Cardiff

k.o. time: 5:30 pm

13 November, 2004

BT Sport Cardiff Arms Park

Spectators: 2,799

Glasgow
referee
George Clancy
7
/10
Worked hard throughout the game communicating with the players and telling them when to release the ball etc. On the whole refereed the offside line well, though perhaps should have yellow carded players more quickly for deliberate professional fouls at the ruck.
worth annoying the wife factor
5
/10
our man of the match
John Yapp
general comment

Well, at least we won. The effort levels are there and as long as they continue, then Cardiff will continue to improve. Key payers are returning from injury, though it is at half back that the side need the lift. With Nick Robinson unlikely to return this year, there's a lot of pressure on Ryan Powell's shoulders to turn things around.

scorers
Freddy Tuilagi (1)
Kort Schubert (1)
Lee Thomas (1)
Lee Thomas (4)
our choice for next week

vs Ulster

k.o. time: 7:30 pm

19 November, 2004

Kingspan Stadium

15
Matthew Nuthall
14
Craig Morgan
13
Shaun James
12
Freddy Tuilagi
11
Dean Dewdney
10
Lee Thomas
9
Ryan Powell
8
James Malpas
7
Robin Sowden-Taylor
6
Nathan Thomas
5
Robert Sidoli
4
Craig Quinnell
3
Ben Evans
2
Thomas Rhys Thomas
1
John Yapp

Cardiff’s unbeaten home record remains in tact after a dogged battle against a determined and well organized Scottish outfit. Both sides huffed and puffed through the game confident in the knowledge that sooner or later the opposition would turn the ball over. Error after error made this painful watching and this was a game Cardiff should have won with a bonus point and something to spare. For all the honest endeavor of the visitors, they lacked any cutting edge behind and were devoid of the necessary pace to test a well organized defence.

That the teams were allowed to start the game wearing the same jerseys was simply ridiculous and obviously a blatant ploy by Cardiff to ensure a Blue and Blacks victory. The Scots only traveled down on the bus before the game, and so clearly had no time to nip out to Giles Sports to look for other jerseys. At half time, they finally managed to find a set. How times have changed for Kenny Logan! Not so long ago he was working with six coaches at Wasps – now he’s working with two ….. one on the touchline and one to take him to and from away games in one day. How can anyone call this Celtic League comparable with the Zurich Premiership when the poor old Scots drove down to Cardiff and back in one day?

The game started badly for Cardiff with total disorganization at the kick off – Schubert looked at Thomas, and Thomas looked at Schubert and both of them looked stupid. Nobody went for the ball until too late and then Sidoli knocked it on. Not an auspicious start. The visitors moved the ball from the scrum but Sowden-Taylor did more than enough to disrupt and Glasgow were unable to recycle. Second scrum and Yapp was giving Euan Murray a torrid time.

Third scrum and a simple pick up and drive from the back saw the visitor’s full back brush off some dreadful tackling from Morgan and Dewdney, but fortunately good backing up by Smith saved the day. Sowden-Taylor was offside in defence and a simple three points gifted to Glasgow – the result of poor tackling in defence and poor discipline from RST. Cardiff 0 Glasgow 3.

A good kick off from Lee Thomas gave the Scots an opportunity to show they were as equally inept at fielding kick offs as the home side, but from the ensuing attack, with a four to two overlap, Macleod threw out a dreadful pass to no one in particular and the opportunity was lost. Freddie fielded the ball, and Schubert made the hard yards feeding Yapp on his shoulder. Mistake number two as Yapp dropped the pass. Howarth hoofed the loose ball back downfield and Cardiff had lost thirty yards.

A Glasgow lineout in the 10m line and a ruck in field and suddenly Euan Murray was away. Schubert was sleeping, and as Fester and Yapp tackled Pinder, Murray took an intelligent angle and ran with pace onto the pass. Good support from openside Andrew Wilson and suddenly he was under the posts – unopposed. Very poor concentration in defence and players looking at each other instead of at themselves! Simple conversion – Cardiff 0 Glasgow 10.

Cardiff were still in the changing rooms.

Another good kick off from Thomas gave his forwards every chance, but with Smith looking the other way the Scots hoofed the ball down field only for excellent covering from Yapp to halt their progress. Dumb play by the visitors and Cardiff were awarded a penalty for the player not allowing Yapp to get to his feet.

Now Rhys Thomas was using all his jumpers in the lineout – Schubert, Budgett, Sidoli and even Fester in a demonstration of the throwing we should have seen during the Stade Francais debacle.

Howarth and Lee Thomas exchanged touch kicks and the slow paced nature of the game worsened as the Glaswegians suffered injury after injury. Schubert and Thomas linked well and Shaun James ran hard and straight in the center. An excellent chip and catch over the flat defence from Lee Thomas should have been more decisive but the support was too slow in arriving. Nevertheless, Freddie was up for it and made a short break before feeding the industrious James. The attack moved right only for Fester to attempt an impossible pass to Sidoli. More "injuries" from Glasgow before Macleod looped with Dewdney and fumbled the ball into touch.

Cardiff were linking well with each other, but the attacks were too lateral – drifting from one touch line to another with Shaun James the only real hard straight runner. Smith failed to use Fester and Yapp to suck in the back row before moving the ball wide. Now Glasgow were in trouble at the scrum and Yapp and Evans tore into their opposite numbers. Only 18 year old John Beattie’s good work at 8 turned bad ball into good. Instead of charging head down and sucking in defences, Sidoli was flinging out speculative passes in attempt to be the new Michael Owen. Suddenly Sid was free down the left and as he tried to kick ahead – yes, that’s not a typo …… kick ahead – and he lost possession five yards from the line.

What Welsh rugby needs is ball carriers – without them, our backs will never get the space thy need against the better sides. What Cardiff needs is ball carriers, and Sid’s approach – though showing effort and application – was not really what the doctor ordered.

From a loose kick in the Glasgow 22m, good determination by Schubert on the ground saw the ball go wide to Freddie who raced hard and wide handing off his opponent in the process. An intelligent kick ahead and Shaun James pressurised Lamont but the kick was a little too hard.

This sort of summed up Cardiff’s approach. Instead of settling down and doing the basics – going through the phases and showing patience – the players were trying too hard.

Freddy lost the ball in contact on the half way line and this time it was Lee Thomas falling off a tackle as Wilson once more broke free. He didn’t have the pace to make the line, but good support from his fellow flanker Swindall almost saw the Scots increase their lead.

With the game opening out and Craig Morgan spending more and more of his time at outside half from second phase, Macleod made and intelligent break, only for Lee Thomas to fluff a simple catch with Cardiff pressing in the Glasgow 22m. More Glasgow "injuries".

A highly risky (and unnecessary) pass from Smith into midfield almost lec to an interception try for Glasgow but once more hard and straight running from Shaun James rescued the day. From the ensuing ruck, the visitors went off side and Lee Thomas registered Cardiff’s first points of the evening. Cardiff 3 Glasgow 10.

From the kick off Sidoli and his props went to field the ball a full three yards from where it actually landed. The radar is clearly bust, bois. Fortunately, Schubert made the catch his own. This time it was Craig Morgan’s turn to fumble a simple kick - unopposed - just as he did at Munster.

Suddenly, with Cardiff’s defence around the tackle point again looking suspect the lightening speed of Kenny Logan broke through deep into Cardiff’s 22. Only some seriously average passing in the Scottish back line saved the day as Glasgow huffed and puffed but lacked the pace to make an impact. This time, the defence was sound; though Morgan was lucky to survive with a warning from the ref where a yellow card could have been awarded.

Now Cardiff were defending a 5m lineout, but exhibiting all the skills of Gareth Williams, the Scottish hooker fluffed his throw. Instead of kicking from the base, Smith threw a short pass and Morgan was lucky to get away with the charge down. Budgett’s naive body position allowed the scrum half the space he needed to pressurize the kicker. Then a lucky free kick for the Scots with Yapp slipping. Still, not a problem. They opted for the scrum and charged into mid field. Good work from James making the tackle, and as he got to his feet he challenged for the ball. The ref had no option, and Cardiff won the penalty with Maclure lying on top of the tackled player right off his feet.

Cardiff’s unit skills still looked shaky and although a good throw from Thomas and jump by Sidoli won fast ball at the back of the lineout, clearly the players had no clue what they were supposed to do with it. Sidoli – looking exasperated – found himself in space and turned and ran two yards, before losing possession when he hit the floor. Dreadful stuff.

Lazy running from Evans and Yapp at the next breakdown and the Scots increased their lead by three points. A total lack of urgency and a slow paced approach to the game was gifting points to the visitors.

Although poor kicking from Smith threatened to see Cardiff losing territory again, this time Howarth matched his skill level. Cardiff’s set piece was now strong, and the lineout was a steady stream of guaranteed possession. From first phase, Macleod looped with James before throwing a long pass to Morgan who skipped and swerved but was tackled just short of the Glasgow line. Another Glasgow injury.

The signs were there though. If the forwards carried the ball more into the heart of the defence, there was too much pace for the Scots out wide with James, Morgan and Dewdney always looking threatening.

The visitors' scrum was now under so much pressure that they were forced to go for fast ball at every scrum – even those on their own line. RST made an excellent tackle on Beattie, turning him for Fester to pick up the ball and charge. This time the forward ball carrier had done his job, and despite a dreadful pass from Smith, Macleod gathered well and had the vision to feed Morgan and then Freddy who scored wide out on the right. Thomas made the kick and Cardiff were back in it – 10-13.

From the kick off, Schubert again made the catch and the pack piled in behind him. Then Smith made his bid for glory. With the Scot’s back row looking for another charge down, they were positioned just that little bit too wide and excellent vision from the scrum half saw him dart through the space and break over the half way line. A jink to his right and Kenny Logan looked mighty stupid sitting on his bum looking over his left shoulder at Smith racing towards the line. With the full back covering across, Smith fed RST with Yapp and Sidoli also showing a good turn of speed to get up in support. Freddy dived over at the ruck and Smith was up again this time to make a much more measured pass to his outside half. Macleod fed James, and Morgan put Schubert – the man who had started the move – in the left-hand corner at almost the exact spot where Freddy had just crossed the line. This time Thomas missed his kick, but the home side were ahead 15-13.

Now Cardiff’s tails were up. Another clockwork lineout and Freddy took the ball up in midfield. But sadly the ref ruined the move with a truly ridiculous penalty against Rhys Thomas for not releasing the ball in the tackle. Then pay back. Fester charged through the middle of a ruck and where in previous games we’ve seen him yellow carded, this time the ref penalized the scrum half for a knock on.

Miraculously, Cardiff reached half time two points in the lead, but the tepid atmosphere in a mostly empty stadium saw the half end with a whimper.

The ref started the second half in generous mood giving Cardiff another three points with a harsh penalty against the Scots in loose play for diving on the ball. For those of us who’ve long given up any hope of consistency between refs week on week, this came as no surprise.

But with so many errors on show, there was always going to be a chance for the Scots to come back into things, and Sidoli’s fluffed catch at the kick off gifted them possession near the Cardiff 22. The defence around the tackle point still looked fragile, but this time the Scots spilled the ball and turned over possession.

Smith tapped and ran from his own line and fed the ever present RST in support. Then with fast ball and a four to two overlap, Macleod hoofed an unnecessary kick downfield when he should have fed his backline. Worse still, from the kick tennis that followed Cardiff got themselves off side and the Scots pinged over the penalty. Cardiff 18 Glasgow 16.

At crucial times in the game, Macleod was simply making the wrong decisions. Each attack seems to be predetermined and he’s not looking around him reading what is required. Instead of having a good chance to go 23-13 up, the Scots were back within striking distance.

Lee Thomas lost the ball in the tackle from a good flat pass by Smith and the home team found themselves back on their own 10 yard line defending a Scottish throw. Then a great tackle by RST – a la Crazy – lifted the crowd and the team and Cardiff steamed forward in defence against a static Scottish backline. Macleod won the ball on the floor and suddenly Cardiff had fast turnover ball. But this time it was Dewdney’s turn to exhibited poor decision making AND poor execution with an ill conceived and ill directed kick which went over the Scottish try line.

From the drop out, Dewdney took a good catch above his head and as Budgett set up the maul, once more Macleod looped around the ball carrier heading off towards the try line. Cleverly waiting for the supporting runner, he fed Dewdney 10m from the line. But the Zimbabwean weakly lost the ball in contact and the chance was wasted.

Cardiff continued to frantically press in attack – running into each other, players out of position with no real idea of what they needed to do, until Macleod steadied the ship with a careful dink into the corner. Then from a clearing kick, unopposed, Freddy fumbled a simple catch and turnover over possession, releasing any pressure the Scots may have felt.

A lucky kick to touch was Smith’s last contribution to the game as Ryan Powell joined for the last half an hour.

Good pressing by Macleod was spoilt by him playing the ball on the floor right in front of the ref and the Scots were back on the attack. Glasgow kept it tight – pick and charge all the way, but good work from RST won the turnover.

More top class lineout work secured the ball for the home side and with Powell directing things the pack rolled downfield into Glasgow territory. Freddy took the crash ball and RST linked well with Schubert. Once more Macleod made a telling kick into the corner as Cardiff tried to turn the screw. Cardiff went wide again (once more to little effect without the forward ball carrier), but suddenly it was Yapp with ball in hand charging across the gain line towards the Scottish line. Cardiff pounded away and sure enough the Scots eventually handled the ball in the ruck and Thomas put the home side a further three points ahead. Another Glasgow "injury".

From the kick off once more Sidoli’s radar was well off target, but Schubert did his job well and tidied up. Morgan fluffed his clearance kick which very fortunately fell into Nuttall’s hands (on for Dewdney), but the youngster spilled the ball in the tackle with James supporting well on his inside. Once more poor defence around the Cardiff ruck – this time RST and Lee Thomas guilty of waiting for the other to make the tackle and suddenly the Scots were through again. Fortunately a wild pass slowed the attack but they had retained possession. But the lack of pace again was all too obvious, and although they went through the phases, only a missed tackle by Cardiff was going to allow them to score.

Wilson took the ball out wide out on his left and Freddy flew up like an exorcet. The technique was dubious – head first – but the guts were there for all to see. And he didn’t rest on his laurels. Up he got and was the first to make the next tackle – this time on Howarth - winning the turnover for his team.

As usual with Cardiff, bad always follows good and this time it was Sidoli gifting three points to the opposition by pulling the jumper down in the line. Totally unnecessary and totally stupid. Sidoli seems to be developing a habit with this sort of penalty. Cardiff 21 Glasgow 19.

Nathan Thomas and Martin Jones came on for Evans and Budgett.

Schubert made good yards following a loose Scottish kick and Yapp and Rhys Thomas linked well in midfield. Once more Yapp took the ball up in contact, sucking in the Scottish back row, but a lack of coordination in the back line just wasn’t working the openings. With the home side going through the phases, Lee Thomas lost patience and fluffed his dinked kick into the Glaswegian 22. More patience needed. Nevertheless, shoddy handling by the visitors gifted the ball to Thomas again as the center hacked the ball through to within 10m of the try line.

Inexplicably, the visitors were intent on running the ball from defence and some good tackling by Macleod coupled with miracle work by RST at the breakdown turned the ball over. But after phase after phase of recycled ball, RST finally turnover possession himself, dropping the ball in the tackle under the Glasgow posts. Another unnecessarily penalty – this time for offside in trying to charge down a clearance kick allowed the Scots to clear their lines.

RST wasn’t finished though, and picking up the scraps at the back of the lineout he set up a ruck on the 10m line. Yapp and Fester charged and the Scots gave away one too many penalties at the breakdown. Yellow card and three points to Cardiff. 24-19.

But once more the home team demonstrated their ability to shoot themselves in the foot. Powell fired out a perfectly acceptable pass to Macleod, only for two steps and a kick to result in yet another charge down. Dear me. This was close to suicide. Lee Thomas was forced to carry the ball over his own line, and the Scots had a five yard scrum.

But with Macleod and RST once more to the fore in defence, the home team managed to push the laboured back line backwards with a series of tenacious tackles. Good driving by Schubert and smart thinking by Powell and suddenly Freddie was away! Pushing off two tacklers he needlessly kicked the ball away – straight to touch. With time almost up in the clock, the golden rule is to keep hold of possession, but that lack of control was proving Cardiff’s undoing. Glasgow attacked from the lineout, but excellent mauling from Yapp ripped the ball away to touch. Back came Glasgow, but with excellent tackles from Fester, Yapp and Freddy, they lacked any penetration and were forced to kick the ball away. Game over.

So more progress for Cardiff. Young is building a solid pack with the front five looking particularly well balanced. If he selects by form and forces payers like Gareth Williams and Deiniol Jones to win their way back when they perform as subs, then the pack will only get stronger. We can only hope he’s selecting the side and not Ruddock. As for Yapp and RST, their performances were revelations – Gethin Jenkins and Martyn Williams should struggle to get back in the side after this 80 minutes.

Although individual performance were good, the team is still not functioning as a unit. Cardiff desperately need more control at half back and some leadership in these position would help the team vary their play, and vary their tempo. Furthermore, everything is so slow at the moment – Dai Young must encourage a higher tempo at key times to increase the pressure on the opposition.

But the most important issue is to cut down on the unnecessary errors that players are making. You could almost go through the whole team and catalogue when each player gave away possession or a crucial penalty unnecessarily when the team was pressing the opposition. This has nothing to do with the coach – it’s down to the players to improve on their approach and concentrate!!

15
Craig Morgan
7
/10
One miserable dropped catch aside, he had a solid game. His work load was excellent and his kicking out of hand pretty good (one or two fluffs aside). Let’s hope that when he returns to his natural wing position he’ll still go looking for work as much as he’s doing now.
14
Freddy Tuilagi
7
/10
Freddy wakes up! At last! Whether making big tackles in defence or actually taking the ball into contact, Freddy finally seems to have discovered an appetite for the game. Still liable to drop a catch, or kick the ball dead, he’s at least looking for work and looks seriously up for it.
13
Shaun James
6
/10
Ran hard and straight into space and caused a real headache for the Scots. However, needs to look for support players a little more often in order to keep the ball alive.
12
Lee Thomas
5
/10
Some poor defensive lapses almost cost his team dearly. Had a quiet game, and almost kicked all his points.
11
Dean Dewdney
5
/10
A few too many errors – most noticeably in defence. In attack he also lost the ball in contact and made some poor tactical decision making.
10
Nick Macleod
6
/10
Huge work rate and extremely solid in defence. A lovely balanced runner, he still doesn’t seem confident at game making and his decision making is not what it should be. Almost cost his team the game with a schoolboy charge down.
9
Richard Malcolm Smith
6
/10
Made a telling contribution with the try for Freddy and his speed and vision always looked a threat. However, for someone of his experience, he still lacks the game making presence and leadership you need from a scrum half – something that was immediately noticeable when Powell came on.
8
Kort Schubert
6
/10
Some good support for the ball carrier – particularly in tight positions. Missed one kick off but after that was very solid. Ran well with ball in hand, but still needs to make more of an impact in defence. Looks suspect around the fringes and needs to work on the tackles.
7
Robin Sowden-Taylor
8
/10
Excellent performance from the player we’ve been crying out to see all season. Phenomenal work rate and excellent tackle count. Sometimes his over exuberance costs Cardiff penalties, but his commitment and fitness level was top class. With Cardiff’s front five looking so solid, is now the time to pick RST and Martyn Williams in tandem?
6
Nathan Budgett
2
/10
After last week’s very solid performance, Budgett was a bit of a passenger in this game. Barely touched the ball, and was AWOL in defence. In the lineout he did some work, but at the scrum his position was not good. A disappointment in the position in which Cardiff are weakest.
5
Robert Sidoli
6
/10
The appetite has returned and we’ve finally found a mobile second row who can win good line out ball. However, he’s still too loose and needs to work harder to suck in back row defences rather than play it so loose. Please cut down on the unnecessary penalties, Sid!
4
Craig Quinnell
8
/10
Inspired decision by Young to make him captain. Where have all the yellow cards gone, Fester? When carrying the ball in attack Fester is an essential battering ram for Cardiff. In defence, his tackle count is high and he’s a real nuisance at the breakdown. He’s now playing some of the best rugby he’s ever done at Cardiff – somebody persuade him not to retire at the end of the season!!
3
Ben Evans
5
/10
Scrum was solid and even managed to carry the ball once or twice. However, there’s more work to be done around the field and he gave away an unnecessary penalty.
2
Thomas Rhys Thomas
7
/10
Mr 100% at the lineout. In the tight he’s a formidable opponent, whether carrying the ball or in defence. Work rate could improve though, and he needs to look for the ball more. However, what a relief to be guaranteed of your lineout ball. His performances just make you think what could have been against Stade Francais.
1
John Yapp
9
/10
Look out Gethin Jenkins! You are the second best loose head at Cardiff at the moment. Yapp was everywhere in this game – Cardiff major ball carrier and powerful scrummager. In defence, his tackle count was way above what you would expect for a loose head.