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Saturday, 17 November, 2001, 15:57 GMT
Welcome win for Wales
Gareth Thomas scores the first Welsh try against Tonga
Gareth Thomas scores the first Welsh try against Tonga
Wales 51-7 Tonga

Wales received a welcome boost to their flagging spirits with a deserved win over Tonga at the Millennium Stadium.

After two successive defeats, Wales needed a comprehensive win to restore some faith in coach Graham Henry, and new skipper Scott Quinnell was an inspiration to his side.

Tonga battled bravely, but put themselves under too much pressure with two yellow cards and the sending off of Gus Leger.

Wales made a mixed start, with Iestyn Harris - switched to centre for the match - slotting over two penalties, but also losing Iestyn Thomas and Anthony Sullivan to injury. Rhys Williams and Spencer John came on.

The first try of the game came in the 17th minute after Tonga spilled possession in the centre of the field.

Iestyn Harris gets it in the neck from Siua Taumalolo
Iestyn Harris gets it in the neck from Siua Taumalolo
A good handling move saw prop Darren Morris, who scored his first international try against Argentina last week, appear on the wing and he slipped an overhead pass to Gareth Thomas to stroll over. Harris converted.

Any thoughts Wales had that they would relieve the pressure heaped on coach Graham Henry disappeared when Tonga hit back with a try.

They won a scrappy lineout and skipper Inoke Afaeki charged through several tackles for a try which Hola converted.

The match became disjointed, and Wales couldn't make the most of their possession as opportunities came and went.

It was left to Harris to extend Wales' lead to 19-7 at half-time with two simple penalties, but they wanted a bigger advantage at the interval.

The advantage became numerical straight after the break, with Tongan duo Hola and Afaeki both sent to the sinbin after delaying possession at the bottom of rucks.

Skipper Scott Quinnell goes on the charge
Skipper Scott Quinnell goes on the charge
But Wales struggled to make the most of playing against 13 men, spurning several opportunities before Harris slotted over his fifth penalty.

The try they wanted came in the 57th minute.

A set move involving Robin McBryde, Colin Charvis and Spencer John saw lock Andy Moore give Rob Howley a scoring pass, and the scrum-half sped joyously into the corner.

Bateman hurt his hamstring and was replaced by Jamie Robinson before Stephen Jones almost got Wales' third try. But, after consideration from the video judge, referee Rob Dickson awarded them a scrum which came to nothing.

But their next good position brought them a try.

Rhys Williams tries to field a loose ball
Rhys Williams tries to field a loose ball
A superb kick by Kevin Morgan led to a Tongan lineout which was disrupted and, after Charvis' drive was halted, new skipper Scott Quinnell dived over, with Harris converting to make it 34-7.

With play becoming looser, the crowd started to see some entertainment.

Harris made a couple of good breaks, while the Tongans displayed their capacity for big hits with Quinnell and Gareth Thomas among their victims.

But it was use of the boot that got centre Gus Leger into trouble as he went recklessly into a ruck and referee Dickson had no hesistation in brandishing the red card.

Straight away, Wales took advantage and a superb break from Robinson saw the Cardiff youngster speed over for an unconverted try.

Full-back Taunaholo Taufahema was left grasping thin air by Robinson's pace and the same thing happened five minutes later - this time on the other flank.

It was Rhys Williams who put on the afterburners to sprint clear and Harris hit the post with the conversion.

Wales wrapped things up with a try from replacement hooker Barry Williams and a touchline conversion from Harris, and left the field to cheers instead of the jeers of the last two games.


Wales: Tries: G Thomas, R Howley, S Quinnell, J Robinson, R Williams, B Williams. Pens: I Harris (5). Cons: I Harris (3).

Tonga: Try: I Afaeki. Con: P Hola.


Wales: K Morgan (Swansea); G Thomas (Bridgend), A Bateman (Neath), I Harris (Cardiff), A Sullivan (Cardiff); S Jones (Llanelli), R Howley (Cardiff); I Thomas (Ebbw Vale), R McBryde (Llanelli), D Morris (Swansea), I Gough (Newport), A Moore (Swansea), C Charvis (Swansea), B Sinkinson (Neath), S Quinnell (Llanelli, capt).
Reps: B Williams (Neath), S John (Cardiff), C Wyatt (Llanelli), G Thomas (Bath), D Peel (Llanelli), J Robinson (Cardiff), R Williams (Cardiff).

Tonga: T Taufahema (Caerphilly); T Tiueti (Neath), S Taumalolo (Bridgend), G Leger (Manukau), E Taione (Newcastle); P Hola (West Harbour), S Martens (Swansea); J Pale (Wellington), V Ma'asi (Fasi/Maufanga), T Taumoepeau (Auckland Blues), F Fakaongo (Auckland), V Vaki (Lavengamalie), N Naufahu (Hawkes Bay), M Te Pou (Limerick), I Afeaki (Wellington, capt).
Reps: T Alatini (North Harbour), L Lokotui (Hawkes Bay), S Tui'pulotu (Worcester), S Moimoi (Manukau), T Filisi (Bay of Plenty), A Lutui (Bay of Plenty), C Hala'ufia (Police Blues).

Referee: Rob Dickson (Scotland).

Touch judges: Mark Lawrence (South Africa) and Alain Rolland (Ireland).

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
BBC Sport's Robert Jones reports
"Wales can thank Tonga's indiscipline for this big win"
Wales coach Graham Henry
"We got better as the game went on"
Wales skipper Scott Quinnell
"We cut down the errors from last week"
Links to more Rugby Union stories are at the foot of the page.

 

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