15
Gethin Rhys Williams
14
Nick Walne
13
Jamie Robinson
12
Tom Shanklin
11
Craig Morgan
10
Nicky Robinson
9
Dean Dewdney
8
Kort Schubert
7
Martyn Williams
6
Robin Sowden-Taylor
5
Robert Sidoli
4
Deiniol Jones
3
Ben Evans
2
Gareth Williams
1
John Yapp

Just as we saw last week at Welford Road, Cardiff’s lack of control at half back cost them in a game where their forwards were more than a match for the home team.

The game ended in a dire nine all draw as Cardiff squandered their chances in the strong sunshine and heat failing to defeat a much depleted Leinster team. Last season the woeful start at Borders cost Cardiff a guaranteed Heineken Cup place so let’s just hope that these two dropped points haunt the club.

Whereas Leicester had the experience and talent at half back to punish Cardiff the week previous, the visitors were lucky that Leinster were equally as dire in all departments. When the two teams met in the European Cup last season, the crowd was above 20,000 but there were barely more than a tenth of that number brave enough to stump up cash for this nonsense. Can we finally give up this pretense that tis Celtic League is a success?

The game started in typical Cardiff fashion as they gave away a simple penalty which McAllister slipped over for a three points home team lead. What followed that were minutes and minutes of absolutely terrible nonsense, that would have embarrassed a Barry Plastic 3rd XV. These well paid professionals served up more basic errors than a Veterans tournament and both teams were at their most dangerous when they didn't have the ball.

Surprisingly, it was Leinster’s efforts of gifting a try that were almost successful first. Cardiff had managed to win some recycled ball in some completely random fashion and they even went two or three phases without dropping the ball or kicking it like a Girl Guide.

The ball was worked from right to left as Cardiff slowly worked out that the pace of Morgan, Robinson and Williams was too much for the home team out wide. The question must really be asked as to why it took them longer than… oh, a nanosecond or so to work that out, but there you go. The double bluff came as Craig Morgan slipped though some friendly home tackle to create a ruck on the Dublin 5 metre line. With a dogleg defence in front of him, Rhys Williams took the ball at first receiver and ignored the huge overlap to run straight into the back row. Well done.

As Leinster cleared their lines on this occasion we were then greeted with the further pedantic wonders of the Scottish refereeing fraternity. One of the Changleng brothers (does it matter which one? All Scots refs are clones) contrived to miss clear offences at both scrum and ruck from both teams, yet mystifyingly penalising the most bland of misdemeanours. His style was topped, however, by a touch judge from 40 metres away as he got his 5 mintues of fame on Pay Per View on Irish and Scottish TV (pitty the poor buggers paying for this - never again! Moffet may be bleating about better finances, but at what real cost? How many spectators and supporters has his policies driven from the sport?).

From his position on the touchline he chose to comment on a "stamp" in a ruck smack bang in the middle of the pitch. He claimed that the footwork was nowhere near the ball yet he admitted to not being able to see the number on the back of the shirt. How the hell could he be sure where the ball was then???? The touchline was so close to the pitch that he could only have been responding to the crowd to get his 30 seconds of video fame. Jackie Changleng didn’t even get the penalty in the right place for the offence.

Still, the first half ended as the first half began with Cardiff giving away a stupid penalty to trail 6 – 0 at the break. It could have been worse, however, as Leinster had their own breakaway chance to score along the Cardiff right hand side. A series of kick aheads and fumbles and a joint knock on over the Cardiff line led Jackie to adjudge that the knocks ons prevented a try and we had to live with a tryless first half.

There was a false dawn at the beginning of the second half as a glaring error from the home team outside half allowed Cardiff to scrum in their Dublin 22. The scrum was about the only thing that was going well so there were high hopes. Another thing that was going well was Schubert gaining real yards from the back of the scrum but unless he drove to the openside he never had any support. Perhaps Nathan Thomas was packing down but it was not noticeable until Schubert had created a ruck 15 metres out. Thomas used the pick up and drive and with the help of Yapp he made it over the goal line only to be held up on his back.

Cardiff then had the advantage at the next two scrums as the referee finally worked out the pasting that Leinster were getting in that phase. A free kick led to a wisely chosen scrum again, but when the next scrum was penalised Martyn Williams chose to go for the three points. Had he shown more bottle, then he would have taken a third scrum and driven from the base for the try. Instead, a Mcleod penalty made it 6 – 3. This decision encapsulated the total lack of confidence eating away at the side.

The signs were that Cardiff could get on top as Leinster could not control their own ball. The visitors gradually began to get the better of the set pieces. A little bit of composure from the half backs should have seen the ball kept in the Leinster half and the pressure kept on, but instead Smith knocked on from the kick off and the momentum was gone.

Again the game disintegrated into a complete shambles for a long period of time. A Walne run won another penalty in front of the posts and Mcleod levelled the scores, before yet another error allowed Leinster to sneak back into the lead.

However, entering the final 10 minutes the game was Cardiff’s to take. They were pretty much camped in the Leinster half throughout but could not capitalise as the final pass always went astray, or the lineout was messed up. Cardiff dropped the ball in midfield through Gethin Jenkins, dropped the ball in the driving maul, were penalised at attacking scrums and generally blew every chance.

An injury earlier in the game to Jamie Robinson meant that Lee Thomas was on the pitch and he had the final chance to take the victory. Sometimes Cardiff managed to get the ball to the wingers and creating space for Walne up the right wing. His running won Cardiff a penalty from a ruck near the touchline, but unfortunately, mini-Jenkins fluffed his kick and that chance for victory had gone.

There was yet one more chance to come for Thomas, but mysteriously Martyn Williams chose not to give him a kick for goal from near his own 10 metre line, despite reaching from somewhere similar (with something to spare) against Worcester. It would have been worth him having a pop at goal, but it just summed up the lack of confidence and no killer instinct in the Cardiff team.

The same problems with the spine of the team continue from week to week. Schubert is a good short term bet until Malpas gets fit, but he lacked support in the ball carrying from his team mates. Rhys Williams looked rusty, as though he had spent all summer in the gym and he made a mockery of the policy of resting players. Gareth Williams is much too loose in both open play and with his line out throwing, and the team looks clueless.

15
Gethin Rhys Williams
4
/10
He was clearly very rusty and totally lacking in confidence, failing to take the high kicks and never backing his pace when he had the gap. Indeed, his selfishness in the Leinster 22 cost Cardiff 7 easy points when he ignored the overlap.
14
Nick Walne
5
/10
Despite having very little to do in defence, he kept his interest levels up by trying to reach impossible passes thrown to him by his half backs. When he had the ball in hand he would always makes ground, even when used on the inside pass from the outside half! But he must learn not to force the pass, especially to Nathan Thomas.
13
Jamie Robinson
3
/10
Just as normal, he was sound in defence and rarely looked troubled for pace but he had the attacking skills of Gerald Cordle on ice. With the ball in hand he looked to ship it on which was always the better thing to do if the alternative is kicking…….
12
Tristan Davies
1
/10
Yes, well, erm……. Quite.
11
Craig Morgan
3
/10
During the summer it has been rumoured that he has been giving kicking coaching to the team, but this clearly isn’t true. Nobody has been doing any kicking coaching. Morgan has lost the confidence to take on his man one on one, but he did seem to enjoy doing some tackling in defence.
10
Nick Macleod
2
/10
Unfortunately this was a game that was crying out for a dominant outside half but Mcleod was left out to dry by his international colleagues who gave him no support. Mcleod’s kicking was poor as was his control of the ball in the tackle. The effort is there and he must keep trying, but let’s just hope that he has a little support next time.
9
Richard Malcolm Smith
1
/10
There was absolutely no control of the game from the scrum half who struggled to hit his winger from 10 yards with a straight pass. There was no leadership, no quick service from the breakdown and no instinct. Indeed, he often passed to the wrong player, putting his team further into the mire.
8
Kort Schubert
7
/10
Although he suffered from cramp in the second half, he showed throughout just how valuable a driving number 8 can be. With the ball in hand he was pretty successful at breaking the gain line and he was unfortunate than Nathan Thomas could not cap his hard work with a try in the early part of the second half.
7
Martyn Williams
6
/10
His bulk now means that he can tackle on the gain line, rather than behind it, but the game did not allow him to show his linking skills. Pretty wasted in this game, unfortunately.
6
Nathan Thomas
3
/10
He is undoubtedly better suited to the blind side than the number 8 shirt, but he still lacks the strength and aggression needed to be a modern back row forward. He lost the ball in contact and was turned on his back when he was over the try line. There is a lad called O’Connor at Pontypridd who would be a better bet.
5
Robert Sidoli
4
/10
The heat seemed to get to him as he looked well off the pace later on in the game. The lineout throwing was never going to allow him to shine, but he seemed to scrummage fairly well.
4
Deiniol Jones
4
/10
see Sidoli.
3
Ben Evans
3
/10
It really is interesting how he manages to fall over before contact on both occasions that he got the ball. Still, he kept up the scrum so that is something.
2
Gareth Williams
4
/10
Can somebody please tell him that the primary role of a hooker is to ensure that his team win their own line out ball? Especially in the opposition 22. Whilst it is all well and good running around like a third flanker (or second, in Cardiff’s case) this really is missing the point as much as he misses his jumpers.
1
John Yapp
5
/10
The ball was not given often enough to Yapp, even though his early couple of runs seemed to be getting somewhere. He had a cut on his head and never really shone after that.