|Autumn international: Wales v Tonga|
|Wales (24) 74|
|Tries: Penalty try, Biggar, L Williams 2, S Evans, T Williams, Morgan, Hill, A Davies, Patchell Cons: Biggar 4, Patchell 4 Pens: Biggar 2|
|Tonga (17) 24|
|Tries: Fifita, Mafi, Vailanu Cons: Takulua 3 Pen: Takulua|
Much-changed Wales scored 10 tries in Cardiff as they beat Tonga with a record score and winning margin.
Warren Gatland’s side are now one win away from a first autumn clean sweep and face South Africa next Saturday.
Wales took charge with three quick tries, but Tonga briefly threatened a shock victory as they rallied to level at 24-24 just after half-time.
But Wales responded with 50 unanswered points, including Liam Williams’ second try of the game on his 50th cap.
The hosts, showing 14 changes from the side that beat Australia last weekend, made a storming start with three tries inside 12 minutes as they built up a 24-3 lead.
But Tonga rallied as they battered Wales into submission to draw level just after the interval.
Wales regained their composure to produce a clinical second-half display – seven unanswered tries completing a record points tally against Tonga.
It was further evidence of the growing Wales strength in depth before the 2019 World Cup in Japan.
With this win adding to victories over Scotland and the Wallabies, Wales will be looking to finish off November with victory over the Springboks.
They have won eight games in a row for the first time since 2005 and this is the longest winning sequence of Gatland’s reign. It was also a seventh successive win at home, and they have 18 victories in their past 22 matches in Wales.
Tier two struggles
Wales’ recent autumn struggles against Tier Two nations had included defeats by Samoa, a draw against Fiji and unconvincing wins over Georgia and Japan.
Those results have normally arisen from sweeping changes and this year’s policy was no exception, with only lock Adam Beard keeping his place from last weekend’s win.
Leicester’s Jonah Holmes made his debut at full-back, Dan Biggar was included at fly-half and versatile forward Seb Davies started at number eight alongside flanker Ellis Jenkins, who captained the side – though it was wing Williams who led the side out on his 50th cap.
Ospreys prop Ma’afu Fia was the only uncapped player in the Tonga starting XV, which included players based in France, England, and New Zealand.
Wales made a fast start from a 22-metre driving line-out, with Australian referee Nic Berry awarding a penalty try and giving a yellow card to lock Leva Fifita.
A shocked Tonga conceded a converted Biggar try in the sixth minute before consolidating with a Sonatane Takulua penalty.
This only delayed the Wales onslaught and Liam Williams produced a brilliant finish, squeezing in at the corner after a flowing move.
Tonga were restored to 15 men and thought they had responded with a try from prop Siegfried Fisi’ihoi, only to be denied by TMO Olly Hodges for a knock forward.
Biggar slotted over a penalty after Tonga flanker Dan Faleafa was penalised for a heavy off-the-ball tackle on opposite number Aaron Wainwright.
Tonga number eight Sione Vailanu led the charge with two storming carries, the latter leading to a Fifita try, which Takulua converted.
Tonga’s power game continued to pay dividends just before half-time as they battered Wales into submission, with Sitiveni Mafi over for a second converted try that cut the hosts’ lead to 24-17 at the interval.
The renaissance continued early in the second half when Vailanu intercepted a Tomos Williams pass from a Wales line-out to sprint 60 metres to score, and Takulua converted to level the scores.
Wales rallied immediately with a barnstorming break from second-row Jake Ball, which laid the foundation for Biggar’s precise chip-kick to be collected by wing Steff Evans.
Wales’ resurgence continued with a Biggar penalty before his half-back partner Tomos Williams went over.
Biggar converted with his last action before being replaced by Rhys Patchell who was playing his first game for six weeks after recovering from concussion.
A sixth try followed for centre Tyler Morgan, who completed his return to international rugby after being diagnosed with type one diabetes earlier this year, while his Dragons team-mate Cory Hill provided the seventh score.
Wales’ dominance continued with a wonderful team move finished by replacement scrum-half Aled Davies, before Patchell’s brilliant 70-metre individual try provided another magical moment – and it was fitting that Liam Williams rounded off the scoring.
Wales: 15-Holmes; 14-Williams, 13-Tyler Morgan, 12-Watkin, 11-Steff Evans; 10-Biggar, 9-Williams; 1-Jones, 2-Dee, 3-Brown, 4-Ball, 5-Beard, 6-Wainwright, 7-Jenkins (captain), 8-Seb Davies
Replacements: 16-Elias, 17-Rob Evans, 18-Francis, 19-Hill, 20-Moriarty, 21-Aled Davies, 22-Patchell, 23-Adams.
Tonga: 15-Lilo; 14-Lolohea, 13-Taufa, 12-Piutau (capt), 11-Kilioni; 10-Morath, 9-Takulua; 1-Fisi’ihoi, 2-Ngauamo, 3-Fia, 4-Fifita, 5-Mafi, 6-Dan Faleafa, 7-Lokotui, 8-Vailanu.
Replacements: 16-Sakalia, 17-Talakai, 18-Fa’anunu, 19-Havili, 20-Mike Faleafa, 21-Fukofuka, 22-Hala, 23-Pakalani.
Referee: Nic Berry (Australia)
Touch judges: Angus Gardner (Australia) & Shuhei Kubo (Japan)
TMO: Olly Hodges (Ireland)
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