2:49pm Tuesday 22nd April 2014
By Chris Kirwan
THE ODDS would be short on Tyler Morgan's first appearance at the Millennium Stadium being his last.
The 18-year-old made his RaboDirect Pro12 debut for Newport Gwent Dragons in the 20-10 loss to the Ospreys at the Judgement Day double-header.
The former Caerleon Comprehensive pupil, who made a pair of appearances in the LV= Cup last autumn, was meant to be among the replacements only for Pat Leach's late withdrawal with a virus to lead to a promotion.
He slotted in alongside fellow teenager Jack Dixon to lock horns with Wales internationals Ashley Beck and Jonathan Spratt and the young pair did admirably.
Not only did Morgan stand firm in defence but he played a key role in scrum-half Richie Rees' try, bursting down the right before offloading under pressure from two tacklers.
His exploits won't have come as a surprise to those that have watched him shine while coming through the ranks with the academy or those that have seen him excel for Newport in the Premiership.
Morgan played on the wing for Wales Under-20s during the Six Nations and is set to be a member of the squad that heads to New Zealand for the Junior World Championship this summer.
He has long been talked of as Test player in the making, tipped to impress in the red of Wales at the Millennium Stadium but Morgan will never forget turning out at the famous venue in his regional colours.
"It was a great place to make my league debut," he said. "When I was running out through the tunnel I was expecting a big crowd but when I came out I thought 'Jesus!' and froze for a second before focusing.
"It was a great atmosphere and the best I had ever played in. I had been training all week and knew I was going to be in the squad but thought I was going to be on the bench.
"But we found out the day before Pat Leach was not very well and it was 50/50 whether he would be ok. Unfortunately he was unwell but I was lucky to have the opportunity to start."
Morgan has frequently shown this season that he is a threat will ball in hand, running in four times in nine appearances for the Black and Ambers while he crossed the whitewash twice for Wales Under-18s in a pair of games against Australia Schools.
But his first Pro12 outing presented the opportunity to quash any fears about his defence; the Dragons made 153 tackles to the Ospreys' 74.
"We were under the cosh in the first half, we just defended and defended," said Morgan.
"Compared to the Treviso game (when thumped 45-27) our defence was outstanding, we were making tackles and stopping them from getting over the gain-line."
Morgan is likely to add to his Pro12 appearances against the Scarlets and Treviso as the Dragons are without centres Ashley Smith and Ross Wardle because of foot and knee injuries respectively.
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