Wales On Sunday - - SPORT -

WAR­REN Gatland hailed Wales’ strength in depth as his side claimed an eighth straight vic­tory by dis­man­tling Tonga in Cardiff. Wales’ win­ning se­quence is their long­est since the 2004-05 sea­son, and vic­tory over South Africa - who edged out Scot­land 26-20 at Mur­ray­field yes­ter­day evening - next week­end would com­plete a first au­tumn Tests clean sweep.

Gatland’s sec­ond string ran in 10 tries and scored 50 sec­ond-half points, and the Wales coach ac­cepts there will be heartache for sev­eral squad mem­bers when it comes to World Cup se­lec­tion next year.

“There were a lot of play­ers out there who did that,” Gatland replied at his post-match press con­fer­ence when asked about who im­pressed him.

“As the game went on a lot of those in­di­vid­u­als got bet­ter and more com­fort­able, es­pe­cially in that sec­ond half.

“There’s def­i­nitely some real ques­tions in terms of pick­ing the (World Cup) squad.

“We’ve got 40 play­ers and you think eight or nine of them are go­ing to miss out on the World Cup squad.

“Some play­ers are very aware of how im­por­tant the next six months are. We’re in a good place at the mo­ment. We’re build­ing nicely and there’s some good com­pe­ti­tion.”

Tonga, beaten on all eight pre­vi­ous en­coun­ters against Wales, gave the hosts a scare by wip­ing out an 18-point lead.

But that was the sig­nal for Wales to cut loose and post their high­est points to­tal since beat­ing Namibia 81-7 dur­ing the 2011 World Cup in New Zealand.

Wales have now beaten Scot­land, Aus­tralia and Tonga this month, and have never com­pleted an au­tumn white­wash since the four-Tests sched­ule was in­tro­duced in 2002.

“We put our­selves in a bit of a hole and dug our­selves out of it in the sec­ond half with some out­stand­ing rugby,” Gatland said.

“We spoke at half-time that in pre­vi­ous games in the au­tumn we have started well against teams and al­lowed them to score points.

“That group of play­ers did a fan­tas­tic job. We knew in Test match rugby some­times it just does not hap­pen.

“It can take 50 or 60 min­utes to wear a side down and we were able to cap­i­talise on that.”

■ Big match spe­cial: Sport on Sun­day

Re­place­ment scrum-half Aled Davies crosses for one of Wales’ 10 tries against Tonga yes­ter­day

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