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Rob Howley wants Wales improvement to go on after record win over South Africa

Published 26/11/2016

Wales coach Rob Howley:
Wales coach Rob Howley: "I thought we were comfortable and were able to stretch South Africa more times than they were able to stretch us."

Rob Howley admits that Wales "need to go to the next level" after completing their autumn Test series with a record 27-13 victory over South Africa in Cardiff.

It was only Wales' third win aganinst the Springboks in 110 years, and came following second-half tries by hooker Ken Owens and flanker Justin Tipuric, while full-back Leigh Halfpenny kicked 17 points.

"I am delighted for the players," Wales' interim head coach Howley said.

"We said back at the hotel if everyone could see the hard work and endeavour and the attitude the players have given in terms of training over the last five weeks, we would win every game.

"The transfer from training, for whatever reason, has not been to the standard that we all expected. That was the challenge today.

"I thought we were comfortable and were able to stretch South Africa more times than they were able to stretch us. There is another level in us - I thought we beat South Africa quite comfortably.

"At 20-6 ahead we didn't make it easy for ourselves. We never have, and never will. That's the challenge, but I am delighted for the players, as they deserved that win today.

"It was in a manner that was comfortable, and we were clinical. We gave a couple of penalties away which sort of put us on the back foot, but the overriding emotion is I am delighted for the players."

It was Wales' best winning return - three victories out of four - in an autumn campaign since 2002, and Howley added: "We came in setting our own goals, looking to better our 70 per cent home record, and we have done that.

"We have beaten South Africa for only the third time by a record margin, but we need to go to the next level.

"We play England and Ireland here in the Six Nations this season - that is what we have spoken about. We will enjoy tonight. It is important you celebrate success and the players deserve that, but then it is back to their day jobs with their clubs next week.

"We showed a lot of patience in our defensive alignment. They (South Africa) certainly came back on hit-backs and caused some issues early on, but thankfully, through good discipline and decision-making, we were able to keep them out."

South Africa's defeat was a record eighth in one calendar year, and South African Rugby Union president Mark Alexander - as he had done following last weekend's defeat against Italy - issued a statement immediately after the game.

"It has been a profoundly disappointing season in terms of results, and we are acutely aware that we have failed to live up to the Springboks' proud heritage," Alexander said.

"We have collectively let down our supporters. I would like to apologise to all our stakeholders for the disappointments we have all suffered this season.

"We are all feeling very raw and let down, and it would be easy to make knee-jerk decisions. But we must resist that.

"We must analyse what have been the main factors contributing to those results before determining what remedies are at our disposal to solve them.

"We will start by speaking to the coach and other team-role players for their assessment and to provide our feedback. But I can assure our supporters and stakeholders that if tough decisions have to be made, we will not shy away from making them.

"Our number one priority is a turnaround strategy for the Springbok team, and that will be looked at immediately and decisively."

Reacting to South Africa's latest defeat, head coach Allister Coetzee said: "First of all, I think it is a very difficult time for us as management, staff and players.

"I think we live in a country where results are important for the national team, and I am definitely not proud about the way the season has gone.

"But maybe in hindsight, if you look at this year, it's not ideal, way below what is expected of the Springbok team - but hopefully the start of a greater time and place to get South African rugby back on track again.

"If you compare the two sides, then there is a marked difference in experience between the Welsh team and the South African side.

"But I can also add that I'm pleased with the youngsters, with certain players, they have really played well.

"Again mistakes cost us, penalties cost us. I think we built some good pressure with the ball in hand, and then let it slip again.

"There are no excuses to soothe the pain that we've experienced this year."

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