Pro 14

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Wallpaperman
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Re: Pro 14

Postby Wallpaperman » Sat Jan 02, 2021 11:38 am

Watched the horror double bill of Scarlets v Dragons & Blues v Ospreys last night.

Dragons v Scarlets was a poor match, too much kicking and way too many knock ons and inaccurate passes. In mitigation both sides were missing a lot of players, and the Scarlets have a much stronger squad.

Basham started really well with a couple of turnovers, but he went off injured after about 25 minutes when the Dragons were leading 3-0. It was still close until the Scarlets scored from a lineout after Screech was yellow carded. There was the odd high point, Jonah Holmes put in a superb run from his own 22 to the Scarlets 22, before taking a wrong option. He looked lively but went off injured (as did Jake Ball, Tyler Morgan and Wyn Jones, as well as Basham). Aneurin Owen came off the bench and put in one lovely offload to send Jack Dixon clear, and Costelow scored a cracking try near the end.

The Scarlets deserved their win but it wasn’t an easy watch. Kalamafoni got man of the match, which was about right. Screech was yellow carded with the score at 6-3, for a tackle off the ball. The assistant referee and tmo both recommended a penalty only but Nigel Owens gave a yellow. There was some light relief as Owens didn’t have any cards in his pocket at the time, and had to tell Screech he had been yellow carded. The Scarlets would have won anyway but it was a harsh decision that the Scarlets were able to capitalise on.

Blues v Ospreys was better than the first game but there was still too much kicking from 22 to 22. The Ospreys forwards did the job really with their tries coming from a driven lineout maul and a penalty try when the same would have happened again. They missed a few other scoring opportunities and wouldn’t have been flattered by a bonus point. As mentioned, it was the Ospreys pack that did the job, and Adam Beard hasn’t done his Wales chances any harm over the last few weeks. He had a much better match than Seb Davies. Rhys Davies is coming on very well in the Ospreys second row, too. Lots of the Ospreys played well, but Rhys Webb and George North had noticeably good games behind the scrum.

The other main talking points from the match were the cards that were given, and not given. Rhys Webb conceded a penalty for a deliberate knock on a few metres from his line when the score was 0-0, but was not carded. Danny Lydiate was yellow carded for a forearm to the ‘upper chest’ of Jason Tovey, and there was some discussion as to whether it should have been red, but I wouldn’t have given a penalty at all as the first contact was a hand off. The Blues had Seb Davies and Dmitri Arhip yellow carded and could have had some more due to repeat penalties in the 22. Scott Andrews came on for Arhip and was yellow carded after conceding four scrum penalties. Arhip came back on and the Ospreys went for the shove at the next scrum but Arhip absolutely mangled Nicky Smith.

It’s nice to see Rhodri Jones back and playing well for the Ospreys. He looked like Lions material when he first played for Wales but his region tried to convert him to a tight head, and he was never the same. I’m not sure if that was at Warren Gatland’s instigation when Wales had a few good loose heads but no strength in depth at tight head.

After the first two sets of derbies the Scarlets and Ospreys look significantly better than the other regions. Hoping for some more entertaining rugby next weekend. The standard isn’t brilliant and it’s not long until the six nations

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Sandydragon
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Re: Pro 14

Postby Sandydragon » Sun Jan 03, 2021 1:36 pm

Thanks for summary, I unfortunately missed both games.

Beard has been in good form and he has to be in the six nations squad. Whilst not a direct replacement for AWJ, he does bring a lot to the party.

Rhodri Jones is a very good loosehead who was used badly at tight head. If he is fit and in form then he will push hard for a starting berth, I just can’t get away from the feeling that Nicky Smith is likely to get mangled against good opposition, as good as he is in the loose.

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Son of Mathonwy
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Re: Pro 14

Postby Son of Mathonwy » Sun Jan 03, 2021 2:18 pm

Yeah, I was surprised the Lydiate decision seemed to move straight to 'which colour card shall we give him?'.

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Re: Pro 14

Postby Wallpaperman » Mon Jan 04, 2021 2:05 pm

Sandydragon wrote:Thanks for summary, I unfortunately missed both games.

Beard has been in good form and he has to be in the six nations squad. Whilst not a direct replacement for AWJ, he does bring a lot to the party.

Rhodri Jones is a very good loosehead who was used badly at tight head. If he is fit and in form then he will push hard for a starting berth, I just can’t get away from the feeling that Nicky Smith is likely to get mangled against good opposition, as good as he is in the loose.


I reckon you had a lucky escape Sandy. I was almost reluctant to post a review in case it caused flashbacks. There were so many errors, particularly in the first half of Scarlets v Dragons, that it was difficult to watch. At half time they showed a clip where the Dragons (who hadn’t had the ball for 5 minutes) kicked the ball downfield under no pressure off second phase ball, when they were in the middle of the pitch on the halfway line. It was a bit grim.

Agree re Beard. Obviously we will have a thread on Wales selection at some point, but at present I would put him in the starting lineup alongside Will Rowlands. With AWJ, Ball and Hill all injured they have to be the best options. Rowlands has been playing well for Wasps, hopefully he can have a run of a few games and start producing for Wales.

Was surprised to find that Rhodri Jones is still only 29. Hopefully he can stay fit for the season as he is playing well. He definitely had the better of Arhip on Friday. I agree re Nicky Smith - fantastic in the loose, but he has the occasional off day in the scrum.

While on the subject of Ospreys props, does none have any info on Nicky Thomas ? All that potential unfulfilled. I had hoped that Booth would be the coach to get him on the straight and narrow, but Botha and Fia are both going well, and I haven’t even seen Thomas on the bench for some time. There were stories a few weeks ago linking the Ospreys with Tomas Francis, so I presume that Thomas hasn’t made the grade, but I hope I’m wrong.

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Re: Pro 14

Postby Wallpaperman » Mon Jan 04, 2021 2:14 pm

Son of Mathonwy wrote:Yeah, I was surprised the Lydiate decision seemed to move straight to 'which colour card shall we give him?'.


The ref almost seemed disappointed that there wasn’t clear footage showing a forearm to the head. I wanted the Ospreys to win, so I am not unbiased, but I thought that the contact with Tovey was Lydiate’s hand off to the shoulder/upper arm, and that the forearm made contact when Lydiate straightened his arm. I thought it was Tovey not wanting to tackle, and getting into a bad position, that was the problem. It was a double shame as it came off the back of a good run from North, and was probably the best bit of play in the first half !

That wasn’t a bad Cardiff Blues side on paper, although I was surprised that they left out Jarrod Evans, but they were really poor on Friday.

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Re: Pro 14

Postby Wallpaperman » Tue Jan 05, 2021 6:44 pm

Not sure if this should be a separate thread, but the Cardiff Blues have obviously decided that Mulvihill must carry the can for their recent form. He hasn’t had the greatest record, but he might have had a better shout if his squad had a better injury record. I think they are a prop and a big second row away from having a lineup to challenge anyone. Their backline could be superb with some decent ball. I never like to see someone lose their job, and hope Mulvihill does well in the future.

I suppose Dai Young would be the favourite to take the reins, and Dwayne Peel will be joining in the Summer as backs coach. Young knows the region, and how to coach a set of forwards, and you would have thought that he might attract one or two big players who are available in the Summer. Will Rowlands might well choose the Blues given that he came through with Wasps in recent years, and if Wales online is to be believed, Tomas Francis and Willgriff John are looking to play in Wales next season.

Good luck to whoever gets the job !

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Re: Pro 14

Postby Sandydragon » Wed Jan 06, 2021 11:09 am

Wallpaperman wrote:Not sure if this should be a separate thread, but the Cardiff Blues have obviously decided that Mulvihill must carry the can for their recent form. He hasn’t had the greatest record, but he might have had a better shout if his squad had a better injury record. I think they are a prop and a big second row away from having a lineup to challenge anyone. Their backline could be superb with some decent ball. I never like to see someone lose their job, and hope Mulvihill does well in the future.

I suppose Dai Young would be the favourite to take the reins, and Dwayne Peel will be joining in the Summer as backs coach. Young knows the region, and how to coach a set of forwards, and you would have thought that he might attract one or two big players who are available in the Summer. Will Rowlands might well choose the Blues given that he came through with Wasps in recent years, and if Wales online is to be believed, Tomas Francis and Willgriff John are looking to play in Wales next season.

Good luck to whoever gets the job !

They need to pick a decent coaching team to take the region forward. Dai Young with Peel would seem a decent fit for the now. But you get the feeling that Cardiff need a cash injection or something to shake them up a bit.

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Re: Pro 14

Postby Wallpaperman » Thu Jan 07, 2021 6:38 pm

Sandydragon wrote:
Wallpaperman wrote:Not sure if this should be a separate thread, but the Cardiff Blues have obviously decided that Mulvihill must carry the can for their recent form. He hasn’t had the greatest record, but he might have had a better shout if his squad had a better injury record. I think they are a prop and a big second row away from having a lineup to challenge anyone. Their backline could be superb with some decent ball. I never like to see someone lose their job, and hope Mulvihill does well in the future.

I suppose Dai Young would be the favourite to take the reins, and Dwayne Peel will be joining in the Summer as backs coach. Young knows the region, and how to coach a set of forwards, and you would have thought that he might attract one or two big players who are available in the Summer. Will Rowlands might well choose the Blues given that he came through with Wasps in recent years, and if Wales online is to be believed, Tomas Francis and Willgriff John are looking to play in Wales next season.

Good luck to whoever gets the job !

They need to pick a decent coaching team to take the region forward. Dai Young with Peel would seem a decent fit for the now. But you get the feeling that Cardiff need a cash injection or something to shake them up a bit.


Dai it is then. Best of luck to him. There is a strong squad of players from numbers 6-15 in place, and lots of young players coming through. I like quite a few of the front 5 players but there has been a definite lack of oomph for quite a while, notwithstanding the signings of Carre, Arhip and Hill. The 2 Wills, Willgriff John & Will Rowlands, would transform the team.

It wouldn’t surprise me if this leads to Thomas Young returning to Welsh rugby, although the Blues are very well stocked across the back row in my view, especially when Navidi and Ellis Jenkins are playing again. Lewis-Hughes and Botham need game time, and Olly Robinson was in great form before he got crocked. Josh Turnbull hasn’t let anyone down this season, and I would hope that Sam Moore will get a chance to play. James Ratti, too, who is probably just too short to play in the second row, but could be an excellent 6.

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Re: Pro 14

Postby Sandydragon » Thu Jan 07, 2021 8:28 pm

You beat me to it Wallpaperman!!

It seems like the sensible solution for the short term and potentially longer term as well . Young is a good coach and he knows Cardiff well. My only concern is that it doesn’t always work out well second time around but time will tell.

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Re: Pro 14

Postby Wallpaperman » Fri Jan 08, 2021 10:28 am

Sandydragon wrote:You beat me to it Wallpaperman!!

It seems like the sensible solution for the short term and potentially longer term as well . Young is a good coach and he knows Cardiff well. My only concern is that it doesn’t always work out well second time around but time will tell.


Crikey. It’s not often that I get somewhere first!

Totally agree about going back. I would expect Dwayne Peel will be fully motivated when he joins in the Summer, which should energise the new set up

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Re: Pro 14

Postby Wallpaperman » Fri Jan 08, 2021 3:12 pm

Exciting lineups for both matches tomorrow. And the weather forecast for both Cardiff and Newport is cold, but dry and with very little wind. We should get some running rugby, hopefully !

The Dragons have Roberts and Tompkins in the centre, against Kieran Williams and Owen Watkin, which should be a good matchup. Sam Davies is still out for the Dragons though, and Josh Lewis kicked everything last week although they were without Roberts. Rhodri Williams is on the bench again, with Tavis Knoyle starting. Good to see Hibbard get a start against the Ospreys, too. Ben Carter drops to the bench after a run of good games, and despite all their injuries the Dragons should still be competitive in the back row with Harrison Keddie and Aaron Wainwright starting.

After some recent games I would like to have seen Rhodri Jones against Leon Brown, but Jones is not in the 22. Nicky Smith starts, with Ifan Phillips squaring up against Hibbard at hooker. They have stuck with the in form second row of Beard and Davies, but field an inexperienced back row, resting both Tipuric and Lydiate from the 22. Morgan Morris and Sam Cross aren’t exactly bad alternatives and Will Griffiths has looked good on the blindside in recent weeks, even though he is nominally a second row.

This was probably the best of the festive derbies last year, hope it’s a good match this time round.

Both the Scarlets and the Blues have some quality players returning to their respective lineups, including Leigh Halfpenny, Liam Williams, Jonathan Davies and Jonny Williams for the Scarlets, and Willis Halaholo, Cory Hill and James Botham for the Blues. The Blues have picked Matthew Morgan at full back, although i thought he was persona non grata after ducking out of a tackle v Newcastle the other week.

The Scarlets have gone for an unusual front row of Phil Price, Marc Jones and Pieter Scholtz, which looks to be a second string. They have an impressive back row though, with Blade Thomson, Josh Macleod and Kalamafoni. And Gareth Davies returns at scrum half against Tomos Williams. They both went off injured last time they played each other though !

The Blues have Lee-Lo with Halaholo in the centre to face Davies and Williams, and Jarrod Evans is back at 10. They could really go for it if they can get some ball. They have also picked some decent scrummaging props in Domachowski and Arhip, and as previously mentioned Cory Hill returns, alongside the grafting James Ratti. Apparently we should see both Josh Navidi and Ellis Jenkins in the next few weeks, which is excellent news for the Blues, Wales and possibly the Lions.

Plenty of good contests this weekend for Pivac and co to mull over. I haven’t mentioned the wings but the likes of Josh Adams, George North, Ashton Hewitt, Luke Morgan and Steff Evans are all playing. Jared Rosser is also back for the Dragons, and the only slight disappointment is that Hallam Amos is on the wing tomorrow, I much prefer him at full back.

I’ll be watching both games, as long as Premier TV is working ! The Blues v Scarlets game is on S4C if Premier have ‘region’ issues again.

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Re: Pro 14

Postby Sandydragon » Sat Jan 09, 2021 7:14 pm

Ospreys edge it at Rodney Parade. A decent enough game without being high quality. Both teams improving.

The Dragons need a bit more composure. They work themselves into good positions but struggle to get the points. But the dragons are definitely improving (at last) and we had some good passages of play.

The Ospreys are rediscovering the ability to play rugby after a truly awful period.

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Re: Pro 14

Postby theboyeedj » Sat Jan 09, 2021 9:33 pm

Not the worst matches given the circumstances. Players emerging, some coming back to fitness. Wouldn't want to pick a national side out of this lot at the moment mind.

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Re: Pro 14

Postby Wallpaperman » Sat Jan 09, 2021 9:43 pm

Sandydragon wrote:Ospreys edge it at Rodney Parade. A decent enough game without being high quality. Both teams improving.

The Dragons need a bit more composure. They work themselves into good positions but struggle to get the points. But the dragons are definitely improving (at last) and we had some good passages of play.

The Ospreys are rediscovering the ability to play rugby after a truly awful period.


It was an enjoyable game. The Dragons looked like they were in control for large parts of the second half, but the Ospreys had a bit more of a cutting edge. The North try was pretty good.

Good to see the Ospreys coming back. They are on a good run. The Dragons are also on the up, but their squad is a bit too thin at present. Lots of good young players, though, and a good coach to bring them through.

Well done to the Blues in the second game, big shame about the (deserved) red card for Liam Williams. Great effort from the 14 men Scarlets, they might still have won if Steff Evans had been able to capitalise on his hack through with a few minutes to go.

Neither game was perfect, but at least we’ve had two enjoyable derbies

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Re: Pro 14

Postby Sandydragon » Sun Jan 10, 2021 3:49 pm

They were both far better games than the ones over Christmas!

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Re: Pro 14

Postby Son of Mathonwy » Mon Jan 11, 2021 11:04 am

Wallpaperman wrote:
Sandydragon wrote:Ospreys edge it at Rodney Parade. A decent enough game without being high quality. Both teams improving.

The Dragons need a bit more composure. They work themselves into good positions but struggle to get the points. But the dragons are definitely improving (at last) and we had some good passages of play.

The Ospreys are rediscovering the ability to play rugby after a truly awful period.


It was an enjoyable game. The Dragons looked like they were in control for large parts of the second half, but the Ospreys had a bit more of a cutting edge. The North try was pretty good.

Good to see the Ospreys coming back. They are on a good run. The Dragons are also on the up, but their squad is a bit too thin at present. Lots of good young players, though, and a good coach to bring them through.

Well done to the Blues in the second game, big shame about the (deserved) red card for Liam Williams. Great effort from the 14 men Scarlets, they might still have won if Steff Evans had been able to capitalise on his hack through with a few minutes to go.

Neither game was perfect, but at least we’ve had two enjoyable derbies

And Keelan GIles reached the final whistle intact. Long may this continue.

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Re: Pro 14

Postby Sandydragon » Mon Jan 11, 2021 11:23 am

Nice to see Giles back. Nothing spectacular form him, but as you say, getting to the final whistle without an injury is a bonus in itself.

George North seems to have had a massive rocket up his rear end of late. The Ospreys are looking to use the wingers more but equally North looks well up for it. I hope Privac can find a way to get him on the ball more, he's too good a player to be sat on the wing not influencing the game.

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Re: Pro 14

Postby Son of Mathonwy » Mon Jan 11, 2021 1:40 pm

Sandydragon wrote:Nice to see Giles back. Nothing spectacular form him, but as you say, getting to the final whistle without an injury is a bonus in itself.

George North seems to have had a massive rocket up his rear end of late. The Ospreys are looking to use the wingers more but equally North looks well up for it. I hope Privac can find a way to get him on the ball more, he's too good a player to be sat on the wing not influencing the game.

True, he's seeing much more action for the Ospreys despite being on the wing. Can that be replicated for Wales or does he need to be at centre to do that at the national level? Is is a change in him, or a difference between Ospreys and Wales tactics, or a difference between the regional and national levels?

Speaking of centres, Tompkins was pretty anonymous (unlike Roberts). He wasn't bad but you'd expect him to stand out in the Dragons.

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Re: Pro 14

Postby Sandydragon » Mon Jan 11, 2021 5:26 pm

Son of Mathonwy wrote:
Sandydragon wrote:Nice to see Giles back. Nothing spectacular form him, but as you say, getting to the final whistle without an injury is a bonus in itself.

George North seems to have had a massive rocket up his rear end of late. The Ospreys are looking to use the wingers more but equally North looks well up for it. I hope Privac can find a way to get him on the ball more, he's too good a player to be sat on the wing not influencing the game.

True, he's seeing much more action for the Ospreys despite being on the wing. Can that be replicated for Wales or does he need to be at centre to do that at the national level? Is is a change in him, or a difference between Ospreys and Wales tactics, or a difference between the regional and national levels?

Speaking of centres, Tompkins was pretty anonymous (unlike Roberts). He wasn't bad but you'd expect him to stand out in the Dragons.

Roberts has been a great signing. Tompkins hasn’t been as great as I hoped he would be; I think he’s struggling to maintain the impact of last season. He does huff and puff a bit before doing something unspectacular, but then puts in an excellent pass just to cloud judgement.

For Wales, I’d pick Jonny Williams and Watkin/JD2 at the moment. I wouldn’t give up on Tompkins but he needs to recapture some form first.

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Re: Pro 14

Postby Wallpaperman » Tue Jan 12, 2021 2:34 pm

I thought that Tompkins played well on Saturday. He definitely looks to have more pace off the mark than the other options for the Welsh 13 jersey, and his passing is excellent. He put a lovely rubber chip through in the first half that didn’t quite bounce for Rosser. Sometimes though he tries to do too much, and ends up in a blind alley. And he isn’t as good a defender as Watkin or JD2 (when fit). I would have Tompkins in the mix for Wales but would pick Watkin alongside Jonny Williams at present , unless they try North at 13 again.

Watkin looked a real prospect a couple of years ago, but I think he was affected by the general malaise at the Ospreys. I saw him in some games last season where he seemed to shovel the ball on as soon as he got it, and he looked like his confidence had gone. He came into the game well on Saturday and had a very good second half. He is still a young man, and I would hope that he can kick on under the new coaching set up at the Ospreys.

I echo the previous comments that it is really good to see Keelan Giles back. It would be great to see him playing as before. The Ospreys suddenly have some pretty decent back 3 options in Dan Evans, North, Protheroe, Giles & Morgan.

I see that Tomas Francis said that he signed for them as they are ‘going places’, and I hope that he is right. The Scarlets have been the only Welsh region that would be expected to give the top European sides a good match for about 3 years. It would be nice to see another region get to that level.


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