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ON THE BALL. "Welsh Athlete" Reckons Up Saturday's Play. SOME LIVELY PARS. If one is to judge by the interest taken in Saturday's practice match, the Cardiff Club are likely to experience an eminently satis- factory financial season during 1893-4. There could noii have been less than from four to five thousand people on the Park, and the sec- retary of the Cardiff Club informs me that, besides the money taken at the gates, every available ticket had been snapped up before noon on Saturday. "Nothing." it is said, succeeda like success," and the early in- terest evinced in the doings of the "blue ad blacks can only be put down to thtir run of successes last year. Only eight of last year's team turned out on Saturday, D. W. Evam, N. Big-gos, Elliott. fitaigerald. Hill, Cope, Burke, and Craves being absent; but, still, there was sufficient proof afforded by the play that the fifteen likely to represent the Cardiff Club in their approaching campaign will uphold the best and worthiest traditions of the team. Taking the Probables, for example, Gus Lewis, the two Davieses, and Guinea were in every bit as good form as last year; they have the advantage of 3till being young and lusty, added to which the season past has enabled them to obtain plenty of cleverness and resource. Dobson and Smith were the new additions to their ranks, and I have very little hesitation in prophesying that both men will find a place in the forward rank of the team proper. Both are hard workers, and possess their share of cleverness. Smith was the most conspicuous on Saturday, showing marked, cleverness in his foot-work in the open; but in the scrum and at the line-out there is little to choose between them. Practically, this pa.ir are all that will be required to make up the pack, which during Cope's absence may be composed as foUows —Hill, Lewis, W. Davies, R. Davies, Guinea, Cravos, Smith, and Dobson. e.. With N. Biggs, Pearson, and Elliott all available. the question arises who will make the fourth man in the quartette. Fitzgerald, I am led to understand, will not be available. Turning to Saturday's players, I should select C. Williams and Gwyn Nicholls as the only likely pair the committee have to choose from. The last-mentioned did fairly well, but was a bit wild. Williams, however, played a sound, clever game. He was a bit selfish at times, and hardly turned his passes over in the most approved style. But these are faults that can easily be cured by practice. lie is a bit light, perhaps, but, still, I noticed that did not detract from his defence, and in his attack he showed considerable trickiness and resource. Taken all round, I am inclined to the opinion that he is the best man available, and is certainly worth giving a trial in the next two matches. At half, there is, of course, no necessity to look beyond Sweet-Escott and S. Biggs. The pair played together magnificently on Saturday, their combination being equal to anything witnessed in Wales last year. Francis was easily best of the opposing pair, and should secure his place in the second string, although he has no pretensions to first-class honours. e.. In the back division, Smithsen improved on his previous Saturday's display, but at present I cannot think he is up to the standard required. He is pretty safe in stopping a rush, but generally goes down with the ball in his possession, and once or twice he lost it close on his line. Hughes kicked as smartly as in the olden days, but was weak in tackling, although, to give him his due, he was so indisposed that he ought not to have gone on the field. Between the pair, Smithson wa,s the best on Saturday's play, but I should like to see E. P. Biggs given another trial as custodian. We have proof of his kicking and collaring abilities, the only point in doubt being as to his fielding. Before concluding, I should like to give my idea of a team which is as follows:—Back, E. P. Biggs; three-quarters, T. W. Pearson, J. Elliott, C. Williams, and N. Biggs; halves. R. B. Sweet-Escott and S. Biggs; forwards, A. Lewis, A. F. Hill, R. Davies, W. Davies, R. Guinea, Smith, Cravos. and Dobson. e Concerning the Coventry-Newport match, played on the Usksiders' ground, I regret that I cannot write anything very "high- falutin'" of the display of our neighbours just over the border. As a. start, it was creditable that they got through comfortably with a win, but there was a transparent falling-off in the dash and go, the machine- like passing, and the all-round skill which they treated the football world to in the two previous seasons. One can hope and believe that they will come on and resume their former style as the winter advances. # They certainly want back in the ranks, writer my corespondent, some of the stagers who were mere spectators on Saturday. Graham, Hannen, and Percy Phillips were amongst those standing idly by. The old skipper, I hear. is pretty well fixed in his decision, not to plav again, but Hannen will, it is hoped, soon bustle about in the pack once more. He was asked, coming away from the match, when be was going to resume, and the laconic reply came, "Shortly." It's Percy Phillips, however, who is the most missed of all. Mat Hannen comes off occasionally as a substitute, but he is far from being up to Percy's stan- dard, nnd for the sake of the team the New- port Chevalier ought to resume his partnership with Parfitt. e.- The ranks of the three-quarters on Saturday wwre denuded, not only of Bert Gould. who in browninir in the West Indies, but also of Cooper, who was sprinting at an athletic meeting at Bolton. Charlie Thomas and James (of Abergavenny) were fairly efficient substitutes for a match a trffle below the first order, .Tamgs showing some promise of better things to come. He might possibly be utilised in the centre with Arthur Gould, and then with Dauncey and Cooper on the wings the quartette would be strong agsfin. 0 The new skipper was nearly as smart as usual. His coolness and all-round smartness were as conspicuous as ever, although he showed at times a slight falling off in pace— at any rate, judged by the manner in which Frith, the Coventry wing man, a few times brought him down. The combined, systematic passing which used to be so distinguishing a feature of the Newport rear division was hardly so strong as of yore, but in that, as .in other matters, there is time as well as room for improvement. The two packs of forwards were fairly well- balanced, Boucher and Pook, on the Newport side, and A. C. Hill and .Murphy, 01/ behalf of Coventry, being the pick. The Midlanders for the most part stuck to the old arrange- for the most part stuck to the old arrange- ment of nine forwards and three three-quar- ters, but occasionally for defensive purposes sent out Carpenter as a fourth three-quarter. Individually, there were many clever bits of play amongst the visitors, but the lack of good combination and inability to make the most of opportunities in the open spoilt their scoring chances. Frith at three-quarter and I Slater, who stood out deep at half, to take passes from Rice (which seldom came), were the most conspicuous of the Coventry con- tingent. My Swansea correspondent" writesTha Cardiff Harlequins had, I am afraid, little to congratulate themselves upon in the team they trotted out on Saturday. They met a team which has been peculiarly unfortunate in regard to getting a representation together, and they played against only thirteen of this represen- tation for most part of the game, yet they failed to score, and were never near snoring, a [point. The 'Quins team, whilst seemingly as smart on their feet as ever, are evidently not the team of last season—at any rate up to the pre- sent. The loss of Wilding- is undoubtedly a big one for them, but beyond that, it was evident the fifteen had not practised much together. True, this was their first match, and this, perhaps, accounted for the absence of precision and want Qf effect in nearly every- thing they attempted." #* As regards Swansea, they certainly made a slightly better show than they have done so far. A friend of mine who saw them play against Oldham tells me their display there was wretched, and he has never known a worse team doing battle for the honour of the all- whites than this season's." On Saturday they certainly brightened up a little, but were it not for the old facility for" drop-goal-getting which is shown by individual members of the rear contingent Swansea would not have had so much to boast about on Saturday in crossing the Harlequins' line only once. I must treat at once of the most serious feature of the game. Swansea is under a cloud, and misfortunes seemed to crowd themselves upon her on Saturday. Her best forward was laid out, and, according' to present reports, will have to be in retirement for at least six weeks. Williams, another of the "picked ones" in the team, had a. broken nose, and had also to retire early in Saturday's game. When one comes to think of it, Swansea's show must have been rather promising, therefore, to win by eleven points to nil with only thirteen men playing for quite an hour of the time. The first half was far more interesting than the second half. The latter half was as barren of incident as it was of good play so I will leave it severely alone, hoping for better things. The Harlequins started very keenly, and looked like knocking pieces out of the all whites. Steadily the latter took their measure, how- ever, and in a quarter of an hour the Swansea forwards, not to be denied, fell over the line and scored. Afterwards the play was chiefly in Swansea's favour, and they were near enough to get a couple of drop goals and a couple of minors. Thorogood's goal was neat and tricky he was very close, and the leather was over before anyone could look round. Bancroft was in superb form on Satur- day. He was simply dazzling, saving Iris men continually by the hugest punts, and never being even touched by an opponent. His drop goal was from a long, but decisive, kick, and went high over the centre. The 'Quins were, as I have said, decidedly "off." Their passing was very slovenly, and never gained much ground. Jago was the best of the quartette, and Read backed him up very well at times. The halves on either side were fairly matched, but I slightly preferred the Swansea pair. Tustin and Phillips seemed well on the ball in front. Mills was playing a fine game for Swensea till he retired, and Rice, Russell, and Livingstone, after his retirement, worked like niggers to maintain the lead they had gained. The Llanelly team started badly on Saturday, when they were beaten by Morriston. If the tin-platers don't pull up they will get left out of the ranks of first-class football. Three causes contributed to the poor display of the homesters. Firstly, the dispute between tho players and the committee, which was not closed until Friday nighi. Secondly, a refusal to play on the part of several players, who consider they have not been fairly treated in the past. Thirdly, indifferent captaining. Of the fifteen players, two only of the backs need be mentioned—Every, the back, who was the one man who played brilliantly, and Ben Thomas, who did fairly well. The others were indifferent—or worse. The game was lost fair and square. Unless those who manage can. by some drastic scheme of reform, absolutely change the present condition of things, there are bad times in store for the club. Morriston is a team which, if kept together, will come to the front. On Saturday Conway Rees (the Oxonian), his brother Harry, and a couple more Llandovery men played for it. The team is capable of good work behind. Conway Rees was the pick of the lot, and his try, which was goaled. was as pretty a one as I ever witnessed. Jack Davies, of Pontar- dawe, was next best in a back contingent capable of smart work, but hardly up to the mark yet in passing. The forwards were a smart, sturdy lot, and kept their halves better employed than their opponents. # The Penarth match was not first-class. The movements of the home team at times were most erratic. The two centre three-quarters were the greatest sinners in this respect, whilst all round the display of the backs was not nearly so good as on the previous Saturday. The wing men got few opportunities to shine, but what chances did come in their way they utilised to the fullest extent. # # # Alexander, although inefficiently fe3, managed to bring off some brilliant runs, and showed good sprinting powers. On the other wing Kirbr was hardly so good. Shepherd and Lambert at half played well, and the run by which the former put in Kirby, from half-way, was a salient feature of the match. Tanner, the-home custo- dian, was very safe. *# Both packs of forwards played a strong, vigorous game. The Penarth eight were the cleverer, but the others were the hardest workers. Spencer, Morris, and Evans were about the best of the home eight. Green, Mills, and Casey were the pick of the Llwynvpia lot. Williams was the only one of the visiting backs who can be accounted smart, and ho on one or two occa- sions got off very well indeed. Phillips in the centre tackled keenly, and also saved well, but he, like his confreres, was very deficient in attacking qualities. # # The Pontypridd and Neath match was even, but was only so so as regards science. The strong feature of the Pontypridd play was the passing of the third line. It seems a pity that they should not 'be better fed by their halves. *#* Both backs played a good game. J. Davies, the Neath custodian, was a. few points ahead of his opponent, especially in the kicking. Nash, the Pontypridd full back, had only played with the team once before, but he is safe. Morgan would make a better custodian. He plays a fair game at three-quarter, but his proper place should be by the posts. A. B. Evans and Ben Lewis were the pick of Pontypridd's third line. Trick and W. Jones took the palm on the Neath side. At half Pontypridd was thoroughly beaten. *8 At half Pontypridd was thoroughly beaten. Wat Thomas and A. Cross were quicker and more tricky than the home pair. The homesters were probably weakest in the front line, the best of the pack being Ack Llewellyn (captain), Tom Murray, and P. Devereaux. Murray played for the first time since he dislocated his shoulder at a practice match a few weeks ago. The Neath forwards were not brilliant. They worked hard, but were not the cleverer pack of the two neither in the scrum nor m the loose. #* It appears to have been a tough contest at Peijygxaig. Taibach are a sturdy lot all round, but the football exhibited was of an inferior quality. The visitors were determined that the ball should be kept close, and the result was that the game consisted of a continual series of scrums. Dan Williams and Nicholas were the best of a good pack of forwards, and if they played proper football they would be quite equal to the home lot. None of the Taibach backs shone, excepting the custodian, who played a magnificent game. # For Penygraig F. Reynolds was not seen at his best, owing to an injury received during the week, which prevented him from handling the ball. Rowlands played a strong attacking game, but his passing was not as accurate as usual. Emlyn Lewis was sorely missed at half, though Rees played well. Granville was the best of the home backs. J. Moyle, Evan Jones, and Sam Thomas were in fine form in the front rank. The Penygraig- team for this season is capable of doing fine work, but they certainly must not underrate their opponents, as they evidently did on Saturday. The Aberaven match was a rather one-sided affair, the homesters being superior in all departments. The forwards 'vheeled and carried the scrums in fine style. Tuey also excelled in the three-quarter division, their 'e passing being a decided improvement. Sellaway was tried in the centre, and did well for his first appearance. James Roberts and John played up to their usual standard. Where the homesters shone best, however, was at half, Peters excelling himself and working the scrums in rare fashion. Rees Lewis at full- back was safe, his kicks always finding touch. "11 # The visitors need combination. Forward they are a smartish lot, but at times they lost their heads and played wildly. The three-quarters were only middling, and the halves were a bit too much disposed to off-side tactics. There should be a good word for Potter at back. He is a good all-round player he is cool, never flurried, and is a good kick. 4




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