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Autumn internationals: Wales claim hard-fought win over Tonga
Warren Gatland marked his 100th Test with a win as Wales battled their way to a 17-7 victory over Tonga at the Millennium Stadium.
Wales coach Gatland made 11 changes from the team that thrashed Argentina last week and saw his shadow side labour home in the second half.
The hosts grabbed tries through centres Owen Williams and Ashley Beck before William Helu responded in a contest which saw all 24 points scored before the interval.
The result follows a 40-6 win over the Pumas and Wales will now hope to register a marquee victory against Australia in their final autumn encounter.
Wales were forced into a late change when flanker Andrew Coombs was ruled out with a back injury, meaning British & Irish Lions forward Dan Lydiate came into the starting XV.
They made a hesitant start in terms of keeping possession, but they almost went ahead after five minutes when skipper Ryan Jones charged down Tonga scrum-half Taniela Moa's clearance and Lloyd Williams crashed over the line, but he was unable to ground the ball.
Wales, conquerors of Tonga on each of the countries' previous six meetings, burst into life by stinging their opponents with 10 points in two minutes.
Leigh Halfpenny kicked an angled penalty to open Wales' account before they claimed a sparkling try when Owen Williams smashed through three challenges during a 40-metre charge for his first Test touchdown.
Halfpenny added the conversion and Wales were off and running, illustrating firm attacking intent before they struck again nine minutes later.
This time it was Geroge North who made it possible, powering deep into Tonga territory before possession was quickly recycled and Beck crossed wide out after he collected James Hook's floated pass.
Referee Mike Fraser required confirmation from the television match official - as he had done for Williams' score - before awarding the try, and Halfpenny's conversion made it 17-0.
Tonga kept plugging away and got their reward when Gloucester flanker Sione Kalamafoni carried the ball strongly to just outside Wales' 22, and Helu's superb attacking angle allowed him a clear run to the line for a converted score.
Wales almost extended their lead seven minutes after half-time, but 19-year-old debutant Hallam Amos was narrowly denied a try by his right foot being in touch after he collected Halfpenny's pass.
Kalamafoni, though, had been hurt on the other side of the pitch, and while play went on he was tended to by Wales players Justin Tipuric and Ian Evans before medics could help him off the pitch.
Wales thought they had scored 10 minutes from time when North touched down, only to see the try disallowed because lock Luke Charteris illegally blocked an opponent.
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|Saturday 1st November|
|TBC||USA vs New Zealand|
|14:30||Barbarians vs Australia|
|Saturday 8th November|
|14:00||Italy vs Samoa|
|14:30||England vs New Zealand|
|14:30||Wales vs Australia|
|16:45||France vs Fiji|
|17:30||Scotland vs Argentina|
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|Saturday 15th November|
|14:00||Italy vs Argentina|
|14:30||England vs South Africa|
|14:30||Wales vs Fiji|
|17:30||Scotland vs New Zealand|
|20:00||France vs Australia|
|Sunday 16th November|
|14:30||Ireland vs Georgia|
|Saturday 22nd November|
|14:00||Italy vs South Africa|
|14:30||Scotland vs Tonga|
|16:30||Ireland vs Australia|
|17:30||Wales vs New Zealand|
|19:00||England vs Samoa|
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|Saturday 29th November|
|14:30||England vs Australia|
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|Saturday 18th October|
|Australia 28 - 29 New Zealand|
Read the thoughts and opinions of Phil Edwards with skysports.com