Johnson demands more from England
June 8, 2010
England skipper Chris Robshaw feels the force of the Australian Barbarians' defence © Getty Images
England manager Martin Johnson has fired a warning to his side prior to Saturday's Test against Australia, demanding that they sharpen up on their defence or face the consequences.
His dirt-trackers scraped a 28-28 draw with the Australian Barbarians in their first tour game on Tuesday, having trailed 25-13 following James O'Connor's hat-trick, but the former lock called for greater consistency as they prepare to face the Wallabies as well as another midweek game against the Barbarians.
"Both camps see this as a four round fight and it is level after the first round," Johnson said. "We really could and maybe should have won the game at the end with the opportunities we had. Of course, we could have lost it.
"Every part of our game today was good in bits and inconsistent in bits. We did lots of good things but we also compounded a few errors. From our point of view it showed that if we do what we say we will, it will work for us.
"But if we relax and make mistakes, miss tackles, get tight defensively and compound errors then it won't. If you make mistakes at this level you get punished. We gave them too many chances to come back at us. Our defence got too narrow and we paid the price. To concede three tries wasn't great but we scored three as well."
Johnson was pleased with some of his side's work and believes that there is a lot more to come from the midweek side, even if they are unlikely to feature in the Tests.
"Some guys played very, very well for almost a scratch team coming together a week off the plane," he said. "There were lots of real positives. The guys are buzzing with what they can do and how much better they can be. We are looking at squad places and Test places far beyond what happens this Saturday."
In contrast, Australia coach Robbie Deans has a major decision to make about whether to start with O'Connor or Kurtley Beale, who scored twice against Fiji at the weekend.
"He couldn't have done much more," Deans said about O'Connor's 25-point performance. "He had a great game. It's good to have choice. He was assertive in his game. We know he is a talented individual. He served his wings well, he served his team well under the high ball and he created a bit himself."
The Heineken Cup proved once again just why it is the best domestic rugby competition in the world at the weekend and Monday Maul picks out some of the key talking points
The latest Week in Pictures brings you a selection of the best snaps from around the rugby world with scantily clad ladies, O'Driscoll and snow all featuring
"If I miss the first kick of the match, it shouldn't have any impact on the second. They are different entities." Tom Hamilton talks to Northampton Saints' Stephen Myler
It's time for those running Welsh rugby to stop trying to prevent its players heading to France and to start planning a future without them, writes Martin Williamson