Rugby League World Cup

Tonga made hard work beating Wales in St Helens, the Europeans impressing in the 32-6 defeat.

The Tongans are top of Group A after their second win, with Daniel Tupou bagging three tries, but it was far from an impressive performance from the 2017 semi-finalists.

They were pushed all the way by the plucky Dragons, who showed courage and steel at the Totally Wicked Stadium.

It was a nervy start from Wales, with Josh Ralph knocking on in the first minute.

But the Welsh showed great heart and discipline to repel set after set on the try-line.

In the 10th minute, Dalton Grant went close when he was held up over the line.

Wales were catching the eye and frustrating the Tongans with great defence.

Then in the 15th minute, Kyle Evans touched down, after he was put through a gap by Ralph after a turnover.

It was smart play and Matty Fozard converted to put them surprisingly 6-0 in the lead.

Tonga finally hit back five minutes later, when Tupou crossed in the corner after a quick shift to the right off the back of a scrum.

But the Mate Ma’a were still sloppy, Sione bombing a try when he dropped the ball with the line begging.

With four minutes left in the half David Fifita showed his strength when he barged past several defenders to score.

Right before half-time, Keon Koloamatangi touched down off a flat pass as Tonga went into the sheds 16-6 ahead.

In the second half the Mate Ma’a stepped up a gear, with Tesi Nui using his power to force his way over the line.

Tui Lolohea added the extras to make it 22-6.

Wales were tiring, and in the 50th minute, Lolohea danced and stepped his way through to cross.

In the 58th minute, a quick shift from Tonga released Tupou again, and the giant winger scored his second of the night.

Seven minutes later they almost scored a sensational try, with a flick back inside, but it was ruled out by the video referee after the ball grazed the touchline.

In the 70th minute, Tupou brought up his hat-trick with another move to the left wing to wrap up the match.

Tonga 32

Tries: D. Tupou (21), D. Fifita (37), K. Koloamatangi (40), T. Niu (47), D. Tupou (59), D. Tupou (71)

Goals: T. Lolohea (38), T. Lolohea (40), T. Lolohea (49), S. Talakai (73)

Wales 6

Tries: K. Evans (16)

Goals: M. Fozard (18)

John is a freelance journalist who has been writing about rugby league for the past decade. He covered the 2013 and 2017 World Cups, has appeared on TV and radio, and been published in The I-Paper, The Guardian, The Sun, The Mirror, League Express, Inside Sport magazine and Big League. He writes regularly for Forty-20 magazine, League Weekly and co-hosts the podcasts By the Balls and Six To Go.