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Rob Howley proud of Wales response after tough week

Published 12/11/2016

Alun Wyn Jones, centre, drew praise from Ron Howley on his return to the Wales team
Alun Wyn Jones, centre, drew praise from Ron Howley on his return to the Wales team

Rob Howley hailed his players after Wales put "a tough week" behind them by beating Argentina at the Principality Stadium.

Wales recorded their first victory since March, and ended a run of five successive Test match defeats, by edging out the Pumas 24-20.

Second-half tries from wing Liam Williams and scrum-half Gareth Davies made the difference as Wales bounced back after last weekend's 32-8 drubbing against Australia to kick-start their autumn campaign.

Full-back Leigh Halfpenny kicked four penalties and a conversion, while fly-half Nicolas Sanchez landed two penalties for Argentina and converted tries by centre Juan Martin Hernandez and scrum-half Martin Landajo as the Pumas narrowly fell to a fifth loss in their past six games against Wales.

"From our perspective, it's been a tough week, and to turn around and win against a Rugby Championship side, the players can be very proud and pleased with their victory," Wales' interim head coach Howley said.

"It was a win against a good Argentina team. The players have delivered. They were outstanding in their preparation, and I can't speak highly enough of the leadership group."

Wales had not won since they defeated Italy on the final day of last season's RBS 6 Nations Championship, losing to England at Twickenham before suffering three defeats in New Zealand and then being walloped by the Wallabies last time out.

They are, though, off and running ahead of remaining autumn appointments with Japan and South Africa after a game when the result unquestionably held far more importance than the performance.

"We kept our composure and patience, and we showed a clinical edge in the second half," Howley added.

"It was important we put some pride back into that national jersey.

"I will never question the attitude of our players. For whatever reason, that first-half last week we had never experienced anything like that before, but in fairness to the players this week, they rolled their sleeves up.

"We sat down as coaches, reflected on the performance, and we needed to make changes.

"To win against a side that is above us in the (world) rankings is important, but also, to win at home, which was key for us today.

"We felt in control of the game. It was quite stop-start, but we felt quite comfortable. We were able to control our field position, and we played in the right areas.

"It has been a tough week, and this gives us confidence. We have won against a very good Argentina side."

Howley also saluted man-of-the-match Alun Wyn Jones, who returned to the Wales team following the death of his father and delivered a trademark high-class display.

"He is just a world-class player," Howley said.

"He has an ability to bring players to another level - he is a Test match animal - and to have Alun Wyn and Sam Warburton back in the squad raised our level of performance."

Wales skipper Gethin Jenkins added: "I felt we were in control for most of the game.

"It was all about us, the attitude and reaction this week. We've had our backs against the wall.

"There is massive relief, and the feeling is a hell of a lot different when you come off the field with a win."

Argentina now go on to face Scotland and then England, and their head coach Daniel Hourcade said: "We have to make a step forward after this game.

"Wales had a good game and succeeded in their game-plan, and we have to work hard. Scotland are a solid and tough team, and we need to respond."

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