David Young, the beleaguered Cardiff coach, cut a solitary figure as he chewed the fat on a distinctly lively - or, as the local vicar might have preferred to put it, profoundly sinful - exercise in public disorder at the Arms Park. "We've taken huge steps up in these games against Gloucester, but the negatives still hit you smack in the chops," he said. Young was not alone, whatever he may have thought. In the Welsh capital on Saturday, virtually everyone got a smack in the chops.
It took a while for the volcano to erupt - the best part of 70 minutes, as a matter of fact - but when the lava finally appeared, it poured down the mountainside in torrents. Adam Eustace and John Yapp went at it like two bare-knuckle heavyweights of old; the two Powells, Ryan of Cardiff and Gary of Gloucester, will not want to discover each other on the family tree after an outbreak of hostilities that made the audience flinch; and when Deiniol Jones, an inoffensive looking lock, managed to offend every corpuscle in Jake Boer's body with a cheap shot at a ruck that had trouble written all over it, the entire cast decided to join in the fun and games.
Like Gary Powell before him, Jones ended up in the cooler. Somehow, Boer stayed on the field, despite the Tysonesque quality of his punching. "I won't be scouring the video to find someone to cite, but if something jumps out at me and I feel it's a question of protecting my players, I'll consider taking action," Young said. Given the nature of the available evidence, not to mention the volume of it, the three-tour Lions prop would have to be as blind as a bat not to spot a Gloucester transgression that might interest the disciplinary set. There again, an accusation from the Blue and Blacks might easily lead to a counter-accusation from the Cherry and Whites.
If Young is smart, he will put it down to experience and move on. For starters, he was no angel himself; for secondaries, Cardiff are nowhere near as hopeless as their results make out, especially with the likes of Martyn Williams, Gethin Jenkins and Tom Shanklin on board. Once they stop making daft mistakes for no good reason, as Craig Morgan did in letting Marcel Garvey slip away for a soft try that allowed Gloucester to change ends a point to the good at 7-6, they will make strong sides suffer.
For the time being, though, Gloucester are marginally better in all departments. They scrummaged strongly at the weekend, made a mess of the Cardiff line-out when the lock Alex Brown was introduced after the interval, and in Garvey, Duncan McRae and James Forrester they had players who dared to be different. And then there was Andy Gomarsall, that curate's egg of a half-back. On Saturday, the good bits were there for all to see: a sharp service to McRae, an intelligent kicking game and a pair of try-saving tackles on Lee Thomas and Fereti Tuilagi, both of them priceless.
Garvey's try was the turning point, Jon Goodridge's excellent finish early in the second half the game-breaker - the result of some accurate long passing and a transparently obvious piece of midfield obstruction by half the Gloucester pack which was inexplicably missed by the referee, Alan Lewis, whose super-slick hair-do appeared sharper than his eyesight.
Young did not moan about the officiating, any more than he moaned about the biff. Like all good props, he'll sort it out next time.
Cardiff: Try Morgan; Conversion L Thomas; Penalties L Thomas 3. Gloucester: Tries Garvey, Goodridge; Conversions Paul 2; Penalties Paul 3.
Cardiff: R Williams (N MacLeod, 72); F Tuilagi, S James, T Shanklin, C Morgan; L Thomas, R Powell; G Jenkins, R Thomas (G Williams, 76), M Jones (J Yapp, 53), D Jones, R Sidoli, N Thomas (R Sowden-Taylor, 66), K Schubert, M Williams (capt).
Gloucester: J Goodridge; M Garvey, T Fanolua (N Mauger, 60), H Paul, J Bailey; D McRae, A Gomarsall; C Bezuidenhout, J Parkes, G Powell, A Eustace, M Cornwell (A Brown, 44), J Forrester (P Buxton, 73), A Balding, J Boer (capt).
Referee: A Lewis (Ireland).