Autumn international: Japan deserved to beat Wales, says Rob Howley

Media playback is not supported on this device

Last-gasp drop-goal gives Wales narrow win

Wales interim head coach Rob Howley believes Japan should have beaten his side in Cardiff.

Replacement fly-half Sam Davies' last-minute drop-goal clinched a nail-biting 33-30 victory for Wales, but Howley was not impressed with his team.

"It's relief more than frustration, but I thought Japan were the better team today and deserved to win," he said.

"While we came away with a win, it certainly felt like a loss and Japan deserve the accolades they will get."

Wales have now won two matches in a row after their 32-8 hammering by Australia in the opening game of the autumn series on 5 November.

They face South Africa in Cardiff next week, looking to win three autumn games for the first time since 2002 and with the Springboks reeling from a 20-18 defeat by Italy in Florence.

Kenki Fukuoka scores a try for JapanING
Wing Kenki Fukuoka scored Japan's second try against Wales

Howley believes his team will face a wounded animal in Cardiff, and will have to improve considerably after using their "get out of jail card" against Japan.

"I suppose in last two minutes we showed composure and a great drop-goal by Sam Davies but throughout the game we fuelled Japan's enthusiasm and energy," he said.

"Two offloads cost us 14 points when we've had the ball, which is disappointing and we fuelled their counter-attack.

"We picked a really strong team with experience. There were some new combinations in there and when we've made changes on other occasions in the autumn we've come up with this sort of performance sometimes."

Wales opened up an 11-point gap midway through the second half but made mistakes to allow the visitors back into the game - a fact Howley found particularly frustrating.

"After Sam [Warburton] scored there was daylight between the sides but we gave them turnover ball just outside our 22 and they've taken their tries well.

"All three tries they've scored when we had the ball - an offload by Gareth Anscombe, an offload by Liam Williams and a turnover in contact so we fuelled their game.

Wales' Alex Cuthbert shows his frustration
Wing Alex Cuthbert shows his frustration during Wales' narrow win over Japan

"In fairness to them they had the skill the energy and the enthusiasm to and were unfortunate not to win the game."

A great drop-goal

Howley did praise Ospreys fly-half Sam Davies, who came off the bench to win his second cap and won the game with a 30-metre drop-goal.

"I'm delighted for Sam Davies," said Howley.

"I thought he had the opportunity just a couple of minutes before that to go back into the pocket but he chose not to and the way he struck the ball was fantastic.

"It was a great drop-goal by Sam and he deserves the accolades he'll get."

Top Stories