Howley bemoans Wales' defensive frailties


Wales coach Rob Howley was left deeply disappointed by his side's first-half performance in their 32-8 defeat at the hands of Australia.

The visitors dominated the opening exchanges in Cardiff, establishing a 20-3 lead at the break and eventually running in five tries to secure a 12th successive victory over the hosts.

Howley praised his side's second-half reaction, which included a Scott Williams try, but admitted that defensively they had struggled to cope with the Australians' high-tempo style. 

"It was very disappointing, very frustrating," he said. "I think territory and possession at one stage was over 80 per cent.

"I thought we grew into the game in the second half. The share of possession was almost 50-50.

"But because of the scoreboard, you start playing rugby a little bit too much.

"I thought we could have been defensively better, particularly structurally. I think we made a few wrong reads and we were staying on the line. But that was down to the speed of ball."

Despite the nature of the defeat, however, Howley insists there were positives to be built upon heading into next weekend's clash with 2015 Rugby World Cup semi-finalists Argentina.

"I saw enough good [things] and enough detail. It's the first game," he added. "It wasn't so much the speed or the intensity, it was just how good the Wallabies were with ball in hand and how effective they were at the breakdown. 

"We managed the yellow card [to Dan Biggar in the first half] really well but, on occasions, that was because they dropped the ball."

To compound a miserable afternoon for Wales, they also lost scrumhalf Rhys Webb to injury in the second half and Howley confirmed that the Ospreys man had picked up an ankle problem.

"It's his ankle," he said. "We're just not sure [exactly what it is]. I don't think it's broken, but the ankle ligaments look as though they've been damaged in some way."