Sean Davies

Wales ratings v Japan (106)

Wales ratings v Japan

Cardiff – I was at the Millennium Stadium in Cardiff on Thursday for Wales’ Pool B game against Japan.

Here’s how I rated the individual Wales players’ performances. See what you think and let us know what you made of the performance.

Kevin Morgan – 4
A horrific, near-lateral kick from breakdown ball that gifted Japan a counter-attack was the most memorable moment of the full-back’s match. Redeemed an error-ridden display somewhat with a well-taken try on the stroke of half-time.

Dafydd James – 6
An important physical presence in Gareth Thomas’ absence from the back three. Lacked the pace to finish the first try, but had the composure to put Alun Wyn Jones in.

Jamie Robinson – 5
Did little wrong, but his distribution was occasionally hesitant and the centre faces a thankless task in trying to displace Tom Shanklin.

James Hook – 7
Still questions over whether he can cope with the physicality at 12 against the bigger teams, but Hook’s skills are undoubted and his dummy to create space for his first-half try was delightful.

Shane Williams – 6
The ball didn’t run for the little winger on his 50th cap, but he also tried too much at times and spilt valuable ball. Got an almost obligatory brace of tries against Japan, but blew another with poor footballing skills.

Stephen Jones – 7
Determined to assert himself as leader, fly-half and first-choice kicker from the start. This was Jones’ best game at 10 when he has had Hook inside him and there is little doubt that Gareth Jenkins will keep his favoured outside-half in that role for the Fiji game.

Mike Phillips – 7
A frustrating first half riddled with errors. Phillips stepped up his battle to displace an out-of-form Dwayne Peel with two bullish breaks afterwards, scoring one try and creating another before being replaced by Cooper just as he was hitting his straps.

Duncan Jones – 6
Did his work in the tight but was somewhat quieter in the loose than we are used to seeing. Blew a first-half try by cutting back when an overlap was screaming outside.

Rhys Thomas – 7
Thomas’ often wayward line-out work was straight and true, benefiting from the lack of pressure exerted by the vertically challenged Japanese forwards. The Blues hooker was committed around the park and drove powerfully for his first-half try.

Chris Horsman – 7
Played his part in grinding down the spirited Japanese effort – and thankfully kept his discipline in check.

Will James – 6
We saw little of the Gloucester lock’s famed charges around the pitch and he was little used as a line-out option before the game was safe, but some strong hits at the fringes of rucks went some way to justifying his controversial World Cup call-up.

Alun Wyn Jones – 9
Wales’ go-to man delivered again. Took all the early line-outs, was prominent around the field, got his team’s opening try when they were struggling and was unlucky not to score a second.

Colin Charvis – 8
Always a solid, comforting presence for Wales, Charvis’ work at the breakdown was as effective as ever and his power and pace troubled the visitors.

Martyn Williams – 7
The quietest of Wales’ back-row trio in one of the most fiercely competitive areas of the squad. With Gareth Jenkins’ line-out captain Jonathan Thomas to come back in, Williams woke up late on with two well-taken tries.

Alix Popham – 7
Made a point after being dropped for the Australia game with some eye-catching hits and fine support work. Blotched his copy-book by throwing away an interception try with his last play before being replaced by Michael Owen.


Gethin Jenkins – 6
Came on with the hard work already done and played his part in easing Wales to victory.

Huw Bennett – 6
A justly deserved first appearance at the World Cup in his second tournament.

Ian Evans – 6
A joy to see Evans back on a rugby pitch after a seven-month injury absence. Took some line-out ball – but obviously didn’t fancy a 75m interception try run-in as he knocked on with the line beckoning!

Michael Owen – 6
A quiet 20 minutes after replacing Popham.

Gareth Cooper – 7
Came on to an ideal situation with the Welsh forwards rampant and the opposition out on their feet, Cooper capitalised well and scored a good try.

Ceri Sweeney – 6
Made a couple of mistakes after replacing Stephen Jones before he settled into and began to enjoy the free-running finale.

Tom Shanklin – 6
Had little to prove in his 10-minute run-out, but was eager and determined to get in the mix.

Sean Davies is a BBC Sport journalist based in Cardiff.

Comments  Post your comment

  • 1.
  • At 10:41 PM on 20 Sep 2007,
  • Chris wrote:

Agreed that Morgan was the worst player. Other players had duff games but won't feature against Fiji or (touch wood) S Africa - but who do we play at full-back? Alleged utility back Sweeney?

  • 2.
  • At 10:45 PM on 20 Sep 2007,
  • Duncan wrote:

Shane Williams has provided two of the funniest moments of the world cup with his knock on in the canada game and not being able to dribble the ball.

As a whole Wales did well against the smaller Japanese team and I expect them to go on and beat Fiji.

  • 3.
  • At 10:45 PM on 20 Sep 2007,
  • LlywachCadwallader wrote:

Wales are going to have big problems later on in the tournament. Too many errors and turnovers will be fatal against the better teams, and I am not convinced Jenkins knows his best 15.

Full-back is a huge problem; Kevin Morgan has been in woeful form for two seasons and cannot play for Wales again in a major game. Even with his waning powers, Alfie has to play. My team going forward:

1 Jenkins 2 Rees 3 Horsman 4 Evans 5 Wyn Jones 6 Charvis 7 M Williams 8 J Thomas 9 Peel 10 Hook (he's not a 12) 11 S Williams 12 S Jones 13 Shanklin 14 M Jones 15 G Thomas

  • 4.
  • At 10:57 PM on 20 Sep 2007,
  • Matt Mytton wrote:

Got up at 4.30 AM (live in OZ) to watch the game, very frustrating amount of ball turned over and wrong options.

I think some of the ratings are generous.

If Kevin Morgan is the second best full back in Wales we are in deep trouble, showed his lack of composure again with a brainless kick and knocked on after spilling the high ball, Japanese winger went around him like he wasn't there for their second try. Although he did take his try well.

Not holding out much hope for the quarters, could be over again be half time if we produce the same display as the previous two matches.

Harsh on Martin Williams, I'd say - he was first to every breakdown and so often the vital link man. It's often when they're being practised at their best that noone notices the dark arts of the openside...

Quick question? Why can't we catch? When our handling's good, it's a dream to watch, but we make so many basic errors - errors that the top teams just won't let us get away with.

Finally - Ceri Sweeny; the epitome of the word 'mercurial'. 'Mercurial', that is, meaning 'rubbish most of the time'.

Still, a win's a win, and that (in a World Cup where Ireland have shown that there's no such thing as an easy game) was a comfortable one - now bring on the Fijians!

  • 6.
  • At 11:14 PM on 20 Sep 2007,
  • Alan Jones wrote:

Agree Hook is not a centre hence he starts on the bench for me. Full back is a problem but dont know why? Morgan was as good as anyone in the world a year ago and still performs well for Dragons. Have the coaches ( who have little experience away from Stradey) knocked his confidence away. Peel by far the best scrum half, not sure who is best on bench Pillips or Cooper.

  • 7.
  • At 11:26 PM on 20 Sep 2007,
  • basilfawlty wrote:

What a shambles, anyone that takes anything from that halfwitted display is deluded, knock on's turn overs, missed tackles, Wales were really woeful, cannot see a score of higher than 5 in the above, stop dreaming boys we were the worst I have seen Wales play in 40 years, I cannot take any positives from that, against Japan 2/3 rds that was our best, those men are suppose to be profesionals, they were woeful! From 1 to the bench, nobody came off that field with honours, we had better improve

  • 8.
  • At 11:27 PM on 20 Sep 2007,
  • Chris wrote:

Surely Alfie won't be fit for Fiji? Has Evans had enough match time? (he's a shoo-in if 100%)

  • 9.
  • At 11:31 PM on 20 Sep 2007,
  • WellbyExmouth wrote:

Martyn Williams quietest of back row? Granted, Wyn-Jones had a stormer, but if it wasnt for Williams' reactions at ruck area, we would've been turned over a lot more. He was my stand-out performer and his link work was superb.

  • 10.
  • At 11:52 PM on 20 Sep 2007,
  • harold rockett wrote:

What was this guy watching.Martin Williams was everywhere and was arguably Man of the Match.

  • 11.
  • At 12:53 AM on 21 Sep 2007,
  • Richard Hughes wrote:

Not an excellent performance by any streak of the imagination, too many turnovers, too many ambitious plays. However, the set-plays looked brilliant. Lineout ball was superb, with some great training-ground stuff coming to life on the pitch (and succeeding!), and the scrum looked a lot more solid (hopefully it will stay this way!).

Fiji will prove to be much tougher opponents; they will capitalise more on errors, they will put more pressure on the line, but I don't see them overcoming Wales.

I hope the first 20 minutes of the next match doesn't have the nation gripped in fear of being booted out by a lesser team. Phillips to start at 9, Jones at 10, Hook and Shanklin outside him, with Shane Williams and M Jones on the wings. Up front, Jenkins, Rees and Horsman, Alun Wyn Jones and Evans Behind, with Popham, Martin Williams and Charvis in the back row.

  • 12.
  • At 01:11 AM on 21 Sep 2007,
  • Claire John wrote:

Agree with last post. Martyn Williams was by far the best back rower. Having gone to the game and now watched the highlights he was a part of everything. Charvis unusually quiet in a game I expecyed to be made for him.

  • 13.
  • At 01:39 AM on 21 Sep 2007,
  • Rory wrote:

Personally since mike phillips came onto the international scene i have always backed peel to start scrum half but after phillips display against japan (a weaker side maybe) he most definetly needs to start against a physical fijian outfit.
At times especially in the second half phillips showed the advantages of being 6'3 and acting as a centre which completely threw the japanese off course. In other areas the line out has drastically improved since our twickenham thrasing with wyn jones being instrumental however ian gough must start before ian evans as he clearly showed signs of not being match fit which is clearly understanable.
Overall a strong performance and a valuable bonus point.

  • 14.
  • At 02:50 AM on 21 Sep 2007,
  • Gareth wrote:

I think we need to get some perspective. Yes there were a lot of handling errors and loose play but that's what happens when you go all out for a try fest. If they'd played the game tight and didn't get over 50 points they'd still get a slagging.
When the scores get big very often the play gets loose and you get turned over more. We know how hard it is to score a try agains the All Blacks but while dishing out thrashings to Portugal this year they conceded as they did when they hammered Japan in 1995.

  • 15.
  • At 03:13 AM on 21 Sep 2007,
  • James wrote:

Congratulations Wales, you managed to beat Japan at home...

  • 16.
  • At 05:27 AM on 21 Sep 2007,
  • memphis501 wrote:

I think Wales looked lethargic at times and didnt step physically. So many errors occured when all that was needed was to set up 2nd phase ball. Also, what's with the static line of atttack, no-one was taking the ball from deep and at pace, why are we passing the ball to players standing still and getting knocked back in the tackle. I fear that something bad could happen against a very physical Fiji side.

  • 17.
  • At 06:37 AM on 21 Sep 2007,
  • Al_Bback wrote:

“that’s what happens when you go for a try fest”; Gareth, a statement said with the arrogance of an Englishman. In this world cup the minows have shown that they deserve respect and despite the scoreline I think Japan certainly do. They ran some exciting ball and before exhaustion set in, put in some big tackles. Wales performance was equally exciting, yes too many basic errors and yes better teams will punish you. But it is not all bad, the execution is nearly there, the skills and pace in the back line are something we English can only dream of. I think there are exciting times ahead for Wales, when it all clicks this will be a class team – hopefully it will all come together in this world cup!

  • 18.
  • At 07:00 AM on 21 Sep 2007,
  • Chris Sheldon wrote:

While I agree Jenkins doesn't know his best 15 or much else about rugby as far as I'm concerned - in response to no. 3 - Hook is definitely not a no. 12, but neither is Stephen Jones! Anybody who knows anything about rugby knows that. Should've taken Henson - he could've played a part last night and against Fiji, and as for Will James - I'm still baffled why Jenkins didn't take Cockbain, but then nothing Jenkins does should surprise me by now.

  • 19.
  • At 07:04 AM on 21 Sep 2007,
  • Laney wrote:

Martyn Williams, the quietest of the Welsh back row!!! He was first to the beak down every time.... Legend!!!

  • 20.
  • At 07:07 AM on 21 Sep 2007,
  • Neil wrote:

Wales biggest problem, one of many, is the lack of a world-class full back. Australia proved what a difference a quality player in that position makes. And Wales proved this the last time we had a decent full back, namely JPR. From the current squad, I cannot see anyone able to assume the role adequately, but I guess that Hook might be an option. He certainly seems out of place at centre. But I do feel that we should have had Gavin Henson on board as a potential full back, and certainly as a consistent goalkicker, as Jones, Hook and Sweeney have all missed relatively easy opportunities.

  • 21.
  • At 07:15 AM on 21 Sep 2007,
  • willybach wrote:

Positives...the players we all knew were world class mostly are still world class, Peel got to have a break, hopefully he'll benefit from a rest, A.Wyn-Jones continues to get better and better, Phillips is also improving, I.Evans got a run out, S.Jones looked a lot more settled, Hook although maybe not a 12 benefits from every game he plays, remember hes only played one season of top class rugby.
Negatives...well we were home, and it was Japan, no offense....erm, several players didnt do their reputations much good, Jamie Robinson invisible, Morgan hands like feet at times, D.James looked pretty slow i thought, W.James....who?

  • 22.
  • At 07:23 AM on 21 Sep 2007,
  • DadaMungo wrote:

I was happy to see Wales try to play free and wide rugby from the off (if they'd done that against Oz in the 1st half of Sat's game too the scoreline would have been more to my liking). Obviously, though, the standard of the opposition made a difference - though I take my hat off to Japan: I was pleasantly impressed by their performance. Kudos to them!

Like others have mentioned, I am concerned about the handling errors (K. Morgan's must have smeared his hands with axle grease prior to kick-off). But the vision and intelligence were clear to see, and that bodes well for the future if they can just stop dropping the ball. Very glad to see the lineout functioning well (as in Sat's game). We are no longer starving for possession.

So, a mixed bag, in all. I expect us to beat Fiji with a degree of comfort, but after that. Well, at least I don't think any Welshman is anticipating more than the team has to offer, so no let down if the QFs are the point of exit.

  • 23.
  • At 07:28 AM on 21 Sep 2007,
  • Rethinkable wrote:

Not a satisfiying Welsh performance

  • 24.
  • At 07:29 AM on 21 Sep 2007,
  • DadaMungo wrote:

I was happy to see Wales try to play free and wide rugby from the off (if they'd done that against Oz in the 1st half of Sat's game too the scoreline would have been more to my liking). Obviously, though, the standard of the opposition made a difference - though I take my hat off to Japan: I was pleasantly impressed by their performance. Kudos to them!

Like others have mentioned, I am concerned about the handling errors (K. Morgan must have smeared his hands with axle grease prior to kick-off). But the vision and intelligence were clear to see, and that bodes well for the future if they can just stop dropping the ball. Very glad to see the lineout functioning well (as in Sat's game). We are no longer starving for possession.

So, a mixed bag, in all. I expect us to beat Fiji with a degree of comfort, but after that...? Well, at least I don't think any Welshman is anticipating more than the team has to offer, so no let down if the QFs are the point of exit.

  • 25.
  • At 07:40 AM on 21 Sep 2007,
  • paul wrote:

this looks abit like the last world cup we struggled, then played a stormer against nz, i live in aus now and am taking alot of stick. come on boys. i like the lad morgan his confidence is shot though, there has to be an answer out there jenkins needs some divine insperation from somewhere.

  • 26.
  • At 07:58 AM on 21 Sep 2007,
  • Steve wrote:

Agree with all the comments re: Martyn Williams, he was the best player on the field last night. In fact, he is the most consistent player Wales have in their squad at the moment. I don't know what game Sean Davies was watching, and I have no doubt Gareth Jenkins, through his rose tinted spectacles will pick Charvis at 7, despite him not being an out and out openside.

As to the rest of the game, Wales were sloppy and if we make the same mistakes against Fiji and then SA, we will be punished heavily.

Jenkins, sort it out!

  • 27.
  • At 08:05 AM on 21 Sep 2007,
  • Dragons Tongue wrote:

Why are the Welsh supporters so easily satisfied? If Australia or The All Blacks played in the way Wales did last night heads would roll.Time to get real. This Welsh side and management are second rate and will exit the World cup as soon as they meet a decent team.
But no doubt the Welsh Team will have a hero,s welcome when they get back to the Nationalistic but rugby blind Welsh Supporters in Cardiff

  • 28.
  • At 08:06 AM on 21 Sep 2007,
  • Nick wrote:

Why are people praising Phillips. His first half nwas terrible. I lost count of the number of times that he'd joined the forwards, leaving no-one to fire the ball out to Jones - that's what let to all the turnovers. In the 10 minutes he played in the second half he did ok, but only by running at the tiring Japanese. Someone tell him he's scrum-half, not flanker.

  • 29.
  • At 08:08 AM on 21 Sep 2007,
  • Derek Belm wrote:

There aren't too many times we can score 72 points and yet I still feel frustrated and disappointed. Japan are by far the poorest team in the tournament - some exciting broken field running and organised defence at times, but the truth is we struggled against them.

Baffled by some of the ratings.

Shane Williams has done more bad than good since his return and against Fiji I'd rather see Dafydd James and Mark Jones on the wings. Everyone loves ickle Shane, but I get the feeling he's trying too hard to do the spectacular and needs to sort the basics out first.

Why Will James? Big reputation (apparently) and looked our weakest forward by a big margin. A generous 3.

AW Jones was immense, but a 9 when he came off so early in the second half?

Once again, Martyn Williams gets overlooked by writers on here. It was a blessing in disguise that JT was a late withdrawal because without Nugget on the field we would have been even more shambolic. As ever, he's the key link between forwards and backs, he's at the heart of nearly all of our best attacks, does the hard work on the floor and rarely lets us down in defence. Will Greenwood was right: "If Martyn touches the ball three times in a move we score, if he touches it 4 times he scores himself."
MoM with a 9.

  • 30.
  • At 08:09 AM on 21 Sep 2007,
  • Mark Twain wrote:

Whats with all the West Wales back room staff i'm sorry but Gareth Jenkins and co have to go after the world cup, must have been buy one get one free, he didn`t win anything when he was in charge of the scarlets. Why couldn`t we have Eddy Jones how come he's assistant coach to South Africa!!!!!!!!
To stand any chance against South Africa we have to throw the ball around and (catch it) and not try to match them up front.

  • 31.
  • At 08:36 AM on 21 Sep 2007,
  • Catty wrote:

There so many I disagree with I dont know where to start.. but Owen quiet 20 mins... do you mean apart from setting up Coopers try and charging down a kick which led to a Wales try.

  • 32.
  • At 08:40 AM on 21 Sep 2007,
  • mike wrote:

I think Sean might have fell asleep for this one. Martyn Williams was the stand out player. Everything we did good after Phillips went off involved Williams in some way. He was always in support, first at the breakdown and took his tries beautifully.
Charvis was non-existent and Alix Popham was unusally appalling in contact. I think the beeb need to re-think who their journalists are because every welshman i spoke to after the game, even the Ospreys supporters, agreed that Martyn Williams had his best game of the World cup and wales best performance of the night.
Harsh Sean, very Harsh.

  • 33.
  • At 08:57 AM on 21 Sep 2007,
  • DaveM wrote:

the score surpassed expectations, so that's a postive - and we scored some great tries in so doing - mostly individual tries though. Though Martyn's second try was a classic, and we should be doing that more often.

Some faults evident - running laterally, kicking away possession, snatching at the ball (and so knocking on), sometimes total unawareness of where the ball actually is (Mike Philips guilty of that a couple of times at the back of rucks) - most notably for the Japanese's wonderful first try - we just left the ball sitting outside the ruck! And some players in eagerness to impress, seemed to leave their footballing brains in the dressing room!

Still, lots of positives in my book - and on that form and the second half against the Aussies, we should see off Fiji no problem. As for the Boks? hmmm!

As for "basilfawlty" comment above - you can't have seen the Scotland match in the 6Nations - or England match in August!! Though I'll take "the worst Welsh performance in 40 years" every time, if they score ELEVEN tries!!!!

  • 34.
  • At 08:57 AM on 21 Sep 2007,
  • Peter Evans wrote:

If you play like that (Japan) against South Africa, Wales will lose 60 nil. What a shambles, 15 headless chickens. Who is the Captain or Captains. The team should stay in Wales and forget the World cup.
Mr Jenkins i'am afraid you cannot inspire this team. Take a Holiday.

  • 35.
  • At 08:58 AM on 21 Sep 2007,
  • Supersparkes wrote:

I think that you have got the performaces pretty spot on, although morgan had a poor game by his standards, but he is one of the best full backs in the world. The comment that Alfie should come back is one of those that annoys me about the Welsh support, Alfie is a winger and that is about it, he can play at full back, but with Morgan in the team you have an out and out speacilist. The Welsh side has a better balance in the backs with GT on the bench, he makes far to many errors and gets into too many wrong positions.
After last nights game I beleive that they will beat Fiji, then the tournament becomes a bit of a lottery, South Africa whilst very very good can be beaten, and you just never know. Heres hopping anyway LOL

  • 36.
  • At 09:39 AM on 21 Sep 2007,
  • Gareth wrote:

No not arrogance, just realism. You can see from the reactions here that 72 points isn't good enough for many and you can't reach that score with penalties. So the Wales plan of attack was to fling it around from the off and yes, go for a try fest.
That kind of game naturally brings more mistakes than a conservative gameplan.

  • 37.
  • At 09:43 AM on 21 Sep 2007,
  • LywachCadwallader wrote:

My goodness there are some odd opinions on here!

To the guy who says Shane should be dropped because he has done 'more bad than good since he came back' - well I think 5 tries in 3 games is a respectable return don't you, not to mention a track record of 34 in 50 matches? What other player in the northern hemisphere, never mind Wales, can match that?

Sure, he makes a few errors,but did anyone else really look like creating anything against Australia? With Hook out of position at 12, he is our only chance of causing an upset against South Africa.

And on the subject of 12, Stephen Jones has played there before earlier in his career, and with his experience could do so again. Hook is our best 10, one mediocre game against Canada should not have led to Jones walking back in despite a season of injury and indifferent form. With Henson bizarrely ignored, I would pick Jones at 12.

  • 38.
  • At 09:47 AM on 21 Sep 2007,
  • Clapham Taff wrote:

Martyn Williams was the man of the match. Shane Williams is so overrated it's embarrassing. Yes he can sidestep, but then he loses the ball in contact.

I know it's old fashioned but could we let the backs be in the back line and forwards get the ball?

The number of times overlaps were completely wasted with forwards shipping on ball to each other thereby simply giving time for defenders to cover was ludicrous. If the backs are our strength then play to it don't get in the way of it.

  • 39.
  • At 09:54 AM on 21 Sep 2007,
  • Simon wrote:

Despite being 1/2 Welsh (and a born and bred Kiwi - so rugby is in my blood!) I don't know much about Welsh rugby at the moment. Watched the game against Japan and was impressed overall, although a few too many handling errors and that bizarre league-style cross kick ... just a thought, if Hook may be too small for centre but is a handy player, has he been tried at fullback? The All Blacks are good at turning wingers into fullbacks, wingers into centres, fullbacks into wingers etc (Tana Umaga as an example), and even 'your' Howarth (sorry to mention him again ...) has played in plenty of backline positions - could be worth a go? Good luck for the rest of the Cup! While I want the All Blacks to win of course, Wales will always be my 'other' team.

  • 40.
  • At 10:00 AM on 21 Sep 2007,
  • Snowy wrote:

Can anyone please explain why Michael Owen keeps appearing in a Wales jersey????? He's done absolutely nothing since the grand slam for his club or county, you wouldnt even pick him if you had to take 2 of the dragons back row 3. Its like watching Derwyn Jones all over again. How on earth jenkins picked a player like him but not even got Cockbain in the squad.

  • 41.
  • At 10:04 AM on 21 Sep 2007,
  • JonMc Cardiff wrote:

What exactly do wales have to do to get any good reaction from the fans so so negative from so called fans who just want to see gareth jenkins fail. Get behind the team we've just scored 72 points for gods sake! Yes at times it was sloppy but it will be when you're playing guys who havent played together so far in the tournament and trying to losen everything up this was a good confidence builder in my eyes and another good win against fiji will be a good preparation for SA. We will be rank outsiders but anything is still possible with the guys firing on all cylinders and confidence from a couple of good healthy wins against the other teams in the pool.

  • 42.
  • At 10:17 AM on 21 Sep 2007,
  • Gareth Jones wrote:

You must have an eye closed in respect of Martyn Williams a 9 for me also only 6 for Mr Owen - you must be joking! If we want to play SA and have any chance we need Mike Owens ball in hand skills!

Gareth Jones

  • 43.
  • At 10:22 AM on 21 Sep 2007,
  • Mikey wrote:

Morgan was woeful last night, performace was shocking....after Alfie, Lee Byrne is a much better full back.

  • 44.
  • At 10:30 AM on 21 Sep 2007,
  • derek belm wrote:

Shane's track record isn't the issue. It is all about his performances now. He hasn't created the tries he's scored recently, he's finished off moves that just about anyone in the team could have done (with the possible exception of Will James). He's also made stupid, basic mistakes when simplicity would have opened things up, wasted great opportunities and looked shaky in defence - in other words, he hasn't reached his own high standards. I'm hoping dropping him would give him a kick up the backside he appears to need at the moment as he's talking a fantastic game and not delivering.

As for the citicism, I can only say that Wales set a benchmark in winning the Grand Slam and they've failed to reach their own standards ever since. This is despite having the bulk of the Grand Slam winning squad at their disposal. The criticism is wholly justified in this context, even more so when you consider the talent we have available.

  • 45.
  • At 10:33 AM on 21 Sep 2007,
  • gazr wrote:

Have to agree with the comments about Martyn Williams. Scored two tries, created two more, integral to everything good that we did in the second half.

Mike Phillips had an awful first 15-20 minutes, but then took control and it was his direct running and power that tied in the Japanese back row and created the space for us to play attacking rugby. Steven Jones visibly increased in confidence as Phillips' performance got better and for that reason, I hope that that half back pairing starts against Fiji.

Finally, rating for Popham far too high; he showed lots of commitment but had no penetration, was slow to the breakdown and most importantly played with no intelligence, going the wrong way and getting turned over in the lead up to Japan's first try and throwing that idiotic blind pass for their second try. Michael Owen had noticably more penetration and vision though admittedly this was against a tired Japanese side.

  • 46.
  • At 10:35 AM on 21 Sep 2007,
  • Welshcol wrote:

I think Martyn Williams deserves an 11 !!. He did not stop for eighty minutes, he was always in the action especially at the breakdowns and won a lot of turn-over ball which gave us the chance to attack on many occasions. Suggest we clone Martyn and leave Gareth Thomas on the subs bench- only joking :-).

  • 47.
  • At 10:41 AM on 21 Sep 2007,
  • wales fan forever wrote:

We do need to get behind the team and the press needs to lay off them whther positive or negative, seems if we're winning, we're over hyped and if we're loosing, its the end of the world.. We need to concentrate on the Fiji game now, yes we scored 72 points but my god, did we show basic errors. Don't share the Mike Phillips hype, he is skilled but not a scrum half, was he ever at the back of the maul or ruck ? how many times did charvis, martin williams and hook, jones (incl. Duncan) have to play that position while phillips stood in the flyhalf or centre position................... Cooper should be challenging and maybe Mike phillips is our answer at inside centre, who knows !!

  • 48.
  • At 10:42 AM on 21 Sep 2007,
  • Bryn wrote:

People are just being way to negative. Wales are trying to build a side for the future - it is not going to happen over night. Its not like Wales have been brilliant over the last few years ...I expect Wales to get through and play SA and I think that will be a good game. At least Wales try and play running, exciting rugby. Last nights performance was OK considering opposition...some good performances...think Martyn Williams, AW Jones had a good game as did Mike Phillips. I wish Wales best of luck for rest of the tournament

  • 49.
  • At 10:44 AM on 21 Sep 2007,
  • diesel wrote:

A huge scoreline patched over a mistake ridden game for Wales.

I am a huge believer in the fact that Wales concede too many points at international level. We have now shipped 20 points against both Canada and Japan who with all due respect, are not what you would call superpowers of international rugby.

If we play like that against South Africa, then shipping 40-50 points against them is not out of the question.

And why do we keep hearing the same old chestnut - "On their day Wales can beat anyone in the World".

When was the last time we beat the All Blacks? (50 years ago). When was the last time we beat SA? Australia have had the better of us recently too - so i dont subscribe to this 'we can beat anyone on their day' because it doesnt happen that often.

A disillusioned welsh rugby fan

  • 50.
  • At 10:46 AM on 21 Sep 2007,
  • MWH wrote:

Why is Shane williams playing in the first 15 ? He's in hopeless form. His 2 tries last night were catch & dive - he again created nothing & made loads of mistakes. He's doesn't come over as a team player, but just wants his 'try count record'. Wouldn't it be sensible to have him on the bench to bring on in the last 20 when the opposition defence has been smashed up a bit. Dafydd James would be a more reliable option.

  • 51.
  • At 10:54 AM on 21 Sep 2007,
  • Tom wrote:

I though Wales did well!!

Japan have improved alot and were obviously targeting this game for an upset. Their tackling was superb, hard hitting and they were hitting nearly every ruck hard.

Kevin Morgan wasnt that bad!! Who else do we have anyway? No one!!... His kick across field was and excelent idea, the execution was just wrong...!!

C'mon Lets stuff Fiji next weekend!!

  • 52.
  • At 10:56 AM on 21 Sep 2007,
  • Felice wrote:

Scoring 72 points has got to be a a good result at the end of the day but clearley everyone agrees that the performance was simply not up to scratch. We simply cannot compete with the southern hemisphere sides with handling like that.

I think the occasion got to the players and they maybe saw Japan as a soft touch but it was still dissapointing to see the lack of control within the game at times.

Apart from the rating of Martyn Williams I pretty much agree with the above.

I thought that D.James was solid again and what he lacks in speed he makes up for in reliability. A solid player that definatley should be on the bench. I personally feel that with Peel still not at his best Phillips should start at 9 but I have no answers for the problem 12 shirt but Alfie does need to play for Wales. He brings something to the team and makes a difference. Jones has earned his 10 shirt and I have to side with the negative Michael Owen comments. He simply looks overweight slow and doesn't catch the eye. Popham had a mediocre game but I still think he makes a huge impact around the pitch.

Great Japan try though.

  • 53.
  • At 11:08 AM on 21 Sep 2007,
  • oxtaff wrote:

No matter how well Wales play,or not, there will always a critic. Last night was an entertaining game which had the right result. Wales were criticised for not playing an open game last week, and for doing just that last night. For me it is the way we should play, but with a plan B for when it isn't appropriate. Although Moggy wasn't man of the match he wasn't a disgrace either. My Man of the Match was Colin Charvis, he was everywhere and it was such a pity he didn't get his record breaking try.

If Wales play the high pace, high risk and high reward style for the next two games I will be happy. If they get to play it a third time I will be too drunk to appreciate it! The fourth time will be on video!

Oh and it's Jones at 10 and Hook at 12 OK?

  • 54.
  • At 11:19 AM on 21 Sep 2007,
  • JB1973 wrote:

A W Jones and Mike Phillips outstanding, morgan doesn't apppear to want to know at the minute.

Do we have the power to hold the boks pack? sadly no in my view, quarters and out

  • 55.
  • At 11:20 AM on 21 Sep 2007,
  • ieuan wrote:

good accurate ratings i reckon for the game. the comments about martyn williams were a little unfair IMHO. he was quiet, but he was everywhere which is surely what you want in a 7.

kev morgan did have a shocker, but he is a class footballer & we should put faith in him.

in terms of the game, we were sloppy but that is because we were trying to play the game of rugby exactly how it should be played. as opposed to this cross breed of NFL and pre-sixth tackle rugby league that some teams play with and is killing rugby union.

  • 56.
  • At 11:29 AM on 21 Sep 2007,
  • Sean Kent wrote:

It's difficult for anytime to have the concentration and efficiency required against a lesser team like Japan - one thing to note is that it was Wales' highest score in a world cup game and from a team that hasn't been 1st choice yet. Jenkins has the pick consistently over the next two games if Wales even have half a chance, my only hope is that every team has an off day, South Africa are due one! Let's hope it's against Wales in the quarters!

Team going forward in my opinion:

1. G. Jenkins
2. R. Thomas
3. C. Horseman
4. I. Gough (Ian Evans isn't fit enough yet)
5. Alyn Wyn Jones
6. Colin Charvis (he'll play till he's 50 if he carries on like this)
7. M. Williams
8. Jonathon Thomas
9. M. Philips
10. S. Jones
11. S. Williams
12. J. Hook (it worked with Henson, no reason why it shouldn't with Hook - try him again against Fiji!)
13. T. Shanklin
14. D. James
15. G. Thomas

16. D. Jones
17. M. Rees
18. A. Popham
19. I. Evans
20. D. Peel
21. C. Sweeney
22. M. Jones

One more thing Kevin Morgan shouldn't even be in the squad, has been useless for over a year - shouldn't be in the 22!

  • 57.
  • At 11:31 AM on 21 Sep 2007,
  • John wrote:

As a neutral let me throw in my twopenneth. I have to disagree with some of the ratings here, with the exception of Morgan who was amateurish at best.

Martyn Williams was outstanding as usual, not sure what part of the game, you missed Sean, possibly the first 80 minutes?

Wales didn't particularly play well or badly, but they'll be disappointed with amount of turn over ball and basic handling errors (and an embarrassing kick and chase by Shane Williams and Hook). At one point it looked like Japan were going to stick with them and possibly even cause an upset, but the finishing was good enough to see them through. the second half was kore accomplished I thought, once Phillips got going a bit more.

It's a different match when you play the "lesser" sides and Wales knew that their job was to score tries, win the game and get a bonus point. They did that, so it's on to the next game.

It looked like a scratch side and played like scratch side, but Jenkins will have a few answers to his questions, namely Peel is a cert for 9, Hook still needs time (has he ever played full back?), Jones is cert for 10 and Thomas will be sorely missed as the full back berth is a gaping hole at the moment.

Fiji will look on with interest, but I think Wales should still have too much for them.

  • 58.
  • At 11:38 AM on 21 Sep 2007,
  • Richard Jones wrote:

Reasonably good performance I thought. We still make too many errors, particularly in the breakdown and floating intercepts. Rather than any horrible failure of basic skills, I think it's more that we're trying a little too hard to turn on the style. At least, I hope that :)

It'll be Alfie at 15 for Fiji. I agree about KM - I do have a soft spot for him, but he's getting increasingly erratic. Maybe it's time to give Lee Byrne a run after the WC, obviously, unless we get more injuries). I know he too can be erratic, but I like his counter attack moxy - the wilder parts of his play can be tamed with time. To be fair, he's the only young player putting their hands up for the 15 jersey that I can see.

As to the favourite argument of Welsh people everywhere, I don't see why they don't play as a 9/10 unit. In my mind, at least, it'd be Peel/Jones and Philips/Hook. Peel and Jones are more considered players, Philips and Hook enjoy breaking the gainline. Also, playing them as units will give them better understanding of what they're going to do? I'm a lock forward, so I don't know about the little fellas behind me, but is this such a stupid idea?

My choice for 9/10 for Fiji would be Philips/Hook, and this is me speaking as a dai'd in the wool Scarlet. We're going to need to impose ourselves on the game swiftly, and they're better equipped to do it.

  • 59.
  • At 11:39 AM on 21 Sep 2007,
  • LlywachCadwallader wrote:

Derek Belm - you are being unfair on Shane. He has always made some errors and been suspect defensively and susceptible to turnovers - this is the combination of his adventurous style and lack of physicality.

His recent tries have been at the end of team moves, but isn't that what wingers are supposed to do? If there was a better option then great, but neither Dafydd James nor Mark Jones have done anything exceptional in recent times to justify omitting Shane.

  • 60.
  • At 11:50 AM on 21 Sep 2007,
  • Steve Grant wrote:

I dont think we should get to excited about this match. The score line was not a true reflection of the game we played. The fact we scored so many points was mainly due to superior fitness and the fact that most of the japanise 1st team players are injured.

Against a team of a poorer skill and fitness level we still conceded 2 tries (ok they were of our own doing). IF we play like that against S.A. in the quaters then we will get destroyed. The Welsh handeling was poor, we got turned over far to many time by not having players at the breakdown and Japan picked up uncontested balls. We can't even pat ourselves on the back about the lineouts and Japan didn't contest most of ours!

As a team we seem to lack cohesion, with the forwards and backs seeming to work off different hymn sheets.

One plus was that it was good to see Ian Evans back, and with any luck he'll be back to his best in no time. Also well done Shane 50 caps and 2nd all time highest try scorer. I'm sure Alfie will be looking over his shoulder.

  • 61.
  • At 11:53 AM on 21 Sep 2007,
  • dave wrote:

will all those people who still think gavin henson should be at the world cup give it a break. He has shown no form for over a year and his present game was summed up when he came on for the ospreys against the scarlets and tried a drop goal from his own half which reached the scarlets 22.
I also believe that shane williams shouldn't be an automatic pick as the number of times he gets turned over or blows a scoring chance will cost us very dear against strong oppersition.

  • 62.
  • At 12:14 PM on 21 Sep 2007,
  • Mark Lynch wrote:

We need more faith boys. Despite the constant critisism Wales look to be in with as good a chance as most. On our day we are capable of beating the best in the world. I love watching flawless rugby as much as the next person (especially if it's done in a red shirt!) but its not as easy as some sides make it look. As far as i can see there are lots of positives, and areas to improve but were not out of it yet.

C'mon cymru.

  • 63.
  • At 12:23 PM on 21 Sep 2007,
  • Alex wrote:

How in the blue hell does Mike Phillips score a 7. What game were you watching? If he looks like a flanker and plays like a flanker then he's not doing his job at 9. We were left with no scrum half 3 or 4 times last night and against Fiji make no mistake, we will be punished. Yes he scored a try but against opposition that he could and should have done alot more. Mike needs to get his ego in check and go back to the drawing board.

Now for Gareth Jenkins. As a born and bred Turk I say this with no bias. Gareth Jenkins has lost complete touch with rugby. In his last season with the Scarlets it looked like we didn't really have a game plan and the team was as poor as it has been for the last 20 years. Since then he's gone to coach Wales and we look, well, clueless. It was the right man at the wrong time. Gareth should of been Welsh coach when he still had something to offer, now he'll be remembered in the long list of poor Welsh coaches.

  • 64.
  • At 12:28 PM on 21 Sep 2007,
  • Mike Lloyd wrote:

Philips and Hook No.! for Wales Peel and Jones on bench Steven Jones to slow for top class rugby Gareth Jenkins must go A.S.A.P Lee Byrne for full back .

  • 65.
  • At 12:50 PM on 21 Sep 2007,
  • Chris wrote:

I agree, no idea why Jenkins dropped Byrne in the first place, surely last night showed he should have been picked instead of Morgan.
Morgan hasn't been on form for ages, Byrne isn't perfect but is fast strong and keen!

  • 66.
  • At 12:57 PM on 21 Sep 2007,
  • Dai Upnunder wrote:

We on earth are people still going on about Henson for Wales when he can't even get in the Osprey's team. He's got flu now apparently

  • 67.
  • At 01:08 PM on 21 Sep 2007,
  • alan wrote:

agree with previous comments re Martyn Williams .... great game as always! think was Ok game but can't afford to make the same mistakes against "better" opponents. Interesting comment on the bbc sports page saying how Phillips says he should be number one now - quite possibility, but I won't say he had a "mercurial performance" as per the words "Peel looked in pole position before the Japan game, but Phillips showed exactly why he is rated so highly with a mercurial performance on Thursday."
think they will beat fiji - just about!

  • 68.
  • At 01:18 PM on 21 Sep 2007,
  • huw wrote:

kevin morgan is still by far the best full back we have. one or two erros and every ones on his back. shane williams had a pour game and every one thinks he's a hero.williams trys to much needs know when to pass.

  • 69.
  • At 01:25 PM on 21 Sep 2007,
  • Steve Grant wrote:

Only the short sighted and narrow minded WRU board could sack the worlds best coach in Graham Henry. Its quite simple thats where the problem with Welsh rugby starts. Mr Pickering and Mr Lewis do the right thing and make way for forward thinking people.

  • 70.
  • At 01:35 PM on 21 Sep 2007,
  • CraigTheFonZ wrote:

I think you're all missing the point you dimwits!!! And those scores are irrelevant!!

Last night we tried to play a fast, open and expansive game and to be fair I thought we were excellent.

It was never going to be a polished performance, with no handling errors, etc. as it was so fast paced.. And we've not tried playing like that for a good while now. So those of you with short memories would not remember that we found pretty good success with that kind of play during the last World Cup, and that of course then led onto the GS in 2005.

Remember that we are the only team in the NH that can try and play that kind of game, and when we're on it, we're on it.. Stop slagging the boys off for trying to play rugby!! I'd much rather us play like that and beat teams or try to beat teams than give it to the fat boys like England do!!!

For goodness sake mun!!

  • 71.
  • At 01:43 PM on 21 Sep 2007,
  • Pablo wrote:

A terrible team that won't progress.

Who chose those shirts? They are the worst in the tournament.

  • 72.
  • At 01:52 PM on 21 Sep 2007,
  • fred wrote:

Sean, its painfully obvious you are pretending to know what you are talking about . Please stop .

Thank you

  • 73.
  • At 01:55 PM on 21 Sep 2007,
  • Laz wrote:

Sorry Kevin Morgan is a weak full back. Last night just highlighted it.

  • 74.
  • At 02:16 PM on 21 Sep 2007,
  • Mike wrote:

Its the usual reaction to a big points win, oh we scored 72 points and 11 tries so its now all better, well its not, 60-70 was the expected result, we were playing Japan, we turned over too much ball, the first scrum we got wheeled and ball retention was rubbish, we gave away 2 soft tries, all against Japan, what are the boks going to do to us on that performance. Shane has scored tries but look who against, Japan & Canada, we need to tighten up big style and learn to go forward, not 50 yards across, fiji will be no way was easy as Japan, also as for Martyn Williams he was outstanding, what will wales fo when he and alfie retire, there is no-one to rescue us then.

  • 75.
  • At 02:26 PM on 21 Sep 2007,
  • memphis501 wrote:

This is clearly the first chance Wales have had to throw the ball around in this World Cup. It was a tough warm up period, the nerves were there against Canada and we just didnt seem to have the game plan, the physical presence and belief against Australia.

What's more important to me is a comment someone made about the back room coaching staff. Great point!! Just how long did it take GJ to pick these guys. Did he even make an effort to see who else was out there.

Personally I wasnt sure about GJ when he became coach but changing the Head Coach all the time seems so disruptive for the team. I would like to see the likes of N. Davies & Co. replaced with more experienced coaches. I mean honestly how much coaching experience has McBride had before coaching at this level? Thoughts anyone?

  • 76.
  • At 02:34 PM on 21 Sep 2007,
  • Big Daddy C wrote:

A few general points in the light of last night and the previous comments.

1. Shane Williams has been overrated for a long time. His defence is awful and his ambitions way exceed his skill levels.
2. James Hook is a talented footballer, but someone needs to teach him how to tackle, irrespective of whether he plays 10 or 12.
3. Mike Phillips has not lived up to his early promise. He seems to think that getting stuck in to rucks and mauls is more important than distributing the ball from them. And as for his decision-making - especially his use of box kicks? Forget it.
4. Peel might be slightly out-of-sorts, but he's still better than anyone in Wales in that position by a very long way.
5. It's the World Cup. Do you give the no. 10 shirt to an experienced, skilled playmaker or someone with one season of top-class rugby? Hmmm...
6. Finally, as usual anyone with Welsh blood in their veins thinks that they're a better coach than the current incumbent. But is there really anybody in Wales with a better track record than Gareth Jenkins? Under his guidance, the Scarlets were the most successful team in the toughest European club competition in Europe by a country mile. No other Welsh region has even come close to a Heineken semi-final - and the Scarlets were one kick away from a final twice. That has earned him - and the rest of his coaching team - the right to a proper shot at the job. So let's get real here people and give the whole team - management, too - our support. Constructive criticism is one thing: unrealistic whingeing does nobody any good.

  • 77.
  • At 02:59 PM on 21 Sep 2007,
  • Alex wrote:


If we play that way against anyone other than the lower ranked teams we will get smashed. Any dimwit(as you say) could see that they couldn't live with us up front so why not keep it tight and practise the things that were not very good at. I'm not saying go out there and try and play like England every game but at least have some variation to our game. It must be a ploy to kick down the chanel's (which clearly dosen't work) yet there's been no change in tactic. Do that to Fiji and they'll return it with interst. Once again we have no game plan, no tactical awareness yet people seem to be happy when we throw the thing around like headless chickens and hope for the best. Last night was embarrissing, whoever said we are the village idiots of world rugby wasn't far wrong.

  • 78.
  • At 03:13 PM on 21 Sep 2007,
  • touchy thomas wrote:

If mike Phillips does play against Fiji who is going to do the basic scrum half role of marshalling the break down. To many times the Japanese managed to steal this ball, and others players were required to go in this position to distribute the ball.
He had an excellent second half in broken play but should he have been passing the ball from the ruck instead of being in the outside half position to score his try. Unfortunately Dwayne Peels form has dipped and at present he is our best scrum half.

  • 79.
  • At 03:37 PM on 21 Sep 2007,
  • lostwelshman wrote:

I agree with CraigTheFonZ (post 70). I would rather see the boyz play exciting open rugby and lose in style than give a poor close display and still lose. If you don't try you don't achieve. It could be worse you could be English fans, how would you be feeling then. Wales have without doubt been the best NH team so far. Let's hope they can improve and iron out the errors and give SA a run for their money.

  • 80.
  • At 04:07 PM on 21 Sep 2007,
  • Ifan wrote:

I've been very patient with Gareth jenkins untill last night. He absolutely must go or change his tactics.

Players were not passing the ball out (Shane Williams major culprit), nor offloading in the tackle which would have led to much more tries. Rugby is a simple game when played well. Players should look around them for an offload instead of encouraged to take the ball in and go through the phases. It might work (at times) against Japan, but SA and possibly Fiji will be too physical for us to do that.

Mike Phillips is a decent scrum half but he seems to think he's the best in the world. Give him a reality check - Peel needs to start.

Hook needs another game at 12 against a physical Fiji side...jury still out on the position, but he needs to be on the pitch though.

Win against Fiji, lose to shocks

  • 81.
  • At 04:08 PM on 21 Sep 2007,
  • memphis501 wrote:

Big Daddy C, has it ever occured to you that the fact that the scarlets always fell at the last hurdle gives you some idea that this coaching team perhaps has not earned the right for a shot at the job? This is Wales not the scarlets and every role has to be filled with the best possible person for the job, even it means looking beyond our borders!

  • 82.
  • At 04:12 PM on 21 Sep 2007,
  • der englische Hacker wrote:

Pity about the reaction of some spectators to the first Japanese try - surely the try of the 2007 RWC so far. I know that it now seems to be customary for crowds at Twickenham and many English club grounds to boo scores by the visitors, but I had hoped that the Welsh knew better.

If spectators were booing the failure of their own team to pick up the ball at the base of the scrum, that's even worse - players at all levels need encouragement, not abuse.

  • 83.
  • At 04:19 PM on 21 Sep 2007,
  • jackstar35 wrote:

I thought your review of Michael Owen was odd. I rate Owen as one of the best attacking number 8's in the World and even though he was only on for 15-20 minutes he set a try up for Gareth Cooper, charged a kick down that led directly to a try, took the ball from a lineout and drove forward a number of yards to set up another try and at I thought brought some much needed structure to the Welsh team. If anything he makes everything look so easy that people sometimes don't notice his contributions!!

  • 84.
  • At 04:40 PM on 21 Sep 2007,
  • Big Al wrote:

I think some of the ratings must relate to a different game! Martyn Williams was superb, and by FAR the best back row player for Wales. Gets 9 from me. Alun Wyn Jones is playing really well, but wasn't a 'stand out' player as you'd expect from a rating of 9

Morgan and Shane were awful, really. Fragile in defence and far too many basic unforced errors. I'd give them both 4.

Hook was fantastic IMO - great try and a constant attacking threat. While he doesn't hit like Shanklin or Thomas in the tackle, he is by far Wales' most potent threat in midfield. After all, Jamie Noon can (allegedly) tackle in the England midfield but never seems to create a thing! I know which option I'd take! Hook gets 8 from me for a great performance

Mike Phillips was good too...bit loose at the breakdown on occasion, but a constant threat to Japan, and has proved he can do it against bigger sides (France). I'd give him a start against Fiji and decide on SA (assuming we get through the group) based on that performance.

The Australia game proved that we have to 'threaten' more. For me that means picking Hook in midfield, replacing Morgan at 15, and having Jones/James on the wings in order to actually cross the gain-line and be able to defend...

  • 85.
  • At 04:45 PM on 21 Sep 2007,
  • Mr B wrote:

Im sorry - but I just don't think that Wales have progressed since Mike Ruddock left. We can't really use physicality as an exuse anymore - we are a professional team with professional sized Rugby players(no disrespect to the Japanese.

I don't think that the Welsh teams woes are down to GJ alone - I think Gareth Thomas and all those living on the glory of the grand slam need to go away and reinvent themselves or just plain quit(that includes Mr Henson who quite frightengly is fighting for his rugby career).

10 Players living on their reputations or affiliation with GJ!

1. Gareth Thomas hasn't delivered in any rugby since the Grand Slam.

2. Stephen Jones has gone backwards since his return to Wales.

3. Kevin Morgan hasn't delivered since I can't remember when.

4. Dafydd James has failed to light my fire for a while.

5. Michael Owen - doesn't he struggle to actually play for the Dragons team?

6. Shane Williams - been injured but still looks dubious in terms of his game fitness.

7. Adam Jones - he is having a hard time scrummaging let alone getting around the park.

8. Gareth Cooper - my god, why did we need three scrum halves? We could have taken Cockbain, Byrne, Watkins, Gavin Evans or even my pet turkey!

9. Alix Popham - I haven't quite figured out what he is there for yet.

10. Sonny Parker - nice lad but my god he has struggled to find any decent form for club or country since he quit the international scene the first time.

I think the writing has been on the wall since Ruddock strangely left - the squad has got stale, and seems to almost pick itself. Eveything facet of the welsh team needs a change in order to breath any life in the spluttering Dragon.

  • 86.
  • At 04:49 PM on 21 Sep 2007,
  • Mike wrote:

Not too sure about the booing, I was there and must admit didn't hear any, but it was probably aimed at the lacklustre home team, as anything that japan did was totally applauded by all.

I do agree about playing open, expansive rugby, but one thing is ceratin we cannot do it for 80 minutes, we have to play controlled rugby, look what happened on Saturday, we kicked away aimless ball not even to the corners and we were then crucified by the best fullback in the world.

  • 87.
  • At 04:51 PM on 21 Sep 2007,
  • Thomas Ardwyn wrote:

I wonder how of the critcal know-it-alls actually play the game and if they do they could not hold a burnt-out candle stub to any one playing last night,
The game was won which is the sole purpose of any competitive sport. To win in an exciting way ,fine but to play exciting rugby and lose means you have failed and to win playing dull boring rugby,and we have seen enough of that means you have succeded. We must all wish for exciting winning rugby .in the meantime keep the cheap snide remarks to yourselves,

  • 88.
  • At 04:55 PM on 21 Sep 2007,
  • chris wrote:

As usual, most of the comments concern the backs. But our most pressing concern is to get the forwards going. Over the last few years, the following areas have been particularly poor:
i) our fitness
ii) our line-outs
iii) getting turned over at rucks

After the English match, the lineouts have miraculously improved -but I'm concerned about how the English lineout went against South Africa. The contact area is also still problematical - Popham got isolated for the first Japanese try - against South Africa, the ball-carrier has got to be properly supported. Is this a problem of fitness, communication, or lack of footballing awareness (lack of "sporting" intelligence)?

  • 89.
  • At 05:16 PM on 21 Sep 2007,
  • Maddox wrote:

Not sure what game Sean was watching, or perhaps he's trying to be provative to generate comment. However, looking at the Welsh play in general. Very high error rate and lack of cohesion and shape. However, how on earth is this team supposed to produce a consistent, precise execution with all the chopping and changing? they play like a scratch team because they are a scratch team. Who's the Capn, who's 10, 12, front row, back row, on the wing.....

We'll never be able to produce the big performance when necessary if we do not perfect it against the like's of Japan.


  • 90.
  • At 05:39 PM on 21 Sep 2007,
  • Charlie wrote:

There was constant whistling and jeering of the Japanese kicker as well, chirlish if you are playing a tight match and pretty reprehensible when you are thrashing minnows.

There was also some (although not a great deal) booing at the end that I couldn't work out, the Japanese had done nothing to offend and the Welsh had performed well enough not to deserve it.

  • 91.
  • At 07:50 PM on 21 Sep 2007,
  • Tigerlily wrote:

I thought the game was really exiting. But then again I'm young and get into things more. I wish people wold stop being so negative, they got an ace score and they deserved it! So they did make some mistakes - just things to learn by next time! Also I am not biased here either as I'm supporting all the uk teams. Wales has mainly cought my eye though just because I love watching them play. Phillips was amazing he was everywhere and constantly getting quick ball - he deserves more than a 7!! His power is amazing and he is so agile for a big man.He shold be put on against Fiji - let him prove himself again like he did in this game!It also helps that he is extremely easy on the eye!!!

  • 92.
  • At 08:00 PM on 21 Sep 2007,
  • downwiththerest wrote:

The display was comical at times, Mike Phillips on two occassions was watching for the ball in the ruck when it was free and to the left of him! Lots of wild, long passing. The Japanese turned over rucks throughout the match while Wales managed it twice. A poor,poor performance belied by the scoreline. Fiji will cream us at this rate, so there is no point thinking about S.Africa!

  • 93.
  • At 08:06 PM on 21 Sep 2007,
  • Tigerlily wrote:

What are you talking about nick, he played great through his whole game if he did leave the ball it was not often and I should know I have watched the game 3 times!! And if he was up with the forwards he was doing great there you cant help it if you have a chance to do something! If he was not witht eh forwards some of the time there would have been more Japanese balls. He did make mistakes but he is only human and when you ar ein a highly charged came the adreniline can make you goo before you remember "oh thats not my job".

  • 94.
  • At 09:10 PM on 21 Sep 2007,
  • Dewi John wrote:

Chris Horsman...7? He performs well in the set scrum: a facet of the game with limited importance... unlesss you are overwhelmed.... then is anonymous .He avoids work, is too slow and leans on in rucks and mauls.
He didn't give stupid penalties away this time to be fair.
Not good enough.
Ceri Sweeney... Appalling kicking.First touch was a knock on when he should have scored,Second touch was a kick that wasn't within a barn door... as was his last.
Will James?... oh dear

  • 95.
  • At 09:56 PM on 21 Sep 2007,
  • Derek Rowlands wrote:

Your evaluation of Martin Williams was wholly inacurate, please do not try to do this again as you are not experienced enough.

  • 96.
  • At 10:14 PM on 21 Sep 2007,
  • John Abraham wrote:

Mike Phillips had a goodish second half but is no scum half which he showed in the first half. Where was he? Certainly not doing HIS job.
If the backs do not learn how to align themselves we are going to give away even more interception passes. Why not attack from deep and and at pace.

  • 97.
  • At 12:15 AM on 22 Sep 2007,
  • georgie wrote:

well it might not have been the best wales performance by wales but dont forget a win is a win yes there is work to be done there is no ned to be so harsh some of you. It could be worse you could be english

  • 98.
  • At 10:03 AM on 22 Sep 2007,
  • John Budge wrote:

I don't know about anyone else, but the game I play on reading these comments is to guess where the writer is from. Their views then have to be taken in that context.

I'm from Llanelli: so make what you will of that, but I also think the Welsh coaching team is very poor. Whilst Gareth Jenkins and Nigel Davies at least have some track record with Llanelli and the Scarlets, there are others in the team who have no coaching experience whatsoever. The fact that they may have been competent internationals doesn't give them coaching experience. This experience needs to be earned and proven by a solid track-record. Some of the best coaches in the world, in all sports, weren't necessarily good players or even internationals. Think Brian Clough! The one man with the proven track record with Welsh connections needs to be brought back: Mike Ruddock.

As regards the game, we'd all have settled for 11 tries and 72 points before the match, so please see it in that light.

On the reputation making and character assasination that is the main feature of most comments, could I defend one player who doesn't deserve the brickbats: Will James. Whilst he didn't have a spectacular game he won 5 or 6 lineouts at both the front and the back; made several good tackles; and was in position in attack if certain players had passed. Wales are fortunate that they have 4 second rows in good form, although I'd pick Alun Wyn Jones and Ian Evans against Fiji.

Best of luck to Wales against Fiji. Please win, we don't need another crisis!

  • 99.
  • At 11:25 AM on 22 Sep 2007,
  • Ceri wrote:

To be onest, with wales i think it's about time somebody tries to get that Reagan King to play for us. I've always been a huge fan of our rugby team but judging by the amount they have colapsed in the last 2 years is unbelievable. They are no longer an exciting team to watch like they were 2 years ago and we need to get rid of gareth jenkins! I find it amazingly hard to find any good points about our performances in this world cup.

  • 100.
  • At 12:30 PM on 22 Sep 2007,
  • alun dow wrote:

Martyn Williams is an un-sung hero every match.

Wales' best back row forager since Basil Brush.

  • 101.
  • At 08:44 PM on 22 Sep 2007,
  • Jeremy T-B wrote:

Ratings aside. Against the Japanese I never got a great feeling going forward (hopefully) - should have been error free yet we saw turnovers, fumbles, missed tackles. We've seen England closed out and Ireland pinned to a few points by France - for me no chance unless you play a perfect game - did'nt happen against Japan and can't see it happening. But never give up is our motto.

I think we need to face reality...we are no longer a world force in rugby and have not been for some time, I know it's difficult to come to terms with being a proud welshman or woman but it's true.
Yes we will beat Fiji but it was only ever going to be the quarter finals for us, even Gareth Jenkins said that that was his aim?? We don't have a hope against SA, yes we will be proud and we will fling the ball wide when we are desperate, but as for a structured, professional, clinical performance...not a chance.
The best we can hope for is a generous obituary in the Western Mail that states, "Wales came back well in the last 20 minutes but left to much to do, maybe next time"
But let's face it, it's the same old story - we are in Division 2 of world rugby and the sooner we accept it the sooner we will be able to attempt to change it.
Having said all that, I do believe there is one way to take Wales forward and that is to play super fast rugby where we offload before the tackle EVERYTIME and take it to another level! but it's not going to happen with this management because they want to get too physical in attack.

  • 103.
  • At 09:13 PM on 22 Sep 2007,
  • kirsten wrote:

Can someone explain to me the vitriol poured all over Mike Phillips. Having read all the comments regarding his performance and incredibly his attitude, I find so called Welsh rugby fans a joke!! A number of comments suggested Mike has never fulfilled his potential, how do we know this when Japan was the first game he has started and the scant time he has been allowed to play in previous international games hardly allows for him to show his incredible skills. This comparison to Peel is wholly untenable, compare the international experience Peel has had the priveledge to receive (regardless of his form most of the time)in comparison to the scraps thrown at Mike. As for this nonsense regarding his attitude, please can someone tell what is so bad about a young player being ambitious, confident and hungry about his game and career. We Welsh love to build them up and knock them down dont we!!!! Watching the Welsh commentary after the game really highlighted how stitched up the Welsh international game is. All the ex players/commentators seemed to praise Mike between gritted teeth for his amazing plays while doing their best to push Peel down our throats yet again. I am sick of hearing Phillips is too egotistical and and all the snide almost bitchy backhand comments about his pretty looks. The Welsh media (press and explayers turned pundits)will have a lot to answer for if this raw natural talent is not given a fair chance. From a very angry Welsh rugby supporter

  • 104.
  • At 08:57 AM on 23 Sep 2007,
  • taf in aus wrote:

I agree with many of the comments about Martyn Williams.I thought he had a great game. I also thought there were some improvements in the overall game as well;the lineouts were much better for instance- a few games ago they were awful. The breakdowns are still a big problem, are some of he forwards too lazy to get across and get stuck in?I'd like to see more hard rnning from the front five as well.
As for some of the individual criticisms I find them a bit harsh and wonder where some of the comments come from.

  • 105.
  • At 08:16 PM on 23 Sep 2007,
  • Dai farmer wrote:

Looks like the quarters, how do we beat South Africa? I am no expert on rugby but forget set pieces, our line out will be questionable. I think the only real chance we have of beating SA is to throw caution to the wind! Throw the ball about the park, hook to chip and kick etc. Wales must start like live wires from the first minute for the WHOLE 80 minutes or face world cup exit.

  • 106.
  • At 09:08 AM on 24 Sep 2007,
  • Sean Davies wrote:

I've had a few days off since the Japan game - and returning to see how popular my ratings are, I'm wishing I'd stayed away!

To start on the defensive, I would point out that I did rate Martyn Williams as a '7' and only suggested that he was the quietest of three excellent back-row players for Wales in a very competitive area of the team - that was hardly a character assassination!

Having had chance to look at the game again, though, there's little I can say other than that, erm, I was wrong! Williams did deserve a higher rating. Excuses for my failings? I don't know, as an ex-plodding blind-side who never had the pace to get to the breakdown let alone get involved in fancy try-scoring stuff with the backs, maybe it's jealousy.

For the record, I think Martyn Williams is an outstanding player. I am also a big fan of Charvis in the seven jersey, though, and I've always had concerns that the balance of the back row isn't quite right when Charvis and Williams play together. Wales' best performances in recent years have been with either Charvis or Williams in the back row, not both together.

Williams aside, I'd more or less stand by my other ratings, although I did miss a couple of classy touches from Michael Owen near the end. It must be my mind blanking out the possibility that back-rowers can do anything other than slug it out again...

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