Cardiff

k.o. time: 3:15 pm

6 December, 2014

Cardiff Arms Park

Spectators: 5,430

London Irish
referee
Alexandre Ruiz
4
/10
Poor decision on Rees' yellow card. It could quite easily have been a turnover as the tackled player was held up. He was inconsistent in refusing to card Cross for a far more crass piece of play at the breakdown. An emotional referee who mixed the good with the rank. Some of his decisions stank up the place, whilst others were very good (mostly when he didn't use his whistle). Firmly second division.
weather
Dry
our man of the match
Josh Navidi
general comment

A win is a win, but there are some serious weaknesses in the squad. Anscombe showed some good touches, but his centres offer nothing. Smith is as industrious as Cuthbert is flakey. Thomas is a shirt-filler. With this sort of performance, Cardiff won't win in Grenoble.

scorers
Richard Smith (1)
Lloyd Williams (1)
Kristian Dacey (1)
Gareth Anscombe (3)
Gareth Anscombe (1)
our choice for next week

vs London Irish

k.o. time: 3:00 pm

13 December, 2014

Madejski Stadium

15
Gareth Anscombe
14
Alex Cuthbert
13
Cory Allen
12
Gavin Evans
11
Richard Smith
10
Rhys Patchell
9
Lloyd Williams
8
Manoa Vosawai
7
Josh Navidi
6
Sam Warburton
5
Josh Turnbull
4
Filo Paulo
3
Craig Mitchell
2
Kristian Dacey
1
Gethin Jenkins
Cardiff continued their winning run in the Challenge Cup with a victory over London Irish in front of a sparse home crowd at CAP. But it was all so tentative against a limited and barely-interested London Irish XV. Right from the off, loose and disorganised play blighted the home teams performance. Poor coverage from a speculative box kick followed a sloppy interception pass from Cuthbert - it looked like rugby by numbers rather than a controlled, "heads-up" approach. Sub-standard reading of the breakdown from Ellis Jenkins and London Irish had a shot at goal in under 90 seconds. Fortunately, a chronic attempt from Shane Geraghty saw the visitors pass up the chance of taking the lead. Restart kicks were hoofed down field in an effort to avoid a structured Irish defence. Whilst this guaranteed the visitors a stream of possession, they lacked the fire power to break through an organised defence. Pressure on the Irish line almost resulted in an interception by Richard Smith when the winger failed to catch a pass around his ankles. Moore poor handling in the visitors back line and Cardiff had a chance to exert pressure again in the scrum. But good work from Navidi was again undone by a sloppy pass from Cuthbert and the momentum was lost. Then Anscombe - standing very deep - fluffed his clearance kick and Cross galloped through to score. A real howler, and not the way Anscombe would have liked to start his time at CAP. But within minutes he redeemed himself with a clever chip and good reading from Smith saw him race through to collect the ball on the bounce. Dancing through a statuesque London Irish defence, the winger scored out wide on the left. He'd have had a tougher time dodging pensioners walking their dogs. Whether set play or otherwise, it was good to see an outside half reading the play and executing something different to the oft-used "bosh-up-the-middle". 7-7 on 12 minutes. The visitors had little to offer with a back line that spent more time shuffling sideways from touchline to touchline rather than going forward. It was all so lateral and easy to defend. Some of the passing skills were simply shocking - they were making Scotland's back line look impressive. Another good box kick from Lloyd Williams was this time spoiled by Navidi giving a needless penalty away right in front of the ref at the breakdown. Anscombe kicked deep for another intelligent kick. He surely hasn't had too much match experience on CAP's surface but he skidded a kick close to the touchline and with Smith racing up, the visitor's full back had no chance. London Irish's forwards exploited the robots in the Cardiff pack with some smart defence at a lineout - not binding on a maul and causing real confusion amongst the home forwards. Ruiz then sadly let himself down after what had been a promising start. Rees saw yellow for an attempt to hold up the ball carrier in what could equally have been a turnover scrum to Cardiff. There was no stream of offences from the home side, though Ruiz may have been offended that Rees questioned his decision at the previous scrum. Fortunately, Geraghty was on hand to fluff another highly kickable penalty. A rather shambolic attempt at a driving maul from a lineout fortunately won Cardiff a penalty with the ref finding an infringement from nowhere. Perhaps he was feeling guilty about Rees' yellow? But Anscombe missed the difficult touch line penalty attempt - the right decision given the home side were down to 14. Even with a new hooker, the Cardiff scrum was causing the visitors serious anguish. They kicked deep and attacked hard only for Cuthbert yet again to cough up the ball in or near contact. But for some strange reason, when a player up, Gerraghty again opted to kick possession away as London Irish were really fluffing the numerical superiority. The visitors were again going through the motions, but failing to break the defensive line and sure enough eventually their back line would cough up possession with an unforced error. By way of contrast, Cardiff were mixing up the tactics, opting for a concerted pick and drive assault that saw them reach deep in side London Irish territory. Ruiz then came up with a highly technical penalty against Geraghty which gave Anscombe a kick at goal from the half way. As the first half drew to a close, it was the lack of cohesion and ownership amongst the home side that stood out most. When things started to go wrong - as they inevitably do during a game - everyone seemed to start looking at each other instead of stepping up to clean up the mess. There are some serious issues with this squad. The second half started pretty much in the same vein as the first - little control and a lot of errors. Ellis Jenkins won a key turnover with London Irish pressing under the Cardiff posts. Then Sinclair saw yellow for attempting to do pretty much the same thing as Rees had done in the first half. The pack attempted a driving lineout, but Irish shunted them back with ease. But the pressure was on, and the home side and Rees opted for the three points when the visitors crept up a little too far in defence. From a strong driving 5m lineout, the pack piled in and Jenkins went over to score in the corner. Or did he? Despite trundling over right in front of the on-field officials, we were subjected to an inordinate delay from the TMO and the "try" was disallowed. Bonkers. Cardiff's pick and drive tactic was making inroads and then Allen placed a clever grubber kick for Cuthbert to run onto. Variation in the back line - bosh, mixed with careful kicking behind the on rushing defensive line was yielding dividends. With a player up in the pack, Cardiff continued to pressure through their forwards close to the Irish line, but then the winner of dumbest play of the game went to Anscombe who kicked the ball dead over the Irish line instead of going through the phases and building the pressure. Then Williams and Cuthbert contrived to spill the ball Cardiff had failed to capitalise on an extra player. Poor execution and poor tactical appreciation of what was required when a player up. The visitors finally crossed the Cardiff 22 for the first time in the second half on the hour mark, but the worryingly porous home team's defensive line was soon under pressure. Individuals were making the tackles, but the organisation was all over the shop and the gaps were plentiful. Poor communication and a lack of team work were at the core. Mitchell soon set about making some tackles though Ellis Jenkins started to fall off a few - as did Gavin Evans. Then suddenly Cardiff broke from defence with Cory Allen working well with Smith. The winger again broke tackles without breaking sweat and although hesitancy and indecision almost saw Allen fluff the try on offer, Lloyd Williams' support play was rewarded with a scoring pass. Anscombe converted from the touch line and the home side were 17-7 ahead. The visitors now knew that if they didn't up their game then there was no way back for them and an appreciable rise in urgency spread throughout the team. The Cardiff scrum was now well on top and they even pushed Irish off their own ball. But poor support play saw Williams isolated and the advantage was lost. But then good work from Rory Watts-Jones and Turnball carrying the ball out of defence, followed by another excellent kick from Anscombe, and suddenly Irish were defending deep in their 22. Cardiff's maul was now in the ascendancy, and with Lewis Jones on for Williams, a sniping run down the blind side made inroads into the visitors' 22. With just a little more control and organisation, the ensuing catch and drive should have crossed the line, but the try-machine that is Kristian Dacey was on hand to dive over from a ruck and ensure the victory with five minutes left. 24-7. So would Cardiff get that extra try and secure the vital bonus point that could see them qualify from this group? Uhm. No. Adam Thomas was left isolated to take the kick off as a criminal lack of team work and organisation again saw Cardiff exposed in defence. Instead of taking the catch, kicking deep and using the forward supremacy to look for that try, they gifted the ball back to the visitors. Ruiz compounded the error with a corker of his own. A penalty try from a single collapsed scrum. This could be decisive if the final pool rankings come down to point difference. Securing the victory was all that mattered from this fixture by unless we see more fireworks on the pitch (and less in the stands), BT will start reversing the charges and ask for their money back. At the core of the victory was an insipid and lifeless performance from the visitors, who didn't really look committed or interested in this competition. No doubt things will be different in Reading. This was a real liquorice Allsorts performance. Some good, and some you'd like to pass on to your neighbour - particularly the ones that look like worm tablets.
15
Adam Thomas
3
/10
Not too much pace, but used his guile and an ability to change direction before contact well. Still overall a bit flakey, he was largely untested by London Irish who didn't use the up-and-under, box kick or positional kick too often. Didn't make any noticeable effort to join the back line in attack.
14
Alex Cuthbert
2
/10
How the mighty have fallen. Indecisive, lacking in confidence, poor in contact ... pretty dreadful.
13
Cory Allen
12
Gavin Evans
1
/10
It does seem worryingly simple to stand him up in the tackle, fend, and just run around him - signs of a lack of aggression and poor timing technique.
11
Richard Smith
6
/10
Anscombe aside, probably the pick of the back line. Good thinking for his try and a handful for the Irish defence. Doesn't seem to have too much pace, but at least makes the most of what he's got by having a go.
10
Gareth Anscombe
6
/10
A masterclass of kicking showing an uncanny knowledge of the pitch at CAP. That interception try could have cost his team though, and he still looks more like a full back than an outside half.
9
Lloyd Williams
5
/10
Some nice touches, but another tentative player lacking in confidence
8
Josh Navidi
6
/10
A wholehearted 100%-er.
7
Ellis Jenkins
3
/10
Failed to impose himself on the game. Won one jackling penalty but missed more tackles. Barely carried the ball and barely cast a shadow. Unimpressive.
6
Macauley Cook
3
/10
Looked awkward and lumbering in defence. Turns as fast at the Costa Concordia.
5
Josh Turnbull
6
/10
Some good touches from Josh and maybe he's found his role at 5.
4
Filo Paulo
2
/10
Filo - the referee may well be an arse and have no idea about the laws of the game, but arguing with him after he's made his decision isn't too smart. At best it'll just p@ss him off, at worst, you could end up in the bin. Well done to Hammett who sure enough from the very next play, subbed him. What is it with Cardiff and Samoans? How can they successfully find ones with such a weak physical presence? Filo - the new Sititi.
3
Adam Bomber Jones
1
/10
Only real contribution to the first half was conceding a penalty for deliberately pulling the scrum down. Only made a "tackle" when players ran into him. As sturdy as as a rotten wooden fence and equally as mobile. Saunters between scrums. Is this really the best on offer? Subbed on 45 minutes when Craig Mitchell came on.
2
Matthew Rees
4
/10
Lasted an hour. Didn't do too much. The scrum looks strong when the three grandads are in the front row, but not one contribute anything around the pitch. If only the poster-boys contributed as much on the pitch as they do to the marketing efforts.
1
Gethin Jenkins
2
/10
Shirt filler.