Tonga v Wales, Match Thoughts
Tomorrow morning, 06:30 BST, Wales will be facing Tonga in Auckland, New Zealand in the first of two matches against Tonga and then secondly fellow South Sea Islanders, Samoa.
Wales have selected an untried side for this encounter with a number of the regular starters currently with The British and Irish Lions preparing themselves for the upcoming test series in the same country, so will be interesting to see how this side gel together in this test match.
In the starting fifteen Wales start with three uncapped players in the winger, Steff Evans of the Llanelli Scarlets, flanker, Thomas Young of the London Wasps and lock forward Seb Davies of Cardiff Blues. Evans has been in outstanding form for Pro 12 champions, Llanelli Scarlets and fully deserves a chance on the international stage, similarly with Young, who even in a star-studded side such as London Wasps, has stood out as one of their players of the season. Davies has had little game time with Cardiff Blues with a few niggling injuries this season but has shown signs in his performances of a lock forward with a promising future.
Tonga will be a tough proposition on Friday morning with their non-compromising method playing style and no doubt will be looking to get a scalp on Friday with a victory against Wales with their weakened side, so Jamie Roberts led Welsh side will be in for a tough encounter.
With players such as Scott Williams and Jamie Roberts in partnership in the centre and good half backs in Gareth Davies and Sam Davies, I am hoping Wales can get enough ball to release players such as the resurgent Alex Cuthbert and Steff Evans, I believe Wales have enough ability to cause Tonga problems. The issue is as always, can the forwards get enough possession? Front row is reasonably strong, but the second row is untested in Cory Hill and Seb Davies. Back row is a new combination in Aaron Shingler, Josh Navidi and Thomas Young, which has pace and are all good athletes if a little bit on the small side, so ball carriers who can get over the gain line to give Wales forward momentum will be vital. The bench is a bit of a concern if one of the second rows get injured or tire late on, as with a bench of Ollie Griffiths and Ellis Jenkins would mean that Shingler would have to move up to the second row, so challenging.
However, I can see Wales gaining a hard fought victory in this one, and I am going for a scoreline of Tonga 19 Wales 25.
What are your thoughts?
Team Line Up
15. Gareth Anscombe (Cardiff Blues)
14. Alex Cuthbert (Cardiff Blues)
13. Scott Williams (Llanelli Scarlets)
12. Jamie Roberts © (Harlequins)
11. Steff Evans (Llanelli Scarlets)
10. Sam Davies (Ospreys)
9. Gareth Davies (Llanelli Scarlets)
1. Nicky Smith (Ospreys)
2. Kristian Dacey (Cardiff Blues)
3. Tomas Francis (Exeter Chiefs)
4. Seb Davies (Cardiff Blues)
5. Cory Hill (Newport Gwent Dragons)
6. Aaron Shingler (Llanelli Scarlets)
8. Josh Navidi (Cardiff Blues)
7. Thomas Young (London Wasps)
R Elias, W Jones, D Lewis, O Griffiths, E Jenkins, A Davies, O Williams, C Allen