Cardiff

28 November, 2014

Cardiff Arms Park

Spectators: 5,028

Benetton
referee
Andrew McMenemy
6
/10
He tried to get the game flowing and he allowed much to go unpunished but there was an equal distribution of his humour in this regard. He could have penalised both teams off the park had he lost that sense of humour.
our man of the match
Joaquin Tuculet
scorers
Lloyd Williams (1)
Joaquin Tuculet (1)
Richard Smith (1)
Kristian Dacey (1)
Rory Watts-Jones (1)
Gareth Anscombe (1)
Gareth Davies (3)
The quality of the rugby on show was poor and was fitting of the basement battle, during the Welsh international window, of the worst top flight professional league in Europe but Cardiff did what they needed to do by winning the game 5-0 in terms of league points. This was their first league win at home of the season and it was telling that fewer turned up to watch it than watched the LV= Llanelli game. \r\n\r\nBefore the game we knew that the two teams possessed two of the worst defensive records in the Pro12 and, in all fairness, they each spent 80 minutes trying to prove that their defence was worse than that of their opponents. It was truly dreadful stuff and only Cardiff’s complete lack of any midfield backs kept the scoreboard sane. Outside of Anscombe, there is no pace, no guile, little invention and less hope. \r\n\r\nLast week’s game was all about Anscombe’s debut but this week we had his first start at 10 PLUS the debut of Tuculet from Argentina, at 15. How thrilling. At 15 Anscombe looked good but at 10 he spent 40 minutes (before leaving at half time with a dead leg, which could easily have been a dead soul after realizing what he has let himself in for) wondering where the rest of his back line was. At 15, however, Tuculet was very good. \r\n\r\nWhen Anscombe started at 10 for his “region” in New Zealand, he had as his centre options Robbie Freuan and Bundee Aki. On Friday night, he was partnered with Robbie Coltrane and Al Bundy such was the comedy served up. As Anscombe took the ball to the gain line he looked, as per habit, for his team mates but no centre was with him. His offloads could only go to forwards, tight to the previous ruck, and width was nowhere to be seen. It was painful. \r\n\r\nThankfully, however, there is hope for the future (well, this season at least) as Tuculet looks to be a real talent and should feature in the centre. His left boot will be useful, as will his pace off the mark and willingness to take the ball aggressively into contact. If Cardiff can ever get both Argentinians, Cuthbert with his dummy sellotaped to this face, Allen, Anscombe and Patchell on the pitch at the same time then we have hope. \r\n\r\nThis game against the Italians, however, was hopeless. The Italians had worked out that Cardiff have no ability to defend a driving maul so their tactic was to catch and drive until winning a penalty, and then to do it again. In fairness, outside of Carlisle at 10, there wasn’t a lot more they could have done. \r\n\r\nCardiff scored the first try of the game despite being down to 14 at the time. Cook had been sin binned for slapping down a pass interception under his posts but this didn’t prevent his team mates putting together something like 15 phases of play in the Treviso 22. It was marching rugby (left, right, left, right) until Lloyd Williams remembered that scrum halfs can still throw a dummy and he darted over to make it 7-3.\r\n\r\nThe ball retention from Cardiff was very good (against this defensive line) but the end result was often missing. Phase after phase allowed Smith to go close before being penalised for holding on, but the offload game was prominent and the players looked cohesive at least. However, as ever when luck doesn’t go your way, Treviso scored the next try of the game after an outrageous bounce from a chip ahead from Carlisle saw the ball bounce away from Anscombe and into the hands of the Treviso 10. It was now 7-10.\r\n\r\nThis sparked off the Tuculet show for full effect as he was the next try scorer. He looked good under the high ball, comfortable with the ball in hand, strong into contact and doesn’t lack pace. After a series of drives, followed by scrums, in the Treviso 22 he was the beneficiary of a simple mispass to dive into the corner for his try. It was a truly shocking piece of defence from Treviso but what else would you expect?\r\n\r\nThis should have seen Cardiff hold the lead at half time but Anscombe missed the conversion and the Achilles heel of that driving line out allowed Carlisle another penalty to make it 12-13. It should have been worse at half time but Treviso fluffed a simple move in the Cardiff 22 by knocking on. At times it was a competition to see who could be worse in attack and defence. It was very poor rugby.\r\n\r\nAnscombe was off at half time, Adam Jones soon followed after his contribution (according to ESPNScrum) of two tackles made and one missed in 46 minutes. The first showing of Mitchell, instead of Jones, allowed Cardiff to take control of the scrums and this led them to take control of the scoreboard. Soon after Hobbs was replaced by Davies which, oddly, seemed to improve the scrum whilst Treviso were dragging up any Argentinian with an Italian passport.\r\n\r\nAs Navidi shone as a ball carrier at 8, the route up the middle proved valuable for Cardiff but not as valuable as Treviso being a man down because of injury. Their left wing was receiving treatment as Evans carried the ball on an awful arc that should have seen him take all space out of the game but that Treviso defence paid dividends again. The truly dreadful Jayden Hayward (isn’t he in One Direction?) lost his line, went for Evans and left Smith free for a run in. Sure, Evans freed his arms nicely in the tackle, but it was ever so easy for Cardiff. \r\n\r\nHe outdid himself moments later by allowing Dacey to stroll in nigh on unopposed from a nice line out move. The inside pass to Dacey allowed him to waltz through a most pathetic defence and he was greeted with Hayward. In honour to The Usher, Hayward directed Dacey to the try line and the game was out of reach for Treviso.\r\n\r\nOr at least it should have been but that old defensive maul weakness was to strike again for Cardiff. Treviso kicked to the corner and scored. The game was descending into farce at this point as neither team had even the most basic idea of any kind of defensive play. This was rounded off by another try from a driving lineout – this time for Cardiff as Watts-Jones was shown his way to the line.\r\n\r\nIt’s impossible to know what Hammett learned from this game that he wouldn’t already have known. There is zero ability at this level for much of his squad, in the backs at least, but it should be noted that Treviso had played 8 league games before this one and scored only 100 points in total. They scored 25 at Cardiff. They scored 13 in Swansea, 0 in Llanelli, 15 in Newport and 9 in Glasgow. So that’s about as many in Cardiff as in their three other games in Wales this season.\r\n\r\nCardiff have conceded 253 points in 9 league games. Only one team has a worse defensive record – Treviso. Llanelli are averaging 10 fewer points conceded per game than are Cardiff. \r\n\r\nSurely the time must be running out for McIntosh?\r\n\r\n
15
Joaquin Tuculet
8
/10
This was an impressive debut, more so when you consider that he’s signed to primarily play in the centre. His game will definitely be needed there but he’s unlikely to be available for Europe.
14
Richard Smith
6
/10
The bloke really does have a go, he doesn’t shirk and he doesn’t hide. It’s difficult to shine when on the wing in a poor team but, for his limited talent, he serves the team well.
13
Adam Thomas
12
Gavin Evans
5
/10
He gave two try scoring passes so, fair’s fair, there should be credit for that but the rest of his play (although there’s no doubt of his effort) is really missing.
11
Geraint Walsh
1
/10
Fills the shirt.
10
Gareth Anscombe
6
/10
There’s talent there but the talent can’t really be judged until he is given a centre pairing that will allow him an adequate passing option. He left the field at half time with a dead leg.
9
Lloyd Williams
6
/10
One of his best games in a long while simply because the buzz of energy around the contact area was noticeable. He can put pace on the ball and he can control the play, he just needs to show and direct it weekly.
8
Josh Navidi
6
/10
He’s good as an 8 but he still needs a couple of stone extra on him. He likes the rough and tumble of the ball carry and he shows good determination in getting over the gain line.
7
Ellis Jenkins
6
/10
Another up and down performance that shows he’s still learning at this level. He is a complete pain for the opposition at the contact area but his composure can still be lacking.
6
Macauley Cook
6
/10
He gets about and puts in a real shift. He’s looking more and more suited to the rangy 6 role but he needs to add an aggressive ball carrying option to his game.
5
Josh Turnbull
6
/10
Definitely better at lock in that the more disciplined role seemed to give him more focus. He’ll need a long stretch there, and some more kilos, but the basis is definitely good enough to work from.
4
Filo Paulo
3
/10
So much promise but so little delivery. You can almost hear him think when he has the ball in hand whereas he needs to be told to go out and smash people. He could be the new Craig Quinnell if he knuckled down.
3
Adam Bomber Jones
3
/10
Outshone by Mitchell when he arrived in the scrum and sadly lacking around the park.
2
Kristian Dacey
4
/10
Again outmuscled in the contact area as there seems to be no improvement in that facet of play. Sure, he scored a nice try but he still looks like a back row player trying to play hooker, even after all this time.
1
Sam Hobbs
4
/10
One of his quieter games, as he was also outshone by his replacement both at scrum time and in the loose.