Howley hails 'restored pride'

Sun, 13 Nov 2016 08:23

REACTION: Interim coach Rob Howley insists Wales 'restored pride' with their 24-20 victory over Argentina in Cardiff.

The victory came a week after their humiliating 8-32 loss to Australia.

Liam Williams and Gareth Davies scored second-half tries as Wales dominated possession with a rejuvenated display following their heavy home defeat to the Wallabies.

"It has been a tough week so it's important that we celebrate a win," said Howley.

"This game was all about putting some pride back in the national jersey. I never question the attitude of the players.

"Last week's first half display was something we had never experienced before but in fairness, the players rolled up their sleeves, had the right edge and deserve the accolades.

"It was good to get a win against a side above us in the world rankings but more important to win at home because that's where we want to improve our success rate."

Yet it was not until Leigh Halfpenny kicked two late penalties that victory was finally secured after Argentina twice came back to within a point through tries by Juan-Martin Hernandez and Martin Landajo.

However, Wales will care little if this was hardly a convincing display as they claimed their first victory since beating Italy in the Six Nations back in March.

Howley said: "A win gives you confidence that you are doing things right. There are moments in that game that we need to work on and learn from.

"It gives the players a lot of confidence and self-belief going forward because we have won against a very good Argentinian side.

"We spoke about Argentina's off-loading game, how they play loose rugby, attractive rugby and I thought we were able to stop them.

"That's what you need to do when you play against sides who've got a potent threat with the ball in hand. That was a really important point from us going into the game from a defensive aspect."

Captain Gethin Jenkins became the most-capped prop in world rugby on his 133rd Test appearance but it was the return of Sam Warburton and Alun Wyn Jones that made the difference to the Welsh pack.

For Jones, this performance was all the more impressive given he was playing for the first time since the death of his father a fortnight ago.

Howley said: "He is world-class and brings the players around him to another level, even in training.

"To have him and Sam Warburton back in the squad clearly raises our level performance, particularly given what Alun Wyn has been through over the last two weeks.

"The way he and Sam are able to hold players up in the contact area meant we could stop Argentina and get good line-speed in defence."

Wales have moved back ahead of Argentina in the world rankings, back up to sixth, with the Pumas facing Scotland and England in the next two weeks.

Head coach Daniel Hourcade said: "Wales did very well in stopping our game and we were never able to feel comfortable. We kicked too much and when you play the northern hemisphere sides they try to slow the ball and that's what Wales did very well.

"Scotland are very solid with good players and will try to do the same as Wales, so we have to come up with a strategy and come up with new answers."

Agence France-Presse