Wednesday, 30 September 2009

Scarlets team to face Ultster @ Ravenhill

Friday Oct 2nd at 1905:-

15 Priestland, 14 Lamont, 13 Maule, 12 Davies, 11 Williams, 10 Jones, 9 Roberts, 1 I Thomas, 2 Rees, 3 R Thomas, 4 Cooper, 5 Reed, 6 Jones, 7 Edwards, 8 Lyons (c)

Replacements: 16 John, 17 Owens, 18 Welch, 19 Turnbull, 20 Pugh, 21 Evans, 22 Higgitt

An interesting selection. Tavis Knoyle misses out through illness after a promising debut and Dominic Day drops to the bench along with Daniel Evans and Ken Owens. It's great to see the Lions back in the team though, a much needed boost in quality.

Priestland moving to Full Back is another interesting move. He did OK there last season with a few run-outs at 15, it could suit him.


What a huge boost it would be to see Stephen Jones back in Scarlet this weekend. The one thing we have sorely missed so far this season is a reliable goal kicker. Just think if we had kicked that conversion at Cardiff last weekend. A kickable penalty followed shortly after but we were 4 points behind.

Jones is also the commander of the backs. Not having a 'controller' at 9 or 10 has meant that much of our game has been extremely disjointed or misguided.

Being a forward myself it's almost soul destroying to put in all the effort only for your ten to give possession away cheaply or to have the chance you have earned for three points kicked wide. Stephen Jones gives you much more consistency if your a forward or a back and is also a solid defender - a real team player.

He showed on the Lions tour how much he can bring to a team. He may not have the 'spark' of a player like James Hook or the flamboyancy of Fredrik Michalak, but I know which 10 I'd rather have on my team. With the Heineken Cup fast approaching, getting Jones on the pitch is a MUST for us!

Sunday, 27 September 2009

Cardiff Blues 19 - 15 Scarlets

Totally out muscled I'd say. The Scarlets were beaten by a stronger, more experienced Blues team in a game plagued by errors and bad decision making.

I'm a little confused as to what the Scarlets are trying to achieve with the kicking game being used currently. Last night at the new City of Cardiff Stadium, both Rhys Priestland and Daniel Evans continued to kick possession away without much chance of a chase. The majority of kicks ended up with the Scarlets losing territory, adding to the difficulty of beating a Blues team whose pack was clearly on top.

The Blues started brightest, scoring in the first half through Paul Tito who finished off a lovely move, started by Richard Mustoe. Mustoe broke through an attempted tackle from Johnathon Davies and continued by running over Daniel Evans. A quick sweeping move to get the ball out wide gave Tito the chance to fall over the line.

The Scarlets rallied late in the first half but couldn't break down the Blues. A pattern which continued long into the second half before a dubious David Lyons try rewarded the battling Scarlets' efforts. With hardly any time to breathe it was Rhys Priestland's turn to spot a gap in the Blues defence left by Sam Norton-Knight and ex-Scarlet Gavin Evans. Priestland carved through linking up with Gareth Maule on the way before the scoring pass was given to Johnathon Davies who ran in another superb try.

What was evident to me is that the Scarlets are lacking real firepower up front. Too many time the ball is turned over and there is a clear inability to compete at rucks without the likes of Dafydd Jones and Simon Easterby, the latter leaving the pitch early carrying an injury.

I'm probably more concerned about how our European campaign will go after this match as some of our weaknesses were clearly exposed by a poor Blues team.

Friday, 25 September 2009

Two legends at work.

One of my favourite videos, Scarlets legend Ray Gravell and chef Keith Floyd at Kidwelly RFC. Two people who thoroughly enjoyed what they did and it was great to watch them do so.

Thursday, 24 September 2009

Scarlets team v Blues

September 26th 6.30PM @ City of Cardiff Stadium:

Scarlets: 15 Daniel Evans, 14 Sean Lamont, 13 Gareth Maule, 12 Jonathan Davies, 11 Mark Jones (c), 10 Rhys Priestland, 9 Martin Roberts, 1 Iestyn Thomas, 2 Ken Owens, 3 Deacon Manu, 4 Lou Reed,
5 Dominic Day, 6 Simon Easterby, 7 Richie Pugh, 8 David Lyons.

Reps - 16 Phil John, 17 Matthew Rees, 18 Vernon Cooper, 19 Josh Turnbull, 20 Tavis Knoyle, 21 Dan Newton, 22 Lee Williams.

That doesn't give us a whole lot of options if the backs aren't functioning. The halfbacks need strong games here as the forwards are in with a good chance of getting amongst their Blues counterparts.

The Full Moon!

I have to commend Rupert Moon and Paul Sergeant on their work so far down at Parc y Scarlets. Since taking up their positions both have shown a great desire to succeed in their roles and are looking to ensure the Scarlets tradition of being a successful rugby club on and off the field continues.

After playing his part in the glory of the early nineties through to when the Scarlets began 'bearing the flag' for the Welsh in Europe, Moony cemented his place as a Scarlet legend and is now looking to continue that status as a member of the management team.

He now faces the challenge of revitalising an historically lacklustre marketing department at the Scarlets. Getting the 'buzz' back in the region will surely be Moon's main concern as crowd numbers are worryingly low, a knock-on effect from poor performances and possibly a reminder that Scarlets fan like to feel part of the club, something which doesn't seem to have been taken into account in recent seasons.

Sergeant, who made his name in Wales by overlooking a successful period as Chief Executive of the Millennium Stadium, has all the experience necessary to get the best out of the new stadium. Welsh Rugby's jumper connoisseur Sergeant also went onto become general manager of the Suncorp Stadium in Brisbane, Australia before deciding it was time to head back to Wales.

One thing that stands out is the effort both are making to connect with fans again. Both have recently appeared on Scarlet Fever to take part in on-line question and answer sessions, answering openly and honestly any concerns us fans have. Both have also appeared regularly in and around Parc y Scarlets on match days and at organised events, again giving their views on matters important to the people supporting the Scarlets.

It's all a bit too promising if you ask me!

Wednesday, 23 September 2009

To the Metropolis...

We stand a chance for this one. After a decent start to the season a visit to the new City of Cardiff Stadium has probably come at just the right time. The Blues look quite disinterested in the Magners League at the moment, it will be interesting to see if that lack of momentum comes back to bite them in the early rounds of the Heineken Cup. Harlequins, Sale and Toulouse all play in intense competitions so it will be tough for the Blues from the off.

So, will the Blues up their game now that the Heineken Cup is fast approaching? If so, it will be quite interesting to see how the Scarlets adapt. Although fairly entertaining, the games so far have been rather lacklustre on the whole. A good win v Leinster has been followed by two defeats, at Glasgow and the painful defeat at home to Munster. With Stephen Jones' return imminent and the return of Lions team-mate Matthew Rees to come, can the Scarlets really compete in Europe and can they compete if the Blues decide now is the time to start putting performances together?

I'd suggest that the experience gained so far from the young team should stand the Scarlets in good stead to compete at least. We have a decent squad full of local talent and some experience, not as much as the likes of local rival The Ospreys or the Blues, but still enough so that teams will be taking us seriously and for us to expect a few 'big' wins.