Wales 19-26 Samoa, Cardiff, November 16
Howley admits Wales 'not up to scratch'
ESPN Staff
November 17, 2012
Wales' Alex Cuthbert reflects on his side's defeat to Samoa, Wales v Samoa, Millennium Stadium, Cardiff, Wales, November 16, 2012
Wales' Alex Cuthbert reflects on his side's defeat to Samoa © PA Photos
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Caretaker boss Rob Howley admitted Wales were simply not good enough in the wake of their shock 26-19 defeat to Samoa in Cardiff on Friday night.

Tries from Fa'atoina Autagavaia, George Pisi and Johnny Leota powered Samoa to a well-deserved victory at the Millennium Stadium where the hosts were once again out-muscled and out-played as they were against Argentina last weekend.

The result leaves Howley's brief tenure in charge and Wales' autumn campaign in tatters with clashes against New Zealand and Australia still to come. Wales are also in real danger of slipping out of the top-eight in the IRB world rankings that could lead to a nightmare pool draw for the 2015 Rugby World Cup next month. A win for Scotland over South Africa on Saturday will drop Wales to ninth.

Howley said: "I have spoken to the players and we are obviously disappointed as a coaching team and group of players. International rugby is about discipline and when we created opportunities in the game, although we did not have many, we were disappointed in terms of our top-three inches at times.

"We were outperformed by a Samoa side whose ability to keep the ball better than us was the most disappointing aspect of the performance. We did not have control of possession or in terms of the contact area and that (performance) is obviously not international standard."

Regular head coach Warren Gatland is set to return to the helm for next week's clash with the All Blacks with the Kiwi facing a huge task to halt the Six Nations champions' demise. But Howley believes the challenge ahead represents an ideal opportunity for Wales to get back on track.

He said: "Over the last 12 months we have been to the World Cup semi-finals and won a Grand Slam. We have had the highs and now we are going through a low. We have to bounce back and rugby gives you an opportunity.

"This group of players have been outstanding in training, but when we cross that white line our skills are not up to scratch of international rugby at this moment in time, but we will keep working hard and keep working smart and we will stick together. We have two good games against New Zealand and Australia to come and it is something to look forward to."

Injuries heaped further woe on Wales with hooker Richard Hibbard, fly-half Dan Biggar (both shoulder) and lock Ian Evans (knee) joining their ever-growing casualty list.

Hibbard was felled by a crunching tackle from the outstanding Taiasina Tu'ifua, in which the Newcastle number eight did not appear to use his arms, and eventually forced off to have his arm put in a sling.

Biggar, meanwhile, was on the end of a reckless challenge from Teofilo Paulo, in which the lock led with his head. Hibbard's replacement Ken Owens was also dragged to ground by the neck by Maurie Fa'asavalu.

Howley said: "Dan and Richard have taken blows to their shoulders. It is not the time to discuss anything, but I don't think they were legal tackles as far as we are concerned having looked at the footage.

"It is disappointing to lose players. Dan and Richard had been given an opportunity and Ian Evans has hurt his knee. But it might give someone an opportunity next week."

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