Kick-off: 0630, 16/06/2017
Stadium: Eden Park
TV: Sky Sports 1
Wales must face Tonga in Auckland without 12 first-choice players due to the British & Irish Lions tour and that could make them vulnerable on the handicap market.
Robin McBryde’s starting XV contains three debutants and there are six more on the bench, so we’re backing the underdogs at 91/100 with 19 points start in our Tonga vs Wales betting tips.
Wasps flanker Thomas Young, Scarlets wing Steff Evans and Cardiff Blues lock Seb Davies are the new boys in the run-on side, which contains plenty of youth.
Wales are rock-solid in the centres, with captain Jamie Roberts and Scott Williams combining in a powerful midfield partnership. However, the overall feel is that there are more fragile areas that Tonga can seek to take advantage of, especially if the game opens up.
Tonga back on upward curve
After a disappointing period playing stagnant rugby, Toutai Kefu appears intent on getting Tonga back to what they do best, keeping the ball alive.
There have been some encouraging results too, with Newcastle scrum-half Tane Takulua landing a last-gasp penalty in November’s come-from-behind 19-17 win over Italy in Padua, a week after the Azzurri had beaten South Africa.
Premiership fans will also be familiar with some other names in the backs, notably Gloucester full-back David Halaifonua, plus wingers Nafi Tuitavake and Cooper Vuna, of Northampton and Worcester respectively.
Bristol centre Siale Piutau will wear the captain’s armband and adds some experience to an exciting squad, along with Newcastle flanker Nili Latu.
Dry conditions and a fast track should allow Tonga to stretch this match and they can make enough inroads going forward to be competitive, as they were when only losing 17-7 against Wales in Cardiff in November 2013.
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