All you need to know about Wales' upcoming matchup with Tonga this weekend.
Autumn Internationals Wales v Tonga Preview
Both Wales and Tonga are coming off wins last weekend although admittedly both of them came in vastly different ways. Wales managed to sneak a narrow 9-6 victory over Australia in a tight and nervous affair whereas Tonga secured a 49-38 win over the French Barbarians in a 13-try thriller.
Additionally, both sides are on winning streaks of sorts with Wales on a seven-match winning run and Tonga have won seven of their last 11. On paper then, this looks to be a tight and physical contest.
However Wales have gone up against Tonga on eight occasions and never lost, the most recent of which was in Auckland last year; a 24-6 victory. Tonga have also only scored 26 points in their three Tests on Welsh soil so the odds are stacked against the island nation.
What’s the big team news?
Warren Gatland has made 14 changes to the Welsh side that beat Australia.
Lions Dan Biggar and Liam Williams, who is set to gain his 50th cap, come in, as does Steff Evans on the other wing.
Jonah Holmes makes his debut at full-back and Seb Davies will earn his second cap playing at number eight. Adam Beard is the only Welshman to keep his spot from last weekend.
Tonga on the other hand have only made one starting line-up change from their victory last weekend. Castres lock Sitiveni Mafi replaces Sam ‘Ulufonua in the second row.
What have the coaches said?
Wales head-coach Warren Gatland said; “We are looking forward to the challenge of Tonga. They had a great win last weekend against the French Barbarians and we know it is going to be a tough, physical challenge.
“We have spoken about creating depth, and for us that is all about creating a squad that is full of first-teamers, everyone in the squad capable of starting.
“The boys this weekend have to put their hand up for the final match and put pressure on the players who started last weekend.”
Tonga head-coach Toutai Kefu said; “We were happy with the result (in Bordeaux), but there are a few areas to improve on, and we’re heading in the right direction.
“It’s not the strongest Welsh team (against us), but they’re still the Welsh team whoever wears the jersey, they’re still Wales to me.
“They’ve a strong set-piece, they’ve a good kicking game, and they play territory really well. They don’t give you much, so we’re going to play territory ourselves. We need a strong set-piece, and we need to limit our turnovers.”
Any interesting statistics?
- Wales have won all eight meetings with Tonga, including 24-6 in Auckland last year.
- Wales could win seven home games in a row for the first time since a run of nine between 1997-99.
- They are currently on a seven-match winning streak, their best since June 2004-05 when they won eight in a row.
- Tonga have won seven of their last 11 Tests.
- However, they have not faced a tier one side since losing to Wales in Auckland in 2017.
What time does it kick off and is it on TV?
Wales vs Tonga, Saturday 17 November, Principality Stadium, Cardiff.
The match will kickoff at 2.30pm and will be televised on the BBC, S4C and the BBC Sport website.
Nic Berry will be the referee in control with Angus Gardner and Shuhei Kubo providing assistance as touch judges.
The TMO is Irishman Olly Hodges.
What are the line-ups?
WALES: Jonah Holmes; Liam Williams, Tyler Morgan, Owen Watkin, Steff Evans; Dan Biggar, Tomos Williams; Wyn Jones, Elliot Dee, Leon Brown, Jake Ball, Adam Beard, Aaron Wainwright, Ellis Jenkins (capt), Seb Davies.
Replacements: Ryan Elias, Rob Evans, Tomas Francis, Cory Hill, Ross Moriarty, Aled Davies, Rhys Patchell, Josh Adams.
TONGA: Vunga Lilo; Viliami Lolohea, Alaska Taufa, Siale Piutau (capt), Daniel Kilioni; Kurt Morath, Sonatane Takulua: Siegfried Fisi’ihoi, Paula Ngauamo, Ma’afu Fia, Leva Fifita, Sitiveni Mafi, Dan Faleafa, Fotu Lokotui, Sione Vailanu.
Replacements: Sefo Sakalia, Latu Talakai, Paea Fa’anunu, Onehunga Havili, Mike Faleafa, Leon Fukofuka, Kali Hala, Atieli Pakalani.
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