Cardiff

k.o. time: 7:15 pm

25 August, 2006

Cardiff Arms Park

Spectators: 5,890

Bristol
referee
Nigel Owens
8
/10
Got absolutely no help from his touch judge which clearly hampered his best efforts to keep the game flowing. Did well to away yellow cards for negative play (from both sides). Other than the constant offside of the Bristol back line and the lack of straight throws all game, put in a refreshing performance. Next week we're back to the Scots. How depressing is that?
worth annoying the wife factor
5
/10
our man of the match
Marc Stcherbina
general comment

You had to be a purist to enjoy this one. Bristol play a very, very limited game. There is no width at all, and their tactics are built around looking for contact around the breakdown. Strange is a kicking outside half and the pace in their back line is much better when they don't have the ball as opposed to when the do have the ball. But, they play well within their limitations, play for 90 minutes(!) and don't take any risks. All very professional/very boring.

scorers
Nick Macleod (1)

Cardiff\'s miserable record against Bristol continues with another defeat against one of their nearest rivals at a wet and miserable CAP. Fielding a real Dad\'s Army where Llewellyn is actually old enough to be Bradley Davies\' father, the old heads had sufficient discipline and control to hold out against constant Cardiff pressure for an hour, and then scored two tries in the closing minutes to win by a flattering score line. It was a victory for dogged determination over wild, unstructured enthusiasm of youth.

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If this really was a game of youth vs experience, Cardiff\'s young half backs were the best example of why chucking raw kids into the professional game simply isn\'t the best way to win game. Wayne Evans may well turn out to be a good rugby player in five years time, but against seasoned professionals playing a tight - but ultimately limited - style of rugby, he (with Gareth Williams) was at the root of Cardiff\'s failure to convert the pressure they exerted into points.

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Evans\' passing was simply dreadful all game. Not only was it inaccurate, it was also so slow that Rosie had no space. Add this to the outside half\'s own slow speed of pass and Cardiff\'s back line was as fertile as a eunuch\'s convention in a nunnery. Shanklin - playing at outside centre - was ineffective with ball in hand. Whilst his defence was strong, he didn\'t show any sign of pace. When in space, he immediately looked for his winger instead of committing the defence himself.

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As for Evans ability to commit the opposition back row, well, he simply didn\'t try to make a break until the closing minutes. As a result, the defence was able to spread out across the pitch and wait for the ball. As a kicker, he contributed absolutely nothing throughout the game. With half backs this poor, it was not wonder that Cardiff succumbed to the bookmakers\' favourite for relegation from the Zurich Premiership.

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A second - and hardly shocking - glaring weakness from this game was the failure of Gareth Williams to find his man in the lineout. Young\'s loyalty is admirable, but surely the time has come to put the confidence of the team ahead of the needs of an individual player? Bewilderingly, Rush continued to opt for 5m lineouts instead of putting points on the board and actually giving his team some confidence. All the Kiwi did was to open up his hooker to more ridicule. The biggest cheer of the day was when the Oompa left the pitch.

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It seemed to matter little to Bristol that they failed to cross Cardiff\'s 22m throughout the whole of the first half. Their game is built around a disciplined defence and a very solid set piece. A kicking out side half aims to pressure the opposition, and the back line is built for offensive defence. Rushing as a unit, they easily snuffed out any sign of space in the Cardiff back line.

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So what was very clear from this game was that Cardiff\'s lack of strength in depth will once more continue to be their undoing this season. In contract - and despite the number of changes made by Richard Hill - Bristol maintained their shape, control and professionalism no matter how many substitutions were made. Players slotted into their required role and the machine continued to move.\r\nThis was a tough attritional affair and precisely what Young would have wanted following Worcester\'s no-show last weekend. Bristol\'s pragmatism contrasted strongly with Cardiff\'s rather naive approach as the visitors kicked every penalty on offer to them. Likewise, they were able to infringe without reproach, as Rush eschewed a kick at goal.

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As the game wore on and Cardiff\'s attempts at scoring became even more ineffective, the team fell apart and the self belief evaporated. Bristol\'s more professional approach of limited ambition but control was ideally placed to swoop on this frailty and the visitors scored two tries in the final minutes as Young\'s ragged \"team\" succumbed to Bristol pressure for just about the first time in the game.\r\nThis should be a lesson for the youngsters, but it seems doubtful whether they will or even can, heed it. Last season saw a tough physical battle which was only settled with a last minute drop goal. Bristol\'s rushed defence snuffed out Cardiff\'s attacking efforts. Poor defensive work between full back and winger gifted the opposition a try. The Oompalumpa had a dreadful day in the lineout, and Llewellyn outplayed Cardiff\'s young second row. \"One-up rugby\" was the order of the day from the home side and a lack of professionalism cost Cardiff a victory.

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So, one year on, what\'s changed? What did the coaching team learn from the game in Bristol almost a year ago to the day? How did they prepare for this game to counteract Bristol\'s style?

15
Rhys Williams
2
/10
If there were signs last week that Rhys was finally regaining some confidence, then they soon disappeared in this game. Frankly speaking, Cardiff have NO counter attacking potential at all. Rhys' lack of confidence filters down throughout the team. Czekaj looked mighty uncomfortable playing with him. His pace is still there, but he probably needs to drop down a level and play a couple of games for the rags in order to remember how to beat a man. Bristol/Strange soon worked out (as did many teams in Europe last season), that Cardiff's defence is very poor when the ball is kicked over the wingers head between him and Rhys Williams.
14
Mosese Luvetasau
4
/10
Moses has massive kahunas and fears nothing. The way he attacks contact with relish is truly inspirational and reminds us of the early Dan Baugh. But he's equally as raw. He has pace aplenty, but his positional skills are more than dodgy and kicking is for wusses. In defence, he's prone to rush up kamikaze style.
13
Tom Shanklin
12
Marc Stcherbina
8
/10
Losing count of the number of times that Stich rescued Cardiff during the game is becoming all too frequent an occurrence. He has the kicking skills Cardiff need from an inside centre (particularly with Rosie at outside half) - now Young and Howley have to work out how to use him better.
11
Chris Czekaj
5
/10
Just a kid hanging around on the wing and waiting for the ball. Do you blame him for the defensive confusion, or the ex-Wales full back?
10
Nick Macleod
3
/10
Poor Rosie. Such a lovely runner in space and one of Cardiff's few potential counter-attacking threats, he's stuck at outside half where he's worse than ineffective. At this rate, his confidence is going to be so shot to pieces that he won't even be able to play full back.
9
Wayne Evans
1
/10
What the hell was this kid doing in this game? Just how on earth did anyone at the club think he was good enough to play at this standard. All he did all game was pass badly - no box kicks, no touch kicks, no tackling and his first attempt at a break (and that was from loose play) was on 90 minutes! Someone should call the RSPCC for the way he was thrown in at the deep end. If this is the sort of player the Premiership is producing, then it clearly doesn't work. The kid couldn't pass water. Rosie was getting man and ball all game and the whole Bristol defence could shuffle across the pitch safe in the knowledge that Evans would never make a break. Let's not get too defensive about Evans. He is just about a year younger than Piri Weepu.
8
Xavier Rush
8
/10
Yet another outstanding 40 minutes from the player who just about held up the Bristol pack on his own in the first half. In defence his contribution is enormous, and physically he was the most impressive player on the pitch. All Cardiff need is another seven like him the pack'll be OK.
7
Robin Sowden-Taylor
6
/10
Started extremely well and won so many turnovers, but faded in the last 20 minutes. Not match fit?
6
Mark Lewis
1
/10
Lewis has clearly worked hard in the gym and bulked up a lot. Either that, or he's bought some really big shoulder pads. So good on ya, Mark. However, as a rugby player, will somebody please tell me what he contributes? He didn't take a pass all game. Did he make a tackle? There's more dog in a chihuahua. Simply not up to it at this level.
5
Robert Sidoli
4
/10
There is non leadership from Sid at all during the game. He throws himself around in the lineout, and actually made another big tackle this weekend. But you'd expect more from a player of his experience. Sid, please convince us that you're not just here to pick up your cheque at the end of the month.
4
Bradley Davies
4
/10
Scrummaging looks very suspect and there's little support for his props. Can't remember him taking a catch in the lineout all game. In the lose, he's excellent though clearly not yet physically up to this sort of level. Last about 30 minutes, tops. Still, he could be a good impact player and use the time to develop physically to meet the demands of the professional game.
3
Taufa'ao Filise
7
/10
After Rush, probably Cardiff's most effective forward. He worked tirelessly in the tight and held on well in the scrum. In the loose, he won a number of turnovers and was the pick of the two front rows.
2
Gareth Williams
1
/10
As the North Terrace said, "What's the point in picking this cowin' hooker if he can't throw the cowin' ball in properly?
1
John Yapp
4
/10
Well below par. Had a good battle with Compton and needs more games like this to toughen up. In the loose he rarely carried the ball. Needs more games.