Cardiff

k.o. time: 4:00 pm

14 September, 2014

Cardiff Arms Park

Spectators: 6,897

Glasgow
referee
John Lacey
2
/10
Some bizarre interpretations of breakdown body angles aside, including penalising fair Glasgow turnovers, he was cowardly in not sending Cuthbert (at least) to the bin. He penalised Cuthbert four times for the same offence.
weather
Balmy, sunny late summer afternoon
worth annoying the wife factor
2
/10
our man of the match
Manoa Vosawai
scorers
Rhys Patchell (4)
our choice for next week

vs Ulster

k.o. time: 7:35 pm

19 September, 2014

Cardiff Arms Park

15
Dan Fish
14
George Watkins
13
Richard Smith
12
Cory Allen
11
Adam Thomas
10
Rhys Patchell
9
Lloyd Williams
8
Manoa Vosawai
7
Ellis Jenkins
6
Jarrad Hoeata
5
Macauley Cook
4
Filo Paulo
3
Adam Bomber Jones
2
Matthew Rees
1
Taufa'ao Filise

It’s noted that the first elements a new Coach should invest in when taking over a shambles are set piece and defence. Mark Hammett has been in Cardiff for just about a month and his impact can already be seen in these areas. However, for all of the very small green shoots of recovery that those phases provide, the rest of the Cardiff game was cruelly exposed by a Glasgow team far more streetwise, far more unified and far further along the coaching cycle that provided them with the confidence to stick to their game plan.

The margin of victory was telling but Hammett can take some comfort from key ingredients in the difference between the two teams – confidence and the breakdown area. Cardiff were smashed at the contact area, with possession turned over or lost at will (as it was last week) and the knowledge of their inferiority spread through the Cardiff team. The confidence drained from the players as quickly as it took Cuthbert to act like a toddler with a tantrum, but Hammett should be confident of curing both ills.

To continue with Cuthbert, if he could throw a pass like he throws his toys then he’d be playing outside half. As it is, his reluctance to let go of the ball (either to his team mates or to the opposition in the tackle area) cost his side dearly. We thought that he was bad in Exeter last season but in this game his levels of petulance reached new heights. He was penalised multiple times by the referee for not releasing the ball (to the point where he should have been shown a yellow card for repeat infringement) and let’s hope that Hammett follows suit. Cuthbert passes the ball less frequently than even Mike Hall ever did.

The starting pack for the game included four players playing either their first or second game for the club – Turnbull, Vosawai, Hoeata and Jones – but the unity of the pack at set piece was encouraging. The game started with Cardiff showing an attacking driving lineout that hasn’t been seen in years and quickly won the chance for a shot at goal, which Patchell naturally converted.

The lead was not to be held for long, however, as Lacey enjoyed penalising the Cardiff team whenever he could. Glasgow put pace on the ball to win cheap offside penalties and the dreadful Pyrgos was able to convert a couple to push Glasgow into the lead.

Patchell’s willingness to play by himself was showing with his chips over the top, his passing skills and his desire to play to the gain line, but there was little else coming from his team mates. Their inability to win a contact area, either in attack or defence, meant that they could never exert pressure on to the Glasgow team. The Scots would simply wait for Cardiff to run into a breakdown and then steal the ball. It was so easy.

One such easy turnover, shortly before half time, saw Lamont stroll up the blindside wing to be faced only by a defending Patchell who, rather embarrassingly, was turned easily inside out by the lumbering ex-Llanelli man. Patchell was involved everywhere and we were having the Good Rhys, Bad Rhys show. Meanwhile, however, his team mates looked at each other in disbelief as they were constantly shamed by Glasgow in the tackle area.

What Glasgow seemed to do without sanction and without Cardiff working out, was to send in the first support player (when they had the ball) to tackle the Cardiff tackler. This allowed the ball handler to place the ball without interference and allowed the second support player to create the bridge. It was simple and efficient. In defence, they simply committed more numbers to the contact area and effectively counter rucked.

Therefore, for all of the excellent (and it really was excellent, a huge improvement on the previous two seasons) defence of the gain line with some brilliant tackling, Cardiff could not execute a turnover. Sure, there is a large element of Glasgow being wiser to Lacey’s interpretations, but Glasgow were simply better coached for this phase of play. They were better organised, better prepared and much better technically at the breakdown and this allowed them the 13-6 half time lead.

The second half started with some promise for Cardiff as Patchell’s kicking allowed them to close the gap to a point. The first was from well inside his own half as the Cardiff scrum dominated and won the penalty. Indeed, he failed from a similar range shortly after as, again, the scrum won penalties against the Glasgow front row. The penalty to bring them to within a point followed a yellow card for a breakdown infringement (oh, the irony) and it looked like Cardiff could convert pressure into points.

That all changed, however, with the introduction of the Fijian scrum half, Matawalu, from the Glasgow bench. He intercepted a pass from Lloyd Williams, a foolish pass, and then skillfully created (with a beautiful pass) and scored a second try not too long after to take the game from Cardiff. These scores were made whilst Glasgow was a man down following the earlier yellow card.

It summed up the game perfectly that Cardiff had no idea of how to break down the Glasgow defence even when they were missing a player, yet the Cardiff defence could last only for approximately an hour before losing shape. Glasgow’s three tries could easily be linked back to individual error (Patchell’s woeful attempted tackle, Williams’ daft pass, Thomas’ missed tackle for the third try) but that would do the visitors a disservice. They simply waited until the error was made and then ruthlessly exposed it.

Hammett has huge work to do and he knows this. He won’t have been fooled by the result in Italy and he shouldn’t have been surprised by this result, or the manner of the defeat. Of concern should be that McIntosh has supposedly been coaching the breakdown area for the last year yet it is still totally substandard.

15
Adam Thomas
4
/10
He has a decent left boot but had little opportunity to show much else. He seems to be another utility back that offers no speciality, pace or invention.
14
Alex Cuthbert
3
/10
Overly penalised, overly stroppy, overly childlike and unwilling to give up the ball. He behaved like a toddler who didn’t want to share with his friends. His willingness to take the ball into contact was matched by his unwillingness to pass it. Ever. His attitude is totally bizarre.
13
Cory Allen
3
/10
Not a great performance but given next to no attacking platform to work from. His inside backs crab his space and offer him nothing to work with. It seems odd to use Cuthbert on the crash rather than Allen.
12
Gavin Evans
2
/10
Much of the core issue of no creativity, ingenuity or guile is created by the presence of Evans. In fact, what does he bring? The defensive alignment is not great beyond the third or so phase (but improving) by which time he’s at the bottom of an ineffective ruck. There’s no kicking game, no pace. Nothing.
11
Dan Fish
3
/10
Such an “almost” player in that he’s almost good enough, almost big enough and almost a wing or almost a full back. But he ends up being much of a nothing and just needs a massive boost of confidence. Is he a wing? It doesn't look like it.
10
Rhys Patchell
4
/10
The new Nicky Robinson – sometimes extremely good but often extremely frustrating. In Patchell’s defence he has nothing to work with in this backline as the service from his 9 removes all time and space, plus his outside backs offer next to nothing in terms of angles. He has to do everything himself, all of the time. He is going to wear himself out at this rate.
9
Lewis Jones
2
/10
The energy is there, the effort is there but the talent is not. The regular incorrect decision making, the ability to kill space by crabbing across field and firing the wrong pass, the poor kicking all add up to a player not good enough.
8
Manoa Vosawai
7
/10
For an hour or so, we saw that Cardiff again (finally) had a proper number 8. His carrying was ferocious and frequent, but his tackling was supreme as he put in big hit after big hit. If he can get 80 minutes fit then he will be a real asset.
7
Sam Warburton
5
/10
When your team is annihilated at the breakdown, it’s normally the open side who is criticised but it would be unfair to target Warburton for this. He is a marked man at the contact area and Glasgow dealt with him well, making him nigh on ineffective.
6
Josh Turnbull
4
/10
A significant improvement on last week with a number of useful tackles and a genuine interest in getting involved, but there are still significant contact area weaknesses to work on. His line out work is fine but a technical 6 he is not.
5
Filo Paulo
5
/10
Again, another who improved much on the week previous but, again, another who ran out of steam in the second half. He was having constant contact with the physio team so it looked like he was carrying a knock, which wouldn’t be surprising as he flung himself into tackles and challenges.
4
Jarrad Hoeata
5
/10
For a first appearance there were promising signs of a technical player who is keen to counter ruck and be a pest to the opposition. It is way too early to judge whether his position is better at lock or blindside, but his willingness to work on the floor would suggest the latter.
3
Adam Bomber Jones
5
/10
A scrum, Cardiff have a scrum! A scrum that can win penalties and gain dominance is something we haven’t seen in years and if that is all he can bring then it will do for now. Still, right now, it is all he can bring.
2
Matthew Rees
4
/10
The obvious scrummaging apart, Rees needs to add more to his game away from the set piece. It would be great to see him lead some pick and go from the tackle area but instead we just see him one out and flopping.
1
Sam Hobbs
4
/10
Another, like Rees, who needs to offer more away from the set piece. The ball handling loose head is what is needed and Hobbs has the ability but not the execution. Hammett must get his front row working harder with the ball.