ALEX BYWATER: It's a dream night for Wales heroes Morgan and Anscombe
ALEX BYWATER: It’s a dream night for heroes Jac Morgan and Gareth Anscombe as Wales earn their record win over Australia in Lyon to qualify for the knockout stages
- Jac Morgan was outstanding in Wales’ record 40-6 demolition of Australia
- Four years ago, Morgan was a part-time player and also an apprentice engineer
- Gareth Anscombe got 23 points from the tee four years after a horror knee injury
- Latest Rugby World Cup 2023 news, including fixtures, live scores and results
In 2019 – when Wales reached the semi-finals of the last World Cup in Japan – Jac Morgan was only playing rugby part time while working as an apprentice engineer.
If any employees of Morgan Advanced Materials on the outskirts of Swansea were watching on Sunday night, they would have surely been more than proud of their former colleague.
Morgan capped his remarkable rise from semi-professional flanker to Wales captain with a stand-out World Cup display as he guided his team into the quarter-finals in France.
This was a record Welsh win over Australia, who were abject.
The 23-year-old Morgan has risen quickly through the ranks, earning comparisons with the great Sam Warburton for his quiet, lead-by-example captaincy.
Jac Morgan was only playing rugby part time in 2019 while working as an apprentice engineer
He was outstanding as Wales racked up a record 40-6 win over an abject Australia in Lyon
Morgan let his ability do the talking on Sunday. He was outstanding.
Just three minutes were on the clock when he made a blistering run forward from a lovely Nick Tompkins pass. It was the sort of break you don’t often see from Morgan, showing his development.
When it would have been easy to panic, Morgan kept his cool in space and sent Gareth Davies to the line for a perfect Welsh start. Dan Biggar converted before limping off.
On came Gareth Anscombe, who had no right to be at the OL Stadium on Sunday night.
By the laws of science, everything suggested that the Wales fly-half was never going to come back from the horror knee injury he suffered in 2019.
Anscombe’s lowest day at Twickenham in August of that year saw him spend more than two years on the sidelines and endure three separate operations, the last of which involved him having his leg deliberately broken, realigned, and a bone graft from a deceased doner inserted.
That he ended this game in Lyon with a remarkable 23-point haul from the tee in a famous Welsh win was just reward for his remarkable dedication and refusal to quit.
Gareth Anscombe ended with a 23-point haul from the tee four years after a horror knee injury
In front of Anscombe, Morgan was standing up to be counted. He was part of a Welsh pack that had joy with the line-out drive. Their captain’s physicality was crucial to that.
Morgan can do it all. He can even kick. In a crucial first-half moment, Australian No 10 Ben Donaldson turned down the chance of three points to opt for the corner and a try.
The Wallaby line-out promptly went all wrong. Morgan picked up and booted the ball down field, executing a 50:22 kick which gave Wales a set-piece at the other end of the field.
At 2pm on Sunday, Lyon’s Place Antonin Poncet was packed full of Welsh supporters and under the searing heat of the French sun, they went through their whole singing repertoire.
Morgan’s kick sent his team’s fans inside the OL Stadium wild with delight.
Morgan, a former Wales Under-20 captain, isn’t one to speak to much either to his team-mates or in press conferences. He is more comfortable talking in Welsh than English to the media.
But, frankly, that matters little to Wales head coach Warren Gatland. And no wonder.
Gatland’s side excelled to a man and they are now in the last eight with one Pool C game with Georgia still to play. It is a fine position for them to be in.
Warren Gatland’s side excelled to a man, and are in the last eight with one Pool C game left
Victory was sealed by Anscombe chipping ahead for Nick Tompkins to score. The replacement fly-half’s celebration at his assist told you everything about his remarkable journey to this point.
You couldn’t help but be pleased for him as he put the boot into Eddie Jones’ woeful Australia and sent Wales’ brilliant supporters into delirium.
With his confidence through the roof, Anscombe’s late drop goal rubbed salt in Australian wounds and it was fitting Morgan claimed the final try from a forward surge.
What a night it was for the pair of them. And what a night for Wales.
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