Cardiff

k.o. time: 7:35 pm

19 December, 2014

Cardiff Arms Park

Spectators: 9,443

Scarlets
referee
Dudley Phillips
2
/10
Unable to spot a knock on or a forward pass, unable to allow competition for the ball at the breakdown. He should move to run and wriggle
worth annoying the wife factor
7
/10
our man of the match
Joaquin Tuculet
general comment

Away support, meaningful game, atmosphere, people caring for the result. Like the old days

scorers
Josh Navidi (2)
Gareth Anscombe (1)
Gareth Anscombe (3)
our choice for next week

vs Dragons

k.o. time: 2:05 pm

26 December, 2014

Cardiff Arms Park

15
Lucas Gonzalez Amorosino
14
Richard Smith
13
Joaquin Tuculet
12
Cory Allen
11
Dan Fish
10
Gareth Anscombe
9
Tavis Knoyle
8
Manoa Vosawai
7
Josh Navidi
6
Ellis Jenkins
5
Lou Reed
4
Jarrad Hoeata
3
Adam Bomber Jones
2
Matthew Rees
1
Sam Hobbs
So this is what rugby is like when you have followers of the other team on the terrace alongside you, even if it is a stupid kick off time on a freezing evening when many were off celebrating Christmas with work colleagues and friends. The rigidity of the BBC Wales television schedule really does kill common sense. Regardless of that, spirits were high on the terrace before the kick off (despite the attempt to kill conversation by playing awful techno music on loop at ear breaking decibels) and we were treated to many drunken Llanelli supporters singing their songs. On the pitch, however, the early surge was all from Cardiff and the Turk pre-match hubris was soon replaced by a fear of what else could go wrong for them. Before the game they had lost two key forwards (Ball and Shingler) and it clearly showed as they were smashed up front. The great Turk Openside hope of Davies was easily smashed out of the way by Navidi and that set the tone for what was to come. Anscombe opened the scoring with a 6th minute penalty after early scrum domination (well, according to ref Dudley Phillips anyway) saw territory and possession go Cardiff's way. Again, Anscombe hit the post with his kick but the Gods of Westgate Street did their task to see the kick successful. Soon the pattern of the game was set by Phillips. He simply allowed the attacking team to maintain possession regardless and so there was no contest for the ball. He penalised King for a ridiculous high tackle (in that it wasn't high at all) and so it was soon 6-0 with ALL of the momentum going Cardiff's way. Phillips can't have penalised the attacking team at the ruck more than a couple of times throughout the game so he just allowed one way traffic. This is the worst kind of refereeing of all. The French chap we had for the London Irish game was useless, inconsistent and seemingly uninterested, but at least he allowed something of a competition for the ball at the contact area. Dudley doesn't. He just penalised the defending team and allowed the ball carrying team to hit the ruck at any kind of angle and without the need to stay on their feet. It makes a mockery of the game. Fortunately, Hammett was wise to this and the first half burst by his team allowed the second half to die a death. Before the break, with Cardiff always on the front foot, Dudley allowed two tries. The Turks hadn't worked out that keeping the ball in hand was what was needed so, instead, tried to play a kicking game. Unfortunately, they were very much second best at this as they were playing the wrong way to win that battle. Both Tuculet and Anscombe were too good with their return kicks and so Llanelli were pinned in their own half. From a defensive line out in their own 22, Emyr Phillips couldn't throw the ball in straight and the resulting scrum led to Cardiff's first try. The ability of Navidi to stay on his feet in the tackle allowed his carry (off the back of a messy scrum) to be supported by his team mates and they pushed him over the line. Some poor tackling from Cardiff allowed Llanelli back into the game with two penalties before the pattern continued with more Cardiff forward dominance. Tuculet and Amorosino make a huge difference to the backline and their clever kicking allowed Cardiff another set piece in the Llanelli 22. A driving maul saw Navidi over again and the loss of those two Llanelli forwards before kick off was beginning to tell. It was 18-6 now and, finally, Cardiff had worked out that they had huge dominance up front. The Llanelli back row was ineffective and weak in contact so the contact area was a position of advantage for Cardiff. This was emphasised by Lou Reed picking up in his own 22 and making it over the half way before McCusker's late tip tackle earned Cardiff three more points. It could easily have seen Llanelli down to 14 but Deadly Dudley struck again. It was soon 21-9 and Navidi was breaking tackles at will. Another grubber into the Llanelli 22 on the stroke of half time saw a Cardiff 5 metre line out. This was surely to be another try until Dudley disliked the formation of the maul and gave Llanelli a penalty. Had it become 28-9 at that point then the game would truly have been over. As it was, the contest was kept alive by Dudley in the second half as he allowed Llanelli almost permanent possession. As mentioned, Hammett had worked out his ruck interpretation so mostly only sent Warburton over the ball in the second 40 as Cardiff just relied on their defensive line (and huge margin) to see out the game. There were some lovely patterns run by Llanell in the second half and with some limited success (two individual howlers from Scott Williams and Lewis Robling were particularly dreadful) but the damning indictment is that they were unable to score a try against a Cardiff team that was averaging nearly three conceded per game. The message Hammett must take from this game, and must definitely take into the two Newport games, is that the pick and drive is Cardiff's greatest attacking weapon. Lewis Jones is a poor scrum half who kills space and momentum, so Hammett must learn from how Dai Young won the EDF with the pick and drive until the outside space is created. Hammett has the forwards to play this game and, if Tuculet plays at 13, any outside space will certainly lead to opportunities. The target must be 8 points against Newport and this group is more than capable of achieving that.
15
Joaquin Tuculet
7
/10
A real touch of class. He's clearly a steadying influence and a player trusted by his team mates but he is wasted at 15. He needs to be at 13 where he can influence the play far more.
14
Alex Cuthbert
6
/10
Fair play, for two weeks running he's caught an up and under. Amazing. He's still trying too hard and he can't pass water, let alone a rugby ball, so where is the improvement in his game?
13
Cory Allen
4
/10
He's not playing his best rugby but that's probably because he's not playing in his best position. He's a 12. He has the delivery skills of Jamie Robinson when he should be playing like Jamie Roberts. Get him on the crash!
12
Adam Thomas
2
/10
A conundrum. His effort is good but his talent is lacking. He left gaps in the backline so great that Llanelli didn't even have to block players in order to get through. He's not a centre.
11
Lucas Gonzalez Amorosino
6
/10
What a joy to have some pace and buzz in the backline. The crowd is excited when the ball is in his hands and that's rare at Cardiff nowadays. He needs to get into the game much more.
10
Gareth Anscombe
6
/10
Still looks like a full back in that his kicking game is suited to space and countering the kicking game from the opposition. When taking at first receiver his distribution is good but he clearly enjoys space.
9
Lewis Jones
2
/10
Bless him, when Adam Jones has to congratulate him on making a box kick then you know that he is out of his depth. He eats space like Pac Man, he chooses wrong options and kills momentum. The game is too fast for him to, seemingly, mentally keep up with.
8
Josh Navidi
6
/10
He will get the praise because of his tries (and rightly so) as he makes himself into a very difficult number 8 to play against. Sure, he needs bulk but he is all arms and legs to play against. There's a little bit of the new Hemi Taylor about him.
7
Sam Warburton
6
/10
A constant thorn in the side of Llanelli at every contact area he could get to (and he seemed to get to plenty). The presence of Warburton made Llanelli put more bodies into the breakdown than they seemed comfortable with and that helped Cardiff hold their defensive line.
6
Josh Turnbull
1
/10
Definitely better as a lock where his range is restricted. In a loose game, that Llanelli liked to play, he is missing defensively at 6 especially at the breakdown. Another wholehearted effort, of course, but he should concentrate on being a good lock.
5
Lou Reed
6
/10
His performance would look superb on a highlights reel as he made a couple of breaks that totally ridiculed the Llanelli defence. There's still too much missing from the grunt required from a lock but his energy was excellent.
4
Filo Paulo
2
/10
3
Adam Bomber Jones
5
/10
He seems to be something of a father figure to the younger players around him so it is good to see that still is possible in Welsh rugby. He's holding his own and (mostly) holding up the scrum. That'll do.
2
Kristian Dacey
5
/10
Still very much a work in progress as he needs to bulk up so that he can break a tackle as much as run around one, but he is a player the crowd enjoy watching as he looks to add pace to the ball. But is that the role of a hooker?
1
Gethin Jenkins
5
/10
He seems to fall off tackles more and more nowadays. Now this may be because he wishes to go for the steal once the tackled player hits the ground (sometimes) but it's a worrying feature. Still part of a front row that (somehow) won the first half scrum battle.