CARDIFF, March 11 (Reuters) - Wales rugby coach Rob Howley hailed his side’s resilience after they rebounded from back-to-back Six Nations defeats to beat Ireland 22-9 on Friday.
The victory ensured Wales would stay in the top eight of the World Rugby rankings and avoid a potential horror draw for the next World Cup in Japan.
They had lost their previous Six Nations clashes against Scotland and England and were in danger of slipping down the rankings but Howley said they had been determined not to make it three defeats in a row.
”We knew there would be a reaction and against one of the best sides in rugby you have to play like that both with and without the ball,” he said.
“I‘m delighted for the players, they have taken a lot of stick and we beat Ireland emphatically. I thought it was an outstanding performance. We wanted an 80 minute display.”
Howley said his side could have tried to hide after the last two defeats but instead they stood up to be counted.
“We feel we should have beaten England out here,“ he added of last month’s 21-16 loss. ”International rugby is about those fine margins and you can come up short. The players have been outstanding since the Scotland game.
“They have been very honest in their appraisal of the first 15-20 minutes in the second half. They wanted to go out in front of the best supporters in world rugby and give a performance they could be proud of and they certainly did that.
“They deserve a lot of credit for what’s happened over the last couple of weeks. They haven’t got the results in the previous two games but now they deserve everything they get.
”From our point of view, we dug deep when we needed to without the ball and we were clinical when we needed to be without the ball,” Howley added.
Wales conclude their campaign in Paris against France next Saturday. (Reporting by Mark Gleeson, editing by Peter Rutherford)