Autumn internationals: Wales v Tonga team news, quotes and key stats


Autumn internationals: Wales v Tonga
Venue: Principality Stadium Date: Saturday, 17 November Kick-off: 14:30 GMT
Coverage: Watch live on BBC One, S4C the BBC Sport website and app from 14:00 GMT; listen on BBC Radio Wales and Radio Cymru; text commentary on BBC Sport website.

Team news and line-ups

Wales coach Warren Gatland has made 14 changes to the side that beat Australia last weekend, with only lock Adam Beard keeping his place.

Jonah Holmes makes his debut at full-back, while Dan Biggar is at fly-half and Liam Williams is on the wing.

Versatile forward Seb Davies was not part of the original squad but starts at No.8 alongside Ellis Jenkins, who captains the side.

Prop Wyn Jones makes his first start after nine caps off the bench.

Ospreys prop Ma’afu Fia is the only uncapped player in the Tonga starting side.

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The 27-year-old retains his place after featuring in the 49-38 Tongan win over French Barbarians in Bordeaux.

Castres lock Sitiveni Mafi replaces uncapped Sam ‘Ulufonua in the only starting change from that game in France.

The Tongan side, led by Bristol centre Siale Piutau, includes players based in France, England, Wales and New Zealand, though they lost key backs David Halifonua and Cooper Vuna just before the trip.

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.

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Commentator’s notes

Eddie Butler: There’s part two of an agreement to honour here, following a pact with the rugby spirits of the Blorenge Mountain. Wales to beat Australia in exchange for defeat to Tonga. A deal is a deal, isn’t it?

“To be honest, it wouldn’t do Wales any harm to lose a riot of a game by 45 points to 44.

“It would ease the pressure that’s mounting with this sequence, seven-long, of victories. Keep the fever down.

“So, here’s to Tonga. It shouldn’t happen and probably won’t. Wales a bit scrappily by 15 points, logic says. But a deal’s a deal.”

View from both camps

Wales head coach Warren Gatland: “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: “It’s not the strongest Welsh team, 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.”

Match facts

Head-to-head

  • Wales have won all eight meetings with Tonga, including 24-6 in Auckland last year.
  • The Welsh have only failed to score a try in one Test against the Tongans – an 18-9 victory in 1994.
  • Tonga have scored just 26 points in their three Tests on Welsh soil.

Wales

  • 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.
  • Warren Gatland’s side have won 17 and lost four of their past 21 home fixtures.

Tonga

  • Tonga have won two of their three Tests in 2018, all played in June. After losing to Georgia, they beat Samoa and then registered their first victory away to Fiji since 2011.
  • The Tongans then beat the French Barbarians 49-38 last weekend, scoring seven tries in the process.
  • They 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.

Match officials

Referee: Nic Berry (Australia)

Touch judges: Angus Gardner (Australia) & Shuhei Kubo (Japan)

TMO: Olly Hodges (Ireland)

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