Jac Morgan Rolls Back The Years But Looks The Captain To Take Wales Into The Future

Sometimes a rugby player produces one moment that echoes not just around a stadium, but back through the years gone by.

There was one at the Principality Stadium on Saturday night as Wales beat England 20-9 in the first of their World Cup warm-up matches.

Most rugby fans over the age of 30 can recall the Gavin Henson tackle on Matthew Tait back in 2005 during the Six Nations game against England.

Eighteen years on and new Wales captain Jac Morgan did something similar on opposite number Tom Pearson – lifting the man in white off the ground and dumping him backwards.

Morgan also showed composure and instinctive flair with ball in hand to set up the try for Gareth Davies that changed the course of the match.

George North scored the second try and there might well have been a third for Louis Rees-Zammit if the TMO had come to a different conclusion over a very tight call.

“Full credit to the boys it was a great game,” said Morgan.

“It was good after the training weeks to get that result and performance. The camps have been tough, but we worked hard and we’re pleased to get the results.

“We went in at half-time knowing we had more in the second half, we dug and came out firing.”

Leigh Halfpenny kicked 10 points on the day he earned his 100th cap in a team display that provided huge encouragement to Wales fans just a month out from the start of the World Cup in France.

The 34-year-old full back showed Warren Gatland he is ready for a third tournament if required.

“It was a pretty special day for myself and my family. Winning one cap for Wales was a dream come true but this is surreal and hasn’t really sunk in yet,” admitted Halfpenny

“I’ve got to give huge thanks to Warren Gatland for giving me my first cap and awarding me my 100th. I’d obviously love to carry on playing and the ambition is to keep going.

“I’d love to go to the World Cup in France but there is so much competition in the squad and in the back three. There is a lot of quality and I’m sure whoever is picked will do an outstanding job.”

Gatland is going to go for a 19-14 split between forwards and backs for France and that could mean Halfpenny misses out. With three scrum halves and three outside halves penciled in that leaves eight spaces for centres, wings and full back.

Rees-Zammit, who was denied what would have been a wonder try by referee Nic Berry on review after skinning Fredie Steward, is nailed on for a wing berth with Josh Adams, while George North is the leading centre and Liam Williams the top pick at full back.

That leaves the likes of Rio Dyer, Max Llewelyn, Mason Grady, Nick Tompkins and Halfpenny battling it out for the final four places.

Gatland is set to make wholesale changes for the return game against Steve Borthwick’s top England team at Twickenham this weekend, but was more than happy with what he saw from his players in their first outing since the Six Nations.

“We were fitter,” he said as he left the stadium. “I felt some of the English forwards were blowing a bit just before half-time.

“I was a little bit apprehensive in the morning because I wasn’t quite sure how things were going to go. I knew the players had been working hard and so I was looking for a performance.

“It was a good start, and we’ll take a lot of confidence moving forward from this game. There will probably be a lot of changes for Twickenham and if we had to pick our best XV tomorrow there are only about three names nailed on.”