Johnson hails "special" win
June 19, 2010
England's Ben Youngs celebrates his side's victory over Australia in Sydney © Getty Images
England manager Martin Johnson hailed his side's historic 21-20 victory over Australia in Sydney as "pretty special".
Johnson's side bounced back from a 27-21 defeat in Perth last weekend and yet another mauling at the hands of their critics to register their first victory in the southern hemisphere since their memorable Rugby World Cup triumph on the same ground in 2003.
England had taken a 15-13 half-time lead with maiden Test tries from scrum-half Ben Youngs and wing Chris Ashton, but the Wallabies hit back with Matt Giteau scoring twice in a 20-point haul. Jonny Wilkinson came off the bench to replace Toby Flood and his 40-metre penalty ultimately sealed the victory, though both he and Giteau missed simple second-half shots at goal.
"I got asked on Tuesday 'is it about time you dominated a Test match in the southern hemisphere?' It doesn't happen very often but if you win one it is pretty special," said Johnson. "We always want to win. The pressure from the outside and the negativity around the team when you are not getting results makes it difficult for the people around you.
"I have said all week I don't worry about my record or my job, I worry about this team getting better. Today we showed we can play. We knew we could, we just had to go and do it. We have still got to be better and more consistent but we have won the Test match.
"A lot of things we didn't do well last week we improved on. Defensively we were sharper and we took our tries early on. We finished our opportunities with Ben and Chris. We kept ourselves in the game when we were behind. We said at half-time the game would come down to work-rate and we stayed in there.
"It was a huge effort for the players to front up in the last game of the season. There has been a lot of negativity around them at times in terms of their ability. They have been mentally tough to come through that and play well."
England had only previously beaten the Wallabies twice on Australian soil and Johnson wants the result to act as a springboard ahead of next year's World Cup.
"We had a chat to the players in the week about what happens at the end of the tour," he said. "The less experienced players need to understand they need to get better and the players need to understand where to improve.
"The team improved from last week and plenty of young players will be better for the experience of the tour and the victory and the defeats, and coming here to play very good teams.
"Ben Youngs is a good example. He played very well today. He is very level-headed. Hopefully he will be thinking 'if I work harder I can be better and we can have days like this again'."
Australia captain Rocky Elsom felt his side did not produce the intensity to match England, who upped their tempo and physicality from last week.
"It is Test match rugby. They are a desperate side and they needed a win and we knew that. Our intensity was not where it should have been. We didn't expect them to be so hard on the ball," said Elsom.
Wallabies coach Robbie Deans added, "Our intensity tapered from last week, most evidently in the defensive line. We didn't force England to work hard enough for the points they scored in the first half. England will be much happier having got the result. It is significant for all parties."