Cardiff beset by leaky problems

Cardiff 43 Munster 23
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The Independent Online
If it rains in Cardiff next weekend, the Harlequins, next up in Pool D of the European Cup, are advised to bring their wet suits and snorkels.

The situation at the Arms Park has to be seen to be believed. The old National Stadium is in the throes of being dismantled, making way for a pounds 120m ground to house the World Cup in 1999. The roof of the North Stand, which overshadows Cardiff's adjacent ground, has been removed and when it poured down last week, the newly refurbished function rooms of the club were flooded.

On Saturday, the teams socialised in a hastily erected marquee while no more than 50 yards away, workers continued their demolition. In short, Cardiff are operating within a spanner's throw of the biggest building site in the Principality.

Instead of buying Cardiff out, the Welsh Rugby Union and the Millennium Commission chose to pay pounds 21m to BT for land on the South Side. It looks as if they have got their wires crossed. Cardiff, meanwhile, may follow the example of Wasps and Saracens and pool their resources with a football club, namely Cardiff City.

For the visit of Munster, Cardiff's first home game of the season, nobody drowned as they walked the scaffolding because there was hardly a cloud in the sky.

In the corresponding match last season, Cardiff's half backs were Jonathan Davies and Robert Howley. On Saturday, Steve Wake and Lee Jarvis served the club well and although it was a handsome enough victory, it was by no means the finished product. For a start, Cardiff will have to plug the leaks in their defence against a Quins side who are committed to keeping the ball alive.

The Londoners will be grateful they will not have to face Nigel Walker who scored two cracking tries but pulled a hamstring in the process of scoring his second. Leigh Davies, who had a big hand in both, looked equally as sharp and in tandem they were virtually unstoppable on the left flank.

When they study a video of the game this week, Harlequins will also note that if they commit an offence anywhere within the region of the River Taff, Jarvis is capable of punishing them.

The penalty he kicked was from his own 10-metre line and what Quins should do is send the film to the Green Bay Packers. Jarvis could have a future in American football.

Munster contested most effectively through their back row, in which Alan Quinlan was outstanding, while the finishing of the right wing, John Lacey, was of the highest order, i.e. in Walker's class. However, they made too many mistakes to put Cardiff under serious pressure and now have the devil of a job to survive in Europe.

Despite the kind weather, and despite an advertising blitz, a crowd of no more than 4,000 went through the turnstiles.

Cardiff: Tries Walker 2, S Williams 2, Humphreys, Wake; Conversions Jarvis 5; Penalty Jarvis. Munster: Tries Lacey 2, Quinlan; Conversion O'Gara; Penalties O'Gara 2.

Cardiff: M Silva; N Walker (G Barnard, 34), L Davies, G Jones, S Hill; L Jarvis, S Wake (J Hewlett, 73); A Lewis, J Humphreys (capt), L Mustoe (D Young, 67), T Rees, D Jones (E Lewis, 65), G Kacala, S Williams (K Stewart, 75), G Jones (M Bennett, 77).

Munster: D Crotty; J Lacey, K Keane, R Ellison, A Horgan, R O'Gara, B O'Meara, I Murray (G Walsh, 72), M McDermott, P Clohessy, M Galwey (capt), U O'Callaghan, E Halvey, A Foley, A Quinlan.

Referee: B Campsall (England).