Cardiff

k.o. time: 6:30 pm

23 November, 2013

Cardiff Arms Park

Spectators: 6,122

Munster
referee
David Wilkinson
3
/10
Weak in the first half and then over fussy in the second. Completely the wrong way around
weather
Dry and cold
our man of the match
Sam Hobbs
scorers
Kristian Dacey (1)
Simon Humberstone (1)
Simon Humberstone (1)
our choice for next week

vs Benetton

k.o. time: 5:00 pm

30 November, 2013

Stadio Monigo

15
Dan Fish
14
Richard Smith
13
Aled Summerhill
12
Tom Pascoe
11
Chris Czekaj
10
Gareth Davies
9
Alex Walker
8
Robin Copeland
7
Josh Navidi
6
Andries Pretorius
5
James Down
4
Macauley Cook
3
Benoit Bourrust
2
Rhys Williams
1
Sam Hobbs

So welcome to Roger’s vision of the future. Whilst the better players are off playing better rugby elsewhere, two second teams fight it out to see which team can be worse. Over 6,000 people turned up to watch this game live, no doubt spurred outside as that was the only place to avoid the Dr Who festival on TV. The irony is not lost. The Cardiff team used to be a “Who’s Who” of Welsh rugby but this outfit is best described just as “Who?”

As we walked to the ground we saw the Tardis parked on the top of Cardiff Castle. What we’d give to be able to go back in time to that dreadful decision in 1999 to return to Welsh rugby for this kind of display is what that decision has brought. Whilst other leagues have gone from strength to strength, the Welsh are getting weaker each week to the point where even Munster 2nds are way too good an opponent. The shocking thing, of course, is that next season (if there is a next season) the Cardiff team we saw would be of equal quality with the best team the club can put out. It makes you wonder if it is all worth it.

The Cardiff team which took the field had a Rags like quality about it. Even at outside half we saw a first start for the Pontypridd player, Simon Humberstone. He is 26 and is training part time whilst working full time. Yes….. exactly. This is what it has come to.

Gone are the days where there was a strong Kiwi backbone to the team during the international windows (Instead, one of those Kiwis, Laulala, was in the opposition team) to bring on the younger players and to improve their game. Now, the Kiwi influence comes from “Defence Coach” Dale McIntosh. Yes…. Exactly.

The game started with an athletic catch from Copeland that turned into a ruck which Munster disrupted with ease. And so the constant theme of the season was reset – Cardiff being unable to adequately compete at the breakdown. A filthy high tackle from the resulting phase play (no ground made, of course) saw a chance for Humberstone to kick at goal but he failed with the distance from inside the 10m line. He soon had another chance from the other side of the pitch as yet more Cardiff phase play of no yards gained saw Munster concede an obvious penalty. Yet he chose to not kick at goal, Cardiff went for the corner, Czekaj missed the kick and the rugby was crap. We’re not even 5 minutes in to the game at this point…..

Things quickly stayed the same. A line out knock on, Lewis Jones fumbling a feed from his number 8, Czekaj dropping a simple pass in midfield, even Laulala was joining in with the knocks on and he eventually chucked a pass straight into touch.

This was desperate stuff.

After a dozen minutes the scoring was finally started with an easy shot from straight in front of the posts after Munster conceded what must have been their fifth cheap, cheating penalty of the game. There was an obvious opportunity for a yellow card against a Munster player for an early high tackle but when the ref bottles out of giving a yellow for an obvious ruck offence, a multiple offence, right in front of the posts then you know the game is going to be dreadful.

Munster soon scored their first try courtesy of a Jones being unable to feed the ball straight into the scrum, Gavin Evans slipping, Tom Williams being unable to tackle and Cardiff generally being garbage. Laulala had drifted outside of Evans to create the space and he fed the full back to race in. Simple, schoolboy stuff, seemingly too good for the schoolboys in the Cardiff team.

Cardiff could not get a platform to attack from as the ref was completely incapable of noticing Munster’s deliberate wheel policy at every scrum. On the only scrum they decided to push straight they were able to push Cardiff off their own ball. Yes, that’s right, a Munster scrum pushing the opposition off the ball. How embarrassing.

It got worse, of course.

A Munster driving line out completely destroyed the Cardiff pack and allowed Varley to stroll through to score. It gets really tedious seeing Cardiff players give their all but be so unable to physically complete in any kind of physical confrontation. The pack try their best but simply cannot win a contest. Varley was able to stroll through a breakdown to be faced by an 11 stone scrum half who is so cruelly out of his depth at this level as to make the contest seem unfair.

It really was pitiful stuff.

It got worse, of course. Cardiff somehow scrambled the ball from a Munster attack in the Cardiff 22 only for Humberstone to have his kick charged down by the Munster scrum half. He collected the ball, Munster spread it wide and the loose head prop ran in unopposed to score. It’s now 3-21 and oblivion is being stared into.

We had seen half an hour of a display which highlighted the large gap in basic skill levels between the teams. Munster could pass a ball for the player to run on to, Cardiff pass the ball above the player’s head so he loses momentum to catch it. Munster players take the pass at the right angle and look to use the ball, Cardiff players look to ship it on so they don’t have to make a decision. Munster players hit the breakdown at all angles when in attack and protect their ball, Cardiff players hit the breakdown and break down. Or bounce off.

Make no bones about it, this was men versus boys.

Munster ended the scoring in the first half with a simple penalty in front of the posts after Jones was penalised for not being able to put the ball straight into the scrum. This is a bit harsh from the referee because, as the game went on, it was clear to see that the ball is too big for Jones. He needs to be using a size 3 ball or something. It’s no wonder he can’t put the ball in straight as it is too heavy for him.

So it is now 3-24 and the clown on the Mic shouts “Come on Arms Park, get behind the Blues”. Well, well. The only people “getting behind the Blues” are the Munster back line. Half time was a welcome opportunity to reassess the value of watching Dr Who…….

The second half started as the first half ended with Humberstone being charged down, missing touch with his kick and Cardiff generally being dreadful. Lauala again got on the outside of the Cardiff defence, again fed the full back who, this time, fed the winger to score. It was now 3-31.

Cardiff had a flow of play but, of course, didn’t get anywhere near the line but the smallest sniff of opportunity was crushed by a cheap Munster offence. Munster knew that they were never in danger of losing a player so all they had to do was to wait until the Cardiff half backs screwed it up. They never had to wait long. But, shock of shocks, the ref did produce a yellow card to Munster’s number 8 (40 minutes too late) and Cardiff were able to scramble Dacey over the line from a driving line out.

After this we saw more of the same other than a strange change in the Cardiff back line. Suddenly, they were so deep that they were almost in Sophie Gardens when attacking St Mary Street. This meant that little Lewis had to wind those arms up even further to throw the ball and he took twice as long doing it. Each time he gets the ball he puts in a huge step to steady himself to pass it. By God, it’s tough to watch.

This is a Cardiff team playing an awful brand of repetitive rugby that is really difficult to watch. The constant desire to recycle is built on an inability to win a physical contest. The players are under powered, are under performing, are clearly lacking in confidence and are dreadfully coached. Really badly coached. Yes, there are players there who aren’t good enough for this level but that doesn’t excuse being so far off the pace as a team.

Davies has picked how he wants to play the game and is desperately trying to fit players into that style. That way of coaching rarely works without extreme luck and it is clear that it is not working at Cardiff.

15
Tom Williams
1
/10
His kicking game is awful, he has the presence of a baby lamb in the contact area. He's clearly a wing who should be playing there with Czekaj at full back. A dreadful selection
14
Richard Smith
3
/10
Lots of effort and energy. He likes to leave his wing to look for work and does seem more comfortable when playing in the centre. Can't blame the effort, just the result.
13
Gavin Evans
12
Dafydd Hewitt
3
/10
It's an interesting tactic to play a crash ball 12 in a very deep lying back line and, guess what, it doesn't work. Hewitt is, like the others, keen but ultimately ineffective.
11
Chris Czekaj
1
/10
A very poor peformance of poor kicking, poor handling and not great tackling.
10
Simon Humberstone
1
/10
As you'd expect from a player not used to this level, he was out of his depth. He played too deep, took little responsibility, kicked poorly and was often charged down.
9
Lewis Jones
8
Robin Copeland
3
/10
A man clearly frustrated by his team mates' inability to create a platform for him to play like Owain Williams. Kicking the ball directly into touch at the end of the game sums it up.
7
Josh Navidi
4
/10
A typical Navidi performance. He is Mr. Consistent. It gets boring watching him getting smashed in the contact area. We've had years of seeing it now and it ain't gonna change.
6
Andries Pretorius
2
/10
A player really going backwards, quickly. Caught out often by the Munster 9 and no longer a great presence with the ball in hand.
5
James Down
4
/10
Just like Navidi, he plays with the same energy and spirit each game but he really needs another stone on him. Just not strong enough.
4
Macauley Cook
4
/10
Is he a 6 or a 4? Or neither? From his style of play, he needs to put on two stone and commit to the second row.
3
Taufa'ao Filise
3
/10
Another shift of not too much from a very old man. Rating Filise is a bit like expecting that race horse to win one more race before heading off to stud. You hope, but it's ultimately pointless.
2
Kristian Dacey
4
/10
Needs about four stone on him. He's an openside flanker at WP level, not a hooker at professional level.
1
Sam Hobbs
4
/10
A captain's performance... Well, almost. Just like the rest of his team mates in trying very hard but succeeding in only trying the patience of the supporter.