Morgan magical in the Swansea rush hour

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The Independent Online

There was no greater storm in the British Isles yesterday than the hurricane which was Swansea, as they blew away their hapless opponents L'Aquila in a second half that was as clinical as the first was slack.

There was no greater storm in the British Isles yesterday than the hurricane which was Swansea, as they blew away their hapless opponents L'Aquila in a second half that was as clinical as the first was slack.

The 12-try rout, which surpassed their haul against the same opponents last weekend, included a hat-trick of tries for full-back Kevin Morgan, and two each for Mark Taylor, Matthew Robinson and Gavin Henson.

Henson had begun the game on the wing, but finished it in style at outside half, where he proved a more adept kicker than Cerith Rees. He thumped over four out of four conversions, while Rees managed just one in eight attempts.

The Italian side struggled at the line-out, were shunted off their own ball at the odd scrum and there appeared to be little on offer in the backs.

There was a gentle irony in the fact that on the day the Rugby League World Cup got under way at Twickenham, 13 men of L'Aquila trotted off at half time to join two of their colleagues who had earlier been consigned to the sin-bin.

Centre Francesco Napoli received a yellow card for killing the ball, while captain Maurizio Zaffiri departed in the last minute of the half for failing to retreat when a penalty was awarded.

While the temporary dismissals were unfortunate, even harsh, L'Aquila were hopelessly outclassed, for all that there was still a streak of carelessness running through the home side.

The impressionSwansea were not taking things seriously was heightened by their choice of music. When L'Aquila centre Jamie Connolly landed his side's solitary penalty the sparse crowd shivering on the rain-lashed terraces were treated to a burst of Dean Martin's "Volare", and when Zaffiri was sin-binned there was a blast of Joe Dolce's "Shaddup you face".

From the earliest moments the Swansea pack, with Paul Moriarty in inspiring, if at times rudely rugged mode, dominated in every phase. A couple of brutal confrontations soon persuaded the Italians that prudence at the breakdown was the better part of valour. There was no surprise when it was later announced that Moriarty had been cited for a first-half punch.

Out wide, Swansea had the pace and flair but it was not until the second half that they did the business. Until then, there were moments of skill and speed, as full-back Morgan scored his first two tries.

Right wing Gavin Henson managed a touchdown on his debut in Europe. If fly-half Cerith Rees had been able to master the wicked, gusting wind then there might have been even more points before the interval, as it was he missed three of the four conversions.

But once they had the wind at their backs Swansea steamed into their luckless opponents. Suddenly a sense of purposeful urgency was evident.

Henson's second try signalled a great spell when Swansea scored four tries in eight minutes.

Rees claimed one, Morgan, Taylor the others. There was a brief pause, then the hard-working Robinson joined in the fun and Taylor and Moriarty added further touchdowns a little later. The only stain on Swansea's day was the loss of their Wales centre Scott Gibbs after 20 minutes with a hamstring strain, but like the resistance Swansea met, it was only slight.

Swansea: K Morgan; G Henson, S Winn, S Gibbs (capt; M Taylor, 22), M Robinson; C Rees (R Rees, 56), R Jones (S Martens, 66); C Anthony (D Morris, 60), C Wells, B Evans, T Maullin (L Jones, 56), J Griffiths, P Moriarty, H Jenkins (G Lewis, 56), D Thomas.

L'Aquila: T Handley; P Rotilio (E Clementi, 78), F Napoli, J Connolly, G Rossi; A Masi (F Hostie, 32), G Grasso; J van der Esch, M Alfonsetti (A Comperti, 60), P Boshoff, M Privitera, A Farley, E Vaggi (F Galgani, 60), F Angeloni, M Zaffiri (capt).

Referee: J-C Gastou (France).

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