Posts by Paul Stollery

North moves to centre to set up big battle with Bastareaud

Things don't get easier for Warren Gatland's Wales after the 26-3 defeat to Ireland last time out

Things don’t get easier for Warren Gatland’s Wales after the 26-3 defeat to Ireland last time out

Wales will be hoping to bounce back from their crushing 26-3 defeat against Ireland when France come to the Millenium Stadium.

 

Wales v France Betting Odds

Wales to win – 1.62

France to win – 2.30

Draw – 19.00

(All odds provided by AllYouBet.ag are accurate as of today and subject to change)

 

Warren Gatland has made three changes for the Friday night fixture, with Mike Phillips dropping to the bench. George North moves to centre due to injury problems and Luke Charteris returns from injury. Mathieu Bastareaud returns for France, with injured Bernard Le Roux replaced by Wenceslas Lauret.

Lions and Racing Metro scrum-half Phillips will be replaced by Osprey Rhys Webb after a disappointing game against Ireland. Wales coach Warren Gatland isn’t one to sugar-coat his criticisms of his own players, and the fact that Phillips has been first choice Lions scrum-half in five out of the last six tests cuts no ice with the Kiwi, who brings in 5-cap Rhys Webb.

 

“We weren’t happy with Mike’s performance against Ireland… He was probably a little confrontational one-on-one with Conor Murray and was yellow-carded towards the end of the game,” the coach said.

“By putting him on the bench and giving Rhys Webb a chance, we’ve given him an opportunity to reflect. At the moment, we feel Rhys will give us a different dimension.”

 

George North moves into the centre due to injuries to Jonathan Davies and Scott Williams. “Wing is ideally where I have been playing for the past few years,” said North. “To put on the Welsh jersey, any position, is happy days. So for me it’s another challenge.”

The Northampton and Lions star will be replaced on the wing by Scarlets full-back Liam Williams.

 

It’s easy to forget that George North is still only 21. The young Lion will face a huge test in the middle with the colossal Mathieu Bastareaud returning from injury. Toulon centre Bastareaud has been struggling with a shoulder injury, but has been cleared to start on Friday.

Flanker Bernard Le Roux suffered a nasty blow in the 30-10 win against Italy. After struggling with concussion, he’ll be replaced by fellow Racing Metro flanker Lauret.

 

Wales have struggled for form in 2014’s 6 Nations campaign. They opened their account with an unconvincing, though admittedly comfortable, win against Italy in the Millennium Stadium. The 2013 campaign started slowly, with defeat against Ireland, however the Welsh went onto win the tournament.

No such bounce back this year, however. Wales suffered a crushing defeat at the hands of the Irish, losing 26-3. Up next is France, who are favourites to win the tournament after edging past England in the opening weekend, then cruising past Italy with a 30-10 victory.

 

It’s going to be a tough night for Wales. A repeat of last weekend’s performance will surely see a hammering from Les Bleus.

 

Betting Instinct Tip – While Wales have home advantage, they will have to make a big improvement on their last performance. France seem good value to win at 2.30 with Intertops.eu.

 

Wales: Leigh Halfpenny, Alex Cuthbert, George North, Jamie Roberts, Liam Williams, Rhys Priestland, Rhys Webb, Gethin Jenkins, Richard Hibbard, Adam Jones, Luke Charteris, Alun Wyn Jones, Dan Lydiate, Sam Warburton (Captain), Taulupe Faletau.

Replacements: Ken Owens, Paul James, Rhodri Jones, Jake Ball, Justin Tipuric, Mike Phillips, Dan Biggar, James Hook.

France: Brice Dulin, Yoann Huget, Mathieu Bastereaud, Wesley Fofana, Hugo Bonneval, Jules Plisson, Jean-Marc Doussain, Thomas Domingo, Dimitri Szarzewski, Nicolas Mas, Pascal Pape (captain), Yoann Maestri, Yannick Nyanga, Wenceslas Lauret, Louis Picamoles.

Replacements: Brice Mach, Yannick Forestier, Vincent Debaty, Sebastien Vahaamahina, Damien Chouly, Maxime Machenaud, Remi Tales, Gael Fickou

Referee: Alain Rolland (IRFU)
Assistants: John Lacey, Dudley Phillips (IRFU)
TMO: Graham Hughes (RFU)

AntonyPAUL STOLLERY (paulstollery) is a Cardiff City fan and Ron Swanson enthusiast. He writes about football and rugby for Betting Instinct

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Ireland versus Wales – The Game in Tweets

The second weekend of the RBS 6 Nations saw current champions Wales lose to Ireland, and Betting Instinct writer Paul Stollery was following the match on Twitter. Here’s how it went.

Gatland was doing the usual round of pre-match interviews. ‘Cheeky’ smile as ever.0 Gatland

However it’s fair to say that certain Welsh fans weren’t hugely optimistic in the build up.

2 BOD

But still, when you’ve got 50 cap wonder-boy Leigh Halfpenny on your side, what can go wrong? Go on, look at those cherub cheeks. Tell me everything isn’t going to be OK.

1 Halfpenny cap

However it was a tough start for Wales. Jonathan Sexton opened the scoring, with a penalty after a jinking run from Dave Kearney. Sexton then went on to double Ireland’s lead with a penalty after Hibbard was penalised for not rolling away.

Things went from bad to worse for the visitors as Chris Henry went over to put Ireland even further ahead.

4 try

Ireland went in at half-time with a 13-0 lead.

There was little for the Welsh fans to cheer about, but for Jonathan Davies’ ability to rock a tweed jacket.

6 tweed

Ireland continued to dominate the game. It was a much closer competition in the beard-off however. Ball edged a close fought contest against D’arcy. Say what you like about Welsh rugby, their bearding is second to none.

7  beard-watch

I have to admit, we might have got a little off track in the second half.

9 tweed again

Just a bit.

10 tweed again 2

Well, ok, a lot. Anything to lessen the blow for Welsh fans.

11 tweed again 3

It took nearly an hour for Wales to get their first points on the board, with a penalty from Leigh Halfpenny. It was too little, too late however, as Ireland continued to pile on the points.

The Irish tied up the game with another try, this time from Paddy Jackson. 26-3 was the final score.

15 final whistle

But at least the Irish were gracious about it.16 irfu

It was a big blow for Wales. Whereas many will be quick to point out that the Welsh lost to Ireland last year, it was the manner of the defeat which was the biggest cause for concern. It was a crushing blow with little to take away from it. Perhaps most worrying of all, was this stat courtesy of Opta Jonny, which we’ll leave you with.

18 Sam

 

 

 

AntonyPAUL STOLLERY (paulstollery) is a Cardiff City fan and Ron Swanson enthusiast. He writes about football and rugby for Betting Instinct

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer: A big talent and a huge gamble

Solskjaer has built a great reputation for himself in the Norwegian Tippeligaen

Solskjaer has built a great reputation for himself in the Norwegian Tippeligaen

New Cardiff boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has been touted as one of the most promising young managerial talents in Europe.

The former Manchester United striker started his coaching career managing the reserves at Old Trafford, under the tutelage of Sir Alex Ferguson, whose only apparent managerial weakness was the ability to name a successor.

Solskjaer then moved back to his native Norway to manage Molde, and after a shaky first few games took the Tippeligaen (that’s the Norwegian League for folks who aren’t big on Nordic football) in his first season.

He retained the league title the following season and also went on to win the Norwegian cup.

Whilst at Molde, he turned down an approach from Aston Villa, and was in talks with other clubs – rumoured to include West Bromwich Albion – before eventually moving to Cardiff City.

He was, it’s fair to say, quite in demand. And it’s easy to see why. He was young, talented, and very well thought of in the managerial community.

However despite all this, Solskjaer is still a huge risk for Cardiff. Despite coming with bags of talent, he comes with very little experience.

English Premier League relegation betting odds

Crystal Palace – 1.57

Sunderland – 1.60

Cardiff City – 2.40

(Odds provided by AllYouBet.ag are current as of today but subject to change.)

Many will say I’m being far too harsh on the young Norwegian, and point to the similarly inexperienced Mauricio Pochettino. Many Southampton fans were dismayed at the sacking of Nigel Atkins. ‘Foreign owners know nothing about football!’ they cried. Those cries petered out as The Saints shot up the table.

Vincent Tan will be hoping for – or more likely expecting – a similar effect. However Pochettino is more likely the exception than the rule.

You only need to look to Cardiff’s fellow new-comers (and members of crazy owner club) Hull City to see what experience can get you.

Steve Bruce has worked wonders on a far smaller budget with Hull. A lot of that will be down to his experience. Bruce knows about a relegation scrap; he’s been in enough of them.

Cardiff fans will be delighted to see Solskjaer take the reins at Cardiff, especially considering the other names that the Welsh club were linked with. The likes of Ian Holloway, Alex McLeish and Paolo Di Canio were linked with the top job at Cardiff. Quite frankly I think Cardiff fans would rather Vincent Tan manage the team himself than have any of those three.

Solskjaer offers a lot more promise than many others on the list and could potentially lead the club on to many great things. His lack of experience could also see them slide down the table. Or maybe they’ll stay right where they are. I don’t know. I’m terrible at predictions.

Betting Instinct Tip – Cardiff City to beat West Ham United on Saturday is 2.02 with GR88.com

AntonyPAUL STOLLERY (paulstollery) is a Cardiff City fan and Ron Swanson enthusiast. He writes about football and rugby for Betting Instinct

A brief history of Vincent Tan’s crazy Cardiff City reign

Vincent Tan has repeatedly confounded Cardiff supporters

Vincent Tan has repeatedly confounded Cardiff supporters

As you’ve probably read by now, Bond villain Vincent Tan is set to out-crazy himself once more as he flies into London to sack Malky Makay.

It’s a devastating turn of events for Cardiff fans. Malky Mackay has been the only sane, rational voice coming from the club, and it seems that his time is running out.

Cardiff City chairman Mehmet Dalman has convinced Tan to hold fire (terribly sorry for that pun), and is apparently seeking to persuade the Malaysian to keep Mackay in charge. Cardiff fans, however, aren’t holding their breath. It seems that the young Scot’s days are numbered.

Liverpool v Cardiff Betting Odds:

Liverpool win – 1.19

Draw – 7.00

Cardiff win 15.00

(All odds provided by GEObet.com are accurate as of today and subject to change)

Malky’s record so far

Malky Mackay took over a depleted Cardiff City side in the summer of 2011. With just 10 senior players at his disposal, he quickly moved to swell the ranks, bringing in a number of players on a limited budget.

The following season was an important – though admittedly uninspiring – period of consolidation, with Cardiff ending the season in the playoffs.

The 2012/13 season, however, saw Cardiff take the Championship with ease. Cardiff reached the summit in November and, though there were stutters along the way, held onto the top spot for the remainder of the season.

The Welsh club then went on to break their record transfer fee three times over the summer, bringing in striker Andreas Cornelius, defender Steven Caulker and midfielder Gary Medel. This appears to be an issue for Tan as he claims that, with add-ons, they went over budget. Other sources at the club however suggest that Tan was more than happy with the add-ons at the time.

It’s hard to argue that this season has been anything other than a success so far. Cardiff currently sit in 15th, with a 4 point cushion from the bottom three, and only 3 points off the top ten. They haven’t played great football, however no sane man would demand tiki-taka football from a newly promoted team. Enter stage right: Vincent Tan.

The loveable* Vincent Tan

Vincent Tan’s reign has been far more controversial. He took over in 2011, and was initially hailed as a saviour of the club. His popularity plummeted however when he hinted that he might change the club’s kit to red. An uproar followed, forcing Tan to backtrack on the kit change.

He reversed his backtrack several months later (fronttracking?), changing the club’s kit to red. He also got someone to knock together a new logo on MS Paint, copying and pasting the dragon from the Welsh flag in the process.

Tan then went on to sack head of recruitment Iain Moody in a move we now know was due to a supposed overspend.

This may sound like a fair enough reason, until you realise he was replaced with 23 year old – and friend of family – Alisher Apsalyamov, a man whose only experience in football was a short work stint at Cardiff City painting the fences. Yup, this guy.

Don’t worry though, he’s no longer in charge due to a Home Office investigation.

Throughout Mackay’s rein, Tan has also looked to influence tactics, selection and even substitutions. He’s signed at least one player without Mackay’s knowledge and once told the manager that his team should shoot more often. ‘If you ask 10 girls to go out with you,’ he proudly claimed, ‘no matter how ugly you are, I bet that one will say “Yes”

‘I believe the increase in goal attempts is in line with the law of averages. So, if we had 20 goal attempts, at least two will go in!’

And that, ladies and gentleman, is the man calling the shots at our club. Oh, for the days of Hammam and Ridsdale.

*Wait, that’s the wrong word. Let’s go with ‘confusing’, just to be on the safe side

AntonyPAUL STOLLERY (paulstollery) is a Cardiff City fan and Ron Swanson enthusiast. He writes about football and rugby for Betting Instinct