So, normally I follow a pretty standard formula when doing match reports. It goes, brief match description, pre-match news, first half summary, second half summary, my opinion on the match. This will be the same, but much shorter as the Cardiff players clearly can’t be bothered to play rugby, so there’s not much to write about really.
The team news was basically Harlequins brought a second team to CAP, and Warburton was too ill to play for us. The first half was low-scoring, and the referee missed a try. The second half was just dreadful until the last 10 minutes when it was too little, too late, and we conceded a rubbish late try to miss a losing bonus point and compound everything. Oh, and Matthew Rees stood on Nick Easter’s face.
Essentially, we had all the play in the first half, but did nothing with it, not helped by the poor refereeing. It is critical to have that cutting edge in these situations, but we don’t and that doesn’t say a lot for two players from what I’ve seen on Thursday night. Rhys Patchell should be standing at first receiver orchestrating moves and creating chances. However, far too often he is found out wide, and when he is at outside half, he either goes himself and gets nowhere, or throws the most basic, obvious pass to the next man and the attack stalls. The other player is Rey Lee Lo, who frankly went missing for large periods of the game. There was the old tackle and one half break, but he touched the ball about 20/25 minutes in the second half and I honestly forgot he was playing.
Those two may be able to be singled out in attack, but in defence it is a complete team failing. Line speed was basically non-existent, the amount of missed tackles was just embarrassing, particularly second half, and even when they were made at least a few yards were given up each time. Even when a tackle was made, very few people were prepared to compete at the ruck. On one occasion, in the first half, a Harlequins player, predictably, made a half break. They were eventually brought down by Alex Cuthbert of all people, and they rolled and placed the ball. All fine, except there were no Quins players supporting, all the Cardiff defenders had to do was step over and pick the ball up, but they just stood watching and waiting. I’ve criticised defence coach Graham Steadman before, but only lightly as he is still new to the job, but basically the defence has got worse over the last few weeks.
The most frustrating part of the whole Cardiff Blues continuous downward slide, is that we have a team that can perform at a higher level easily. I still like Danny Wilson, but I’m sure he is wondering if he made the right decision on his back room staff, when Steadman couldn’t organise a piss-up in a brewery, let alone a defensive line, and Paul John just can’t inspire any attacking creativity. However, it is easy to just blame the coaches, and the players need to take a long hard look at themselves after that embarrassment of a performance. A backlash must be coming at some point, I hope it’s sooner rather than later.