By Craig Muncey
October 22 2016
Another win in Europe! Ok, it may not be the top tier of European rugby, but a year ago, a win against a French Top 14 side I would have been in raptures about.
The match itself was a stop-start affair strewn in errors. Pau's handling was pretty poor throughout and countless times knocked the ball on when starting to build some pressure on the home team.
In terms of Cardiff Blues, I felt there were some good passages of play, some nice running angles taken by Cory Allen and some incisive passing by Steven Shingler. The Cardiff Blues 10 had a bit of a mixed night, some of his kicking from hand was good, others not so good, and his passing also was a bit of a mixed bag.
Some good tries from Cardiff Blues, with the first try from Blaine Scully being the pick of the night, great passing across the backline giving the American the opportunity to score.
Players who I felt showed up well include Jarrod Hoeata, who put in a great shift before leaving the field early due to a yellow card. Kirby Myhill carried well and put in some aggressive tackling and MacAuley Cook yet again put in another strong performance. Was also pleasing to see Seb Davies, the young lock get an extended run out due to an early injury to James Down. Davies won some decent line out ball and carried strongly, he did get turned over a few times, but whether that was down to him not holding onto the ball long enough or his team mates not getting there quick enough was hard to say where I was stood on the North Terrace.
I mentioned earlier aggressive tackling, and I cannot write this without mentioning some of the hits Gethin Jenkins put in (yet again) and one huge monster hit from Tao'o Filise, who laid out the French prop who made the decision to carry upright into the channel where Filise was stood. Rugby suicide.
In the last 10 minutes, Cardiff Blues resolutely defended their line, until finally, Pau broke through with the last play of the game. A number of times Cardiff Blues held them up over the line or conceded penalties were numerous. Graham Steadman may not agree with this, but maybe letting Pau score in a try earlier in the piece, allowing Cardiff Blues to get back possession and then push for a fourth try and a bonus point may have been a better strategy. Only time will tell.
Overall a decent enough performance, things to work on such as players in the backline committing defenders before giving the pass, too many times last night we drifted in attack rather than setting a player and then passing. Also, I felt the kicking from the base of a ruck or maul was too long and not allowing us to compete. The kicking seemed to be caught between going for touch and giving the winger a chance to compete for the ball, but that is just my opinion.
Anyway onto next week and a league match with Scarlets, massive shame this fixture is caught up in international matches coming up so many first fifteen players on both sides will be unavailable, which is bound to have an effect on attendance. A real shame for ticket sales and for fans wanting to see the two best sides put out. On a positive note, though, we should see the first appearance of New Zealand recruit Willis Halaholo playing in the centre. Looking forward to it!