WALES achieved part one of their quest for a summer double by labouring to a 24-6 win against Tonga in the Auckland rain.

Robin McBryde’s tourists took the spoils at Eden Park thanks to a smart Alex Cuthbert score and a late penalty try but will know that much, much better will be needed to topple Samoa on their own patch on Friday.

In some ways it was job done, especially as the conditions were tricky in the second half, but it was an underwhelming first part of a double-header.

Apia is sure to be much more of a Test and Wales will need to be sharper and more cutthroat when opportunities present themselves.

Wales were without 12 Lions – and it is rumoured some of their players may be asked to stay on in New Zealand to bolster Warren Gatland’s midweek side – and opportunity knocked for some who had waited patiently.

Dragons lock Cory Hill led well and got through a mountain of work alongside impressive debutant Seb Davies in the second row while number eight Josh Navidi and hooker Kristian Dacey were abrasive in the pack.

Fly-half Sam Davies was patchy on his first international start, Gareth Anscombe showed some nice touches from full-back while Scott Williams and Steff Evans failed to replicate their Scarlets form, although it turned into a night that wasn’t conducive for expansive rugby.

It will be a game that Dragons back row forward Ollie Griffiths remembers after winning his first cap, although he was only given two minutes and he will hope for a more prominent role in Samoa.

Wales were scrappy and it must be pointed out that Tonga were also without a few big guns – notably livewire Leicester full-back Telusa Veainu, and Gloucester powerhouse back rower – and had very little preparation time for the Test.

McBryde will undoubtedly hail a valuable learning experience but will also know that they will need to be a little bit more than just solid in Samoa.

Wales made a superb start and the TMO was in action in the third minute when wing Alex Cuthbert went for the line down the right only for his elbow to hit the line while he ground the ball under a heavy hit by loosehead Latu Talakai.

Nonetheless, the ‘hosts’ were offside in midfield and fly-half Sam Davies banged over three points.

Two minutes later Cuthbert was denied again after a review of video footage with the winger not only failing to dot down Gareth Anscombe’s cross-kick but suffering a heavy blow to his right shoulder.

Both sides then had penalties for over-physical play, Tonga’s Tane Takulua missing after a ‘seatbelt’ tackle by captain Jamie Roberts and Davies striking the right post after an illegal clearout by Newcastle flanker Nili Latu.

The whistle of Kiwi official Nick Briant was dominating and the Ospreys fly-half, who was showing nice distribution, then repeated the trick by hitting the left stick as it remained 3-0 approaching the second quarter.

But Wales stretched away when a loose Tonga clearance was counter-attacked by full-back Anscombe who moved the ball right for Cuthbert to finish excellently, showing pace and composure with a smart grubber then gather.

Davies missed the tricky touchline conversion and Wales then conceded a sloppy penalty soon after the restart for Newcastle scrum-half Takulua to reduce the deficit to 8-3 after 23 minutes.

That how it stayed as the teams headed for the changing rooms after a half of rather uninspiring Test rugby with the quality failing to hit the heights of Wales’ opening minutes.

There was intent to play from McBryde’s men against a Tonga side that looked there for the taking but they failed to grasp their chances with skills letting them down at key points.

However, it was the men in red that started sharply after the restart with Cory Allen, who replaced Cuthbert at the break, stripped on halfway before flanker Aaron Shingler was forced into a breakdown offence in the 22 that Takulua punished with three points.

With the rain lashing down, the game became slightly more conservative and Wales were given a little more breathing space through the left peg of fly-half Davies with half an hour remaining.

The game came to life with a monstrous tackle by Gloucester full-back David Halaifonua on Allen, correctly deemed legal by the TMO, then a lightning break down the flank by Worcester speedster Cooper Vuna.

Wales stretched beyond a score through Davies and kept a pretty uninspired Tonga at arm’s length before the Osprey added another three when the forwards put the pressure on in the 22 to force a penalty.

Ollie Griffiths came off the bench for a Test debut with two minutes remaining and Wales finished with a flourish, the pack earning a penalty try from a driving lineout to head to Apia with a comprehensive win under their belts.

Tonga: D Halaifonua; N Tuitavake (K Taimani 70), S Piutau (captain), V Tahitua (K Hala 60), C Vuna; L Fosita, T Takulua (L Fukofuka ); L Talakai (S Puafisi 58), P Ngauamo, B Tameifuna (P Kite 56), L Fifita, S Mafi, D Faleafa, N Latu (M Faleafa 74), V Mapapalangi.

Scorers: penalties – T Takulua (2)

Wales: G Anscombe; A Cuthbert (C Allen 40), S Williams (O Williams 58), J Roberts (captain), S Evans; S Davies, G Davies (A Davies 70); N Smith (Wyn Jones 78), K Dacey (R Elias 58), T Francis (D Lewis 78), S Davies, C Hill, A Shingler, T Young (E Jenkins 58), J Navidi (O Griffiths 78).

Scorers: tries – A Cuthbert, penalty; conversion – automatic two points for penalty try; penalties – S Davies (4)

Referee: Nick Briant (New Zealand)