Howley urges Wales to go to 'next level' after Bok win

Rob Howley (AFP)
Rob Howley (AFP)

Cardiff - Wales coach Rob Howley said his side "need to go to the next level" after ending their November programme with a 27-13 win over South Africa in Cardiff.

Saturday's success was just Wales's third against the Springboks in 110 years.

Wales hooker Ken Owens and flanker Justin Tipuric both scored second-half tries in a match where fullback Leigh Halfpenny kicked 17 points.

"I am delighted for the players," said interim head coach Howley following Wales's record margin of victory over South Africa.

This result set the seal on a November that started for Wales with a chastening 32-8 defeat by Australia before narrow wins over Argentina and Japan.

"The transfer from training, for whatever reason, has not been to the standard that we all expected," explained Howley, in charge while Warren Gatland takes charge of the British and Irish Lions. "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.

"It was in a manner that was comfortable, and we were clinical."

A return of three wins from four matches represented Wales' best showing in an end-of-year campaign since 2002.

"We came in setting our own goals, looking to better our 70 percent home record, and we have done that," said former Wales and Lions scrumhalf Howley.

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

Next up for Wales is the 2017 Six Nations, with two of the leading contenders both having to visit the Principality Stadium.

"We play England and Ireland here in the Six Nations this season -- that is what we have spoken about," said Howley. "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."

One disappointment for Wales was the sight of back-row forward Dan Lydiate having to go off injured on the stroke of half-time.

"He has got a knee injury -- we will wait to see what the medics have to say but it does not look good at the moment," said Howley.

Wales captain Gethin Jenkins, leading the side in the absence of the injured Sam Warburton, said the best aspect of their November series was the "way we have learnt".

"We have worked on different things, we have been challenging each other to do that in the game," the veteran prop added.

"Today, even though we only scored 27 points I thought a lot of our game, attack especially, was looking a bit better than it has.

"We are improving in that area but have got a long way to go."

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