Johnson draws plenty of positives
November 20, 2010
Matt Banahan embraces Alesana Tuilagi following England's victory © Getty Images
England coach Martin Johnson believes some good lessons were learnt in the hard-fought 26-13 victory over Samoa at Twickenham, even if the match will not be remembered like the record win over Australia a week earlier.
"I said before that if it takes us 75 minutes to break them down then that's what it takes," commented Johnson, whose side trailed 8-6 early in the second-half. "There were more tries disallowed than in any game I've ever been involved in. To concede just after half-time was poor, but composure is the best word for it.
"You keep on playing and go for the breakthrough, which we eventually got."
Matt Banahan's two tries put England in the driving seat and a third from Tom Croft sealed a victory that had to be ground out against a determined Samoa side.
"It was a very different game to last week," said Johnson. "There were a lot of reset scrums, a lot of penalties and lot of bodies around the breakaway. I said at half-time that we had to be far better at the breakdown and I think we adjusted to it pretty well.
"You get a bit frustrated when decisions go against you a little bit and a few of the guys are a bit disappointed, but that's Test rugby and we ground our way to a win. It's a good experience for them. Getting quick ball was harder because they committed a lot of bodies and we were not up to speed in that area.
"It was harder to get the ball away, but you've got to deal with it. We could have scored a couple of tries in the first-half, but in a way it was a good thing we didn't. I thought we were far more accurate in the second-half.
"They are very big and strong guys. There was no surprise in that and we varied our game pretty well."
Johnson drew satisfaction from England's ability to hold their nerve and win a game from a losing position after Paul Williams' try had given Samoa the led.
"The good thing is that we came out of it and got comfortably ahead. Last week you could hardly get your breath and today was stop-start, but it's what a lot of Test matches are and it was a really good game for them to see what it's all about.
"I think we played a team that prides itself on its physicality and ball-carrying and you have to go and experience it. When you go through a long series like this you almost have to put aside what's happened the week before.
"Now we have one big shot at the world champions and everything has got to have a little bit more intensity and accuracy. I think we have clearly taken steps and I think some of them have been pretty big as a group. Not finishing and going behind are all experiences."
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
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
Paul Eddison explains how the French sold English clubs down the river and why their domestic game will go from strength to strength