Rugby

Wales warm up for Bok clash by thrashing Tonga

2018-11-17 18:38
Dan Biggar
Dan Biggar (Getty)

Cardiff - Dan Biggar guided Wales to their eighth consecutive victory as a much-changed side scored 10 tries in a comprehensive 74-24 thrashing of Tonga on Saturday.

Tonga battered their way back from a 24-3 deficit to draw level early in the second half at Cardiff's Principality Stadium.

But the floodgates opened as the Welsh, with a host of World Cup hopefuls playing, ran in 50 unanswered points against a flagging defence, Biggar notching up 17 points of his own.

Biggar was back at flyhalf after Gareth Anscombe was preferred in last week's 9-6 win over Australia, coach Warren Gatland looking like he has built up some significant strength in depth in key positions ahead of next year's Rugby World Cup in Japan.

Wales captain Ellis Jenkins said sights had turned immediately on South Africa, who travel to Cardiff next week.

"We want to win every game, so hopefully we can go on and complete the clean sweep now," Jenkins told the BBC, the Welsh having opened their autumn series with a 21-10 victory over Scotland.

Wales got off to a rocketing start with three tries inside the opening 12 minutes. First came a penalty try as a rolling maul was taken down as it crashed over the Tongan line, lock Leva Fifita shown a yellow card by Australian referee Nic Berry for his role.

Wales turned the screw with Tonga down a man, Biggar on hand to crash over from close range following a neat offload by flanker Aaron Wainwright.

Sonatane Takulua at least got Tonga on the scoreboard with a penalty, but then came Wales' third, a memorable one for British and Irish Lion Liam Williams in his 50th Test for his nation.

The Saracens wing brilliantly dotted down one-handed in the corner, launching his body airborne to avoid being tackled into touch, after fellow winger Steff Evans had combined slickly with Tomos Williams and Wainwright.

Tonga centre Siale Piutau then saw his try disallowed by referee Berry, whose attention had been drawn to a dubious knock-on, Biggar going on to stretch the home side's lead with a penalty.

Giant lock Fifita made up for his yellow card when he forced his way over the line to give some hope back to the Tongans, who arrived in Cardiff on a run of seven victories in their last 11 Tests, including wins over Pacific rivals Fiji and Samoa.

Tonga hauled themselves right back into the contest when they showed their patience to go through the phases and finally usher Castres lock Steve Mafi over the line for a well-worked second try, Takulua hitting his second conversion.

The Pacific islanders got the perfect start to the second period when No 8 Sione Vailanu picked off a Tomos Williams pass at the line-out and sprinted his considerable frame in from 40 metres.

"It was a tussle at the start of the second half, they threw everything at us," acknowledged Jenkins.

"It was tough for us, but we made it tougher for them."

Takulua's extras drew Tonga level at 24-all, but there was an immediate reaction, Jake Ball breaking the defence before Biggar put in a kick-pass to Evans for a straightforward try.

Biggar added to his successful conversion with a 55th-minute penalty as a raft of replacements disrupted the rhythm of the match, notably for the visitors.

Wales then pulled away as Tomos Williams went over after a sustained period of pressure and Biggar nailed the conversion before being replaced by Rhys Patchell.

Centre Tyler Morgan followed suit, thanks to Patchell's long mispass and Owen Watkin's offload.

As Tonga tired in defence, Cory Hill and Aled Davies were on hand to finish off multi-player moves before Patchell scythed through for a great individual try, the replacement also racking up 17 points in his cameo.

The last word belonged to Liam Williams, who crossed for his second in the dying seconds, with Tonga on the ropes.

Read more on:    tonga  |  wales  |  dan biggar  |  rugby

 

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