Slack Reds tread carelessly at Caerphilly

It took less than half a minute for Glasgow Caley’s season to start to go wrong in what was their poorest performance in Wales, a display that left coach Richie Dixon fuming.

"If these players have to front up again then they must have a different attitude to the game and the team," he said.

"They have to have a good look at themselves. They work hard, train hard, they have got to start passing examinations."

Caerphilly are expected to be one of the Welsh/Scottish League’s whipping boys, but the try they scored after 25 seconds summed up the contrasting determination of the two teams.

The home side kicked off, competed physically for the ball, won a ruck on the right and the overlap on the left gave flanker Gareth Jones the chance to make it over the line.

The Reds scored just the one try right at the death when replacement flanker Gordon Simpson barged over when there appeared to be no way through - by that stage, maybe, he found the gap in the home side’s smiles.

Caerphilly’s players couldn’t believe the poverty of Glasgow’s performance and coach Gareth Nicholas admitted they had singled out attitude as a way of making up the difference on paper between the two sides. "As soon as the fixtures came out we thought this was a good game for us to start the season. We wanted it more than they did," said Nicholas.

Caerphilly have recruited well over the summer, players on the fringes with top clubs, but still they fielded just one full international to Glasgow’s 11.

The Reds squandered any number of overlaps and opportunities near the line, though a try harshly disallowed for crossing just before half time was a crucial turning point.

Caerphilly had the boot of outside-half Luke Richards to thank for 16 of their points and the way he dictated the game, while lock Mark Workman went over easily enough from a first- half lineout on the line and centre David Hawkins sliced through from short range to seal the win late on.

That followed a break down the left by Sisi Fonua, the Fijian prop big enough to handle being called Sisi.

Dixon identified the problems accurately: "We had opportunities to get ourselves ahead and had we done so it could have been a different ball game. We are not taking the rewards when we are in the ascendancy.

"They were hungrier than us and played a territorial game while we were trying to play a possession game, but we lost the ball too much in the tackle and did not support our own ball carriers as aggressively as we should.

"They showed tremendous heart and a limited tactical game and kicked their goals."

Simpson’s gradual return to match fitness will help, as will the recovery of full-back Glenn Metcalfe, but there was more bad news on the injury front for the Reds as replacement scrum-half Fraser Stott could be out for some time after damaging a knee cartilage, while Graeme Beveridge went off after a knock on the head.

The Reds do not need to reassess the basic game plan, but they need to look at the speed of the support, their commitment in 50-50 situations and how to score tries when a defence is putting everything into trying to stop them.

Rugby is a game where you can only be flashy on the back of hard physical commitment, and the Reds were badly lacking in the latter at Caerphilly on Saturday.

Scorers: Caerphilly: Tries: G Jones, Workman, Hawkins. Pens: Richards 4. Cons: Richards 2.

Glasgow Caley: Try: Simpson. Pens: Chalmers 2. Con: Chalmers.

Caerphilly: J Thomas; N Berbillion, R Boobyer, D Hawkins, S Marshall; L Richards, A Jacobs; C Fitzpatrick, J Hughes, M Wilson, M Workman, N Jones, B Watkins, G Jones, A Williams. Subs: S Fonua for Wilson, 25mins. M Bolton for Fitzpatrick, 57, N Watkins for N Jones 64, C John for Hawkins 71, T Carless for Hughes 76, N Strong for A Williams, J Hooper for Berbillion, both 80. Temp rep: Strong for Watkins 43-68.

Glasgow Caledonians: B Irvine; J Steel, R Shepherd, I Jardine, J Craig; C Chalmers, G Beveridge; D Hilton, G Bulloch, G McIlwham, S Griffiths, J White, R Reid, J Petrie, G Flockhart. Subs: F Stott for Beveridge 40mins, M McKenzie for Irvine 50, G Simpson for Flockhart 63, J Stuart for Stott 68.

Referee: T Rowlands (Treorchy).

Champions Cardiff got their league campaign off to a winning start - but they were made to fight every inch of the way for their 35-30 success against Neath at the Arms Park.

It was the local All Blacks Neath who got the first try through prop Duncan Jones, who drove over from a lineout.

A Craig Morgan touchdown got Cardiff back in the game, aided by the ever-accurate boot of Neil Jenkins who kept the scoreboard ticking with his penalties. Andrew Millward then hit back for Neath with a try converted by Wales wing Shane Williams.

But Canadian flanker Dan Baugh sealed the game for Cardiff with his late try, followed by a Jenkins drop-goal.

A penalty in the third minute of injury-time from Llanelli’s Test fly-half Stephen Jones stole a dramatic 12-11 victory over big-spending Newport at Stradey Park.

Newport’s new signing Matt Mostyn scored the only try of the game, with Shane Howarth kicking the rest of their points. Home star Stephen Jones won the boot duel, however, with four penalties - the winner coming with the last kick of the game.

Lee Jarvis kicked 18 points as Pontypridd put their summer worries behind them to beat Swansea 33-22 at Sardis Road. Brett Davey, Brett Cockbain and Richard Johnson bagged their tries, while the boot of Arwel Thomas kept Swansea in the picture.

Promoted Cross Keys had no answer to the second-half power and pace of Bridgend, who earned a useful 37-12 away victory.

A shock was on the cards when the home side led 12-10 at the interval, Loan Bebb landing four penalties.

Bridgend got their act together with Tongan recruit Siua Taumalolo adding to Maama Molitika’s early try as the floodgates opened.

Fly-half Craig Warlow finished with four conversions and three penalties.