Wales scored seven second-half tries to beat a determined Tonga 74-24 in Cardiff on Saturday. DYLAN JACK reports.
The hosts, fielding a second-string team, got off to a flying start as they scored two tries in the opening five minutes to go 14-0 ahead.
The visitors fought back well and levelled the scores at 24-24 in the second half, but a change in tactics saw Wales run away with the game as Tonga started to fall off tackles.
Wales opened the scoring when they won a penalty try from a maul that started on Tonga’s 22m line, with Tonga lock Leva Fifita yellow-carded as a result.
Then Wales flyhalf Dan Biggar, who controlled the game well with the boot, went over for the second by running onto an offload from flank Aaron Wainwright.
Tonga hit back through a penalty from scrumhalf Sonatane Takulua, but the Welsh extended their lead when Liam Williams showed excellent composure to dive in and get the ball down in the corner.
The visitors started to win the collisions towards the back-end of the half as Wales only added a penalty to their lead.
The Tongans finally got a try when Fifita atoned for his card by showing a good leg drive to get over the line and grounding the ball against the post. Fifita’s lock partner Sitiveni Mafi also muscled over as Tonga started to claw their way back into the match, making it 24-17 at half-time.
Tonga No 8 Sione Vailanu intercepted a pass from Wales scrumhalf Tomos Williams and showed an incredible amount of pace to run over 50m and score near the posts to level the scores.
However, Wales hit straight back when lock Jake Ball made a linebreak to bring them close to the line. Biggar then dinked the ball over the defence, with Steff Evans regathering the ball and going over the line.
Biggar kicked his second penalty, before Tomos Williams reached over and Tyler Morgan scored to once again put the hosts in the driving seat. A fortuitous bounce from a box kick was regathered by Wales, which then saw substitute Cory Hill race away to bring up the half century.
A try from replacement scrumhalf Aled Davies, who finished off a brilliant team move, as well as a solo effort from Rhys Patchell and a second from Liam Williams, sealed the victory for Wales.
Wales – Tries: Penalty try, Dan Biggar, Liam Williams (2), Steff Evans, Tomos Williams, Tyler Morgan, Cory Hill, Aled Davis, Rhys Patchell. Conversions: Biggar (4), Patchell (4). Penalties: Biggar (2).
Tonga – Tries: Leva Fifita, Sitiveni Mafi, Sione Vailanu. Conversions: Sonatane Takulua (3). Penalty: Takulua.
Wales – 15 Jonah Holmes, 14 Liam Williams, 13 Tyler Morgan, 12 Owen Watkin, 11 Steff Evans; 10 Dan Biggar, 9 Tomos Williams, 8 Seb Davies, 7 Ellis Jenkins (c), 6 Aaron Wainwright, 5 Adam Beard, 4 Jake Ball, 3 Leon Brown, 2 Elliot Dee, 1 Wyn Jones.
Subs: 16 Ryan Elias, 17 Rob Evans, 18 Tomas Francis, 19 Cory Hill, 20 Ross Moriarty, 21 Aled Davies, 22 Rhys Patchell, 23 Josh Adams.
Tonga – 15 Vunga Lilo, 14 Viliami Lolohea, 13 Alaska Taufa, 12 Siale Piutau (c), 11 Daniel Kilioni, 10 Kurt Morath, 9 Sonatane Takulua, 8 Sione Vailanu, 7 Fotu Lokotui, 6 Dan Faleafa, 5 Sitiveni Mafi, 4 Leva Fifita, 3 Ma’afu Fia, 2 Paula Ngauamo, 1 Siegfried Fisi’ihoi.
Subs: 16 Sefo Sakalia, 17 Latu Talakai, 18 Paea Fa’anunu, 19 Onehunga Havili, 20 Mike Faleafa, 21 Leon Fukofuka, 22 Kali Hala, 23 Atieli Pakalani.
Photo: Michael Steele/Getty Images