Wales led 13-0 in the early stages at the Millennium Stadium before the Baa-Baas came back to lead 14-13 at the break. But, even though 16 regular squad members had already departed for Australia to prepare for the first Test with the Wallabies in Brisbane, Wales kept their composure, showed great character and dug deep to overturn a 21-16 deficit in the final 10 minutes.
"It was a Test match and we played like it," was Howley's assessment immediately after the final whistle.
"It's been a huge squad effort this week. The boys have come in, had a couple of training sessions and deserved their win.
"It wasn't pretty - there was a lot of turnover ball and there's things we can work on in Australia - but we've got a little bit of momentum.
"Harry Robinson was outstanding on the wing when he had the ball in time and space; Justin Tipuric was really effective in the contact area; and for Rhodri (Jones) to be on the tight head in his first cap, he had a special day as well.
"We're really looking forward to the challenge in Australia now. It'll be a momentous occasion on Saturday and we'll be making every effort."
Wales take on the Wallabies at the Suncorp Stadium next weekend before facing the Brumbies in Canberra on June 12.
They then head to Melbourne for the second Test against the Tri Nations champions, with Sydney their final destination on June 23.