Cardiff

k.o. time: 2:05 pm

6 October, 2013

Cardiff Arms Park

Spectators: 7,245

Edinburgh
referee
George Clancy
2
/10

Clancy has a total lack of empathy for the game. His refereeing of the breakdown is random and his ability to create something entertaining for the spectators is completely lacking. He refs in a vacuum - randomly picking penalties out of thin air to keep the peace.

weather
Sunny and Dry
worth annoying the wife factor
5
/10
our man of the match
Alex Cuthbert
scorers
Alex Cuthbert (2)
Leigh Halfpenny (2)
Leigh Halfpenny (5)
our choice for next week

vs Exeter

k.o. time: 12:45 pm

13 October, 2013

Sandy Park

15
Leigh Halfpenny
14
Alex Cuthbert
13
Cory Allen
12
Dafydd Hewitt
11
Harry Robinson
10
Rhys Patchell
9
Lloyd Williams
8
Andries Pretorius
7
Sam Warburton
6
Josh Navidi
5
Filo Paulo
4
Bradley Davies
3
Taufa'ao Filise
2
Matthew Rees
1
Gethin Jenkins

Cardiff made hard work of dispatching a limited Edinburgh side, settling for two tries when four were on the table. Basic skills are lacking in a back line that doesn’t play as a unit. The half backs are crabbing across the pitch all too often, and Patchell – for all his skills – seems to have no idea how to use his two centres. As a result, there’s a lot of huffing and puffing by individuals, but little in the nature of team work. One wonders how long Tulip needs in order to create some understanding between 9, 10, 12 and 13 – they must have been playing together for years at junior level, right? That back line – with Cuthbert and Halfpenny in tandem – should be ripping teams apart, but all too often they are playing like individuals.

The Game started brightly with Cardiff stringing the phases well together. A great catch from Pretorious and Filise again carrying well showed that the forwards' energy levels were up. Clancy came up with a penalty for not releasing and Halfpenny put Cardiff into the lead.

Cuthbert was again looking for work and Owen Williams' creative brain was at work again - consistently running good lines. Some great jackling by Warbuton and Halfpenny took the lead to 6-0.

Although individuals were stepping up, as a team, things were not functioning so well. Simple things lack an aggressive chase to the kick are still sadly missing. Edinburgh guilty of attacking the wrong wing with Cuthbert putting in the necessary tackles. Cuthbert again went looking for work only for the attack to stutter with a horrendous pass from Patchell (though to be fair to him there was no one in his back line lookin for the pass and attacking the ball).

More excellent jackling from Warburton set up Halfpenny again and the full back should have made it 6-0, missing a fairly straightforward kick from 40 metres.

Then Gethin stepped up at the breakdown and won another turnover following excellent aggression in the tackle from Filo. But unfortunately, Allen kicked the ball away when he should have kept it in hand.

Edinburgh - on the other hand - continued their unsuccessful attack on Cuthbert’s wing and with Halfpenny taking the ball at first five eights and Patchell in the centre, Cardiff's counter attacks were developing some penetration.

But on the whole, passing and handling skills were poor - from both sides. Rees lost the ball in contact and Clancy somehow missed a massive forward pass in the centre from Edinbugh. Then Clancy somehow penalized Navidi who was jackling on his feet at Edinburgh piled off theirs at the ruck. Poor refereeing. A great kick from Laidlaw and Edinburgh succeeded where Halfpenny had failed and the scores were level.

Back came Cardiff and wonderful work from the ever-athletic Owen Williams at the kick off set up a half chance for Robinson as the home side sought to convert their mountain of territorial advantage into points. At the root of this failure is the worrying habit of both Lloyd Williams and Patchell of crabbing across the field with ball in hand, cutting down on the space available to the outside backs.

With the sun low in the sky, Edinburgh’s continuing use of the kick was probably designed to try to force an error from the catcher, but they weren't getting any success from Cuthbert or Halfpenny. Rees – meanwhile – was continuing to have a shocker at the lineout, throwing to players only he could see. Slow ball to static carriers was getting Cardiff nowhere, and Patchell attempted a ridiculous 47m drop goal attempt in a desperate effort to get some reward from all this possession.

Then Pretorious coughed up the ball from an up and under – ironically in the shade. Given the shear frequency of kicks, one was bound to yield something. Somehow – miraculously – Cardiff won a scrum against the head, but in another error of judgement, Robinson wasted the opportunity by kicking the ball away instead of going through the phases.

If it wasn’t the poor handling, it was the poor decision making that was Cardiff’s worst enemy. Enter Clancy again with another highly technical penalty against Halfpenny for coming in at the side of a ruck and Edinburgh were suddenly in the lead having done nothing but kick the ball away. Admittedly, they’d kick the ball away better than the home side, in fairness.

Some creative kicks off from Cardiff kept the opposition guessing, but then Clancy again intervened with a penalty at a ruck – this time against Edinburgh. All we wanted was decent handling and a flowing game – not Clancy looking for technical infringement and stopping the game. This time Halfpenny didn’t miss and the scores were level. 6-6.

Then suddenly from broken play a kick and chase from Robinson saw the ball bounce nicely into his arms and he fed the ever-willing Owen Williams on his shoulder. The big man raced towards the posts and from the ensuing ruck, Filo fed Cuthbert for one of the best finishers in the game to score in the corner. An excellent conversion from the touch line and the home team were 13-6 up.

Almost straight form the kick off and Navidi was very lazy after the tackle – gifting Edinburgh three points. 13-9. This sort of sloppy unprofessionalism must have Tulip pulling his hair out. Ill disciplined idiocy is the last thing you need when you’ve just scored a rare try.

Then sadly Owen Williams left the field just after the half hour with Hewitt taking his place.

Edinburgh - meanwhile - continued to focus on their kicking game – one of the few areas where they had a clear advantage over the home side. Trying to force errors and penalties from the ever willing Clancy was the main tactic. Sure enough, it may have taken them 37 minutes to actually get into the Cardiff 22, but Clancy came up with another penalty against Sam (clearly on his feet jackling over the ball) at a ruck.

Would the second half see an improvement on basic skills? Uh, no. More aerial ping pong blighted the start and then a sloppy high tackle from Bradley and Edinburgh really should have taken the straightforward three points on offer, but Laidlaw hit the upright and Cardiff got out of gaol. They really were their own worst enemies.

With one of the clearest double movements you are ever likely to see, an Edinburgh player lying flat on his stomach place the ball over the line. So much for being out of the game when you’re on the floor! Clancy really excelled himself in missing that one with the video ref having to come to his rescue.

Copeland came on for Pretorious as Bradley knocked on at a ruck, and it was difficult to see what was worse – Cardiff’s half-hearted kick and chase or the abysmal handling skills of yet another Scottish backline.

Clancy was as consistent as purple monkey in a dishwasher and he wasn’t too keen on the scrum either. He contrived a penalty to Cardiff at one scrum which enabled Halfpenny to edge the home side into a four point lead.

Great jackling from Gethin won a penalty at the breakdown – a risky venture by the loose head with Clancy ready with his pose, pause and pounce on anything that looked like a penalty. Sure enough, another ruck on the Edinburgh 22 and another penalty from Clancy. Halfpenny took the chance to take the lead to 19-12.

Marvellous work from Halfpenny and Cuthbert – linking well with Halfpenny punctured holes in the Edinburgh defence and he seemed to inspire more direct ball carriers. Clancy hadn’t been in the game for a while and when Edinburgh strayed offside, he decided on a yellow for one of Edinburgh's league of nations - their replacement lock, Cornell due Preez - and Halfpenny took the lead to 22-12.

Then, Gethin came off in a clear pre-planned move on the hour. Why? How coaches can do this is difficult to fathom. Did Tulip get the order from Team Wales? Filise just wasn’t in the game – wandering from one missed tackle to another – but somehow he got to stay on the pitch? It’s like Tulip was ignoring the performance of his players and just coaching by numbers.

With Warburton, on his feet over the ball, and an Edinburgh player refusing to release and Clancy pounced on the Lion. It really was tombola time at the ruck.

Great work by Filo in defence and Navidi was spoiled by Rees first spilling the ball and then missing his tackle. Boy was he off his game!

Then suddenly the back line clicked in the play of the game. Halfpenny again entered the line at 10 from second phase and Patchell at last made a good pass to Allen in space. A great dummy and wonderful link work from Hewitt and there was Halfpenny again coming up like a steam train – hitting the line with real pace. As he tore into the Edinburgh 22, Warburton was on his shoulder and he fed Cuthbert for the big man ran in his second try of the game. Excellent passing, players running hard onto the ball and top class support play. Let’s hope this is the sign of things to come, for it certainly was a reminder of what we used to see at CAP. A man up, Cardiff made the most of the space and they now led 29-12.

Just under 15 minutes to go – a chance of a bonus point?

As Cardiff pummeled away at the Ebinburgh defence, Bradley was penalized for holding on and the momentum was lost. Lloyd Williams should have been dictating the play, but there’s a real lack of direction at nine which means all too often control is lost.

The game was now breaking up, but Cardiff were loosing their shape. Too many forwards were taking the ball in the back line and the organization was missing. More penalties from Clancy in the red zone, but it should have been yellow as Edinburgh were holding on by their fingertips.

But slow ball at the ruck meant no penetration and the home side seemed to be just going through the motions. Desperate for some sort of control at half back, Tulip through Lewis Jones into the fight.

And then some deft footwark and handling by Patchell put Cuthbert into space and the big man charged over the line. But did he ground it? Even though the slow motion replays seemed to suggest he did, somehow the video ref ruled he didn’t. Bizarre. Again Cuthbert had taken a wonderful angle in attack and Patchell’s pass was excellent.

With five minutes left, Tuplip got rid of Rees and Filo and sent on Lou Reed and Dacey. But this weakened the scrum and Edinburgh sniffed a way to stop the chance of a bonus point. With all the changes, it was Edinburgh who were finishing the stronger – Cardiff couldn’t get hold of the ball.

The kids look underpowered in contact and lack the decision-making composure at this level. And with so many kids on the pitch, the chance went missing and Cardiff failed to add to their try count.

Tulip’s bizarre use of substitions really torpedoed any chance of a bonus point for this team. In throwing on the kids in the last 10 minutes, he ensured that Cardiff lost any sort of platform up front and the chance to unleash Cuthbert, Halfpenny and Allen was gone.

His team look like a warren full of rabbits when trying to pressure the opposition at lineout time. Frozen in the headlights, they panic. The kick-chase remains dreadful, and the scrum looks liable to fall apart once the kids get thrown on as they sorely lack the power. Where is Bourrust? How come he doesn't get a start or at least share the work load with a 37 year old Felise who clearly enjoys loose head more than tight head.

A win is a win is a win, but there was a bonus point there for the taking.

15
Leigh Halfpenny
9
/10
One missed penalty aside, an excellent performance. Steady in defence, top class kicking and a willingness to go looking for work from second phase.
14
Alex Cuthbert
10
/10
He really has the complete game – the elusiveness to beat defenders with his pace, coupled with the abrasiveness to run through people when needed. Add to that his excellent work ethic and it really was a faultless performance. One of the best finishers in the game, that back line and Patchell in particular, needs to work out a way to create space for the big man.
13
Owen Williams
6
/10
Classy player. Sadly only lasted 30 minutes.
12
Cory Allen
5
/10
Unfulfilled potential at the moment, but he’s big and strong and clearly has the brain needed to work out what needs to be done. Needs more time with those around him to work out the necessary partnerships.
11
Harry Robinson
5
/10
Busy kicking the ball and running after it, he looks very lightweight even at this level. On one occasion he was flung around like a rag doll. Ikkul Shane worked hard on his power to overcome his diminutive stature, and unless Robinson does likewise, his game is not going to progress.
10
Rhys Patchell
5
/10
Patchell’s passing is erratic at best. Aimless kick and chases down field seem to be the order of the day. He’s a hard worker, but isn’t linking well with those around him and can’t bring his centres into the game. He also seems to wander all over the pitch and lacks the discipline needed to be a consistent performer at 10. Some of this can be put down to youthful exuberance, but if he wants to make the step to the next level, then there needs to be far more discipline to his game. He has all the skills but without guidance and direction from good coaches, he’s not going to make the transition needed.
9
Lloyd Williams
5
/10
Needs to do a lot, lot more. Given the experience he now has at the top level, he really should be bossing his team far more than he does now. He should be controlling the game, dictating the tactics and showing leadership. Instead, he just seems to be making up the numbers.
8
Andries Pretorius
4
/10
Needs to start doing something.
7
Sam Warburton
8
/10
Wonderful work at the breakdown, too good for Clancy. Some excellent power tackling and great support for Cuthbert’s try.
6
Josh Navidi
6
/10
An industrious and hard work whether in attack or defence but still looks underpowered. Coughed up one dreadful penalty during the game shortly after his team had scored their first try.
5
Filo Paulo
6
/10
Getting the ball ripped off you by the opposition winger is not something to be proud of. Still he made some strong contributions in defence with a number of big hits that led to valuable turnover ball.
4
Bradley Davies
6
/10
There’s no way Cardiff are even working on trying to pressurize opposition lineouts. They just make a half hearted attempt to jump – without really attacking the ball. This means the opposition are basically enjoying a freebee. Come on Brad – sort it out!
3
Taufa'ao Filise
3
/10
Fell off a few too many tackles in defence. Takes an age to get up and walk back into the defensive line. Needs a rest. And a pipe. And slippers.
2
Matthew Rees
3
/10
Lost the ball in contact on countless occasions and his throwing in at the lineout was still eratic. Sheparding a rolling maul seems to be his favoured position.
1
Gethin Jenkins
5
/10
One great jackle aside, he coasted through without making too much of an effort. Was Tulip under orders to take him off after an hour?