Morgan hat-trick as Reivers wrecked

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The Independent Online

There are some big names in the Cardiff line-up these days, but apart from Neil Jenkins, who claimed a massively impressive 31 points, it was the less revered contingent that stole the show. Top of the pops were the Canadian flanker Dan Baugh, who early on was Cardiff's sole ball-carrier in attack, a lethal weapon in the tackle, and ever-present in broken play, and the flying winger Craig Morgan, who notched a scintillating hat-trick of tries.

There are some big names in the Cardiff line-up these days, but apart from Neil Jenkins, who claimed a massively impressive 31 points, it was the less revered contingent that stole the show. Top of the pops were the Canadian flanker Dan Baugh, who early on was Cardiff's sole ball-carrier in attack, a lethal weapon in the tackle, and ever-present in broken play, and the flying winger Craig Morgan, who notched a scintillating hat-trick of tries.

Cardiff announced their challenge for European and domestic honours this season with a slick, professional display that bemused a very sterile Edinburgh outfit, scoring 10 tries in the process. The full-back Paul Jones, centre Jamie Robinson and particularly Morgan revelled in the open spaces, much of those provided by the ex-Springbok Pieter Muller in midfield.

The Scottish domestic scene has suffered more than most since the ill-prepared onset of professionalism. In effectthere is no high-level club scene, with the world-famous names of Gala, Hawick and Melrose coldly and clinically discarded.

The negative effect was an initial exodus of leading players to greener pastures in England and France, but the wheel has started to turn, and some are now returning, lured by attractive contracts after perhaps finding the lusher grass somewhat harder to cut.

The Reivers enjoyed a less- than-mediocre success rate last season. During the close season they have recruited Richard Metcalfe and Don McKinnon from Northampton and Craig Joiner from the Leicester Tigers, and are keen to compete seriously with their Welsh counterparts.

Edinburgh's resounding victory against Ebbw Vale last weekend coupled with Cardiff's jittery outing against Neath suggested an evenly contested match yesterday, but although it was so for the opening quarter, Cardiff then annihilated the Reivers with a compelling display of all-out attack.

The visitors benefited from their lengthy on-field warm-up, and Duncan Hodge kicked a first-minute penalty to give them an early lead. They disrupted Cardiff early on at the line-out, which frustrated the home side, although almost inevitably Jenkins was soon on the score sheet with an equalising penalty after five minutes.

Not so inevitable, nor as expected, was Cardiff's first try- scorer. The skipper, David Young, playing his 100th game for the club, was on hand to score at the posts following some elusive running from Morgan. Jenkins converted.

Unfortunately for Young, his refreshing start to the new season was soon curtailed as he was assisted from the field hobbling badly with what looked like a recurrence of a persistent calf problem.

Jenkins coolly dropped a goal for Cardiff when there was nothing on, and Hodge slotted his second penalty before Robert Howley charged down Iain Fairley's defensive kick, securing the platform for the ever-present Owain Williams to pick up and score in the corner. Jenkins converted superbly. Hodge's third penalty and another from Jenkins completed the first- half scoring at 23-9 to Cardiff.

The Reivers, obviously well coached and organised, with strength at the line-out in particular, still lacked any cutting edge, and relied far too much on creating pretty patterns.

However, it was Cardiff who produced all the pretty patterns after the interval as they ran amok with tries for Jenkins, Robinson (two) and the superb hat-trick for Morgan. Martin Leslie claimed a consolation try for the visitors with replacement Chris Paterson converting.

Cardiff: P Jones (G Thomas, 47); N Walne, J Robinson, P Muller, C Morgan; N Jenkins (M Rayer, 72), R Howley (R Powell, 60); G Powell, A Lewis, D Young (capt; J Humphreys, 2), S Moore, M Voyle, D Baugh (G Kacala, 56), M Williams, O Williams.

Edinburgh Reivers: D Lee; C Murray, D Officer, M Dirollo (C Paterson, 40), C Joiner; D Hodge (G Burns, 52), I Fairley; C Smith, S Scott, B Stewart, R Metcalfe (N Hines, 52), I Fullarton, M Leslie, G Dall (capt), S Taylor.

Referee: H Watkins (Swansea).

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