Johnson rues pedestrian start
November 6, 2010
Hosea Gear skips away from Ben Foden during New Zealand's victory at Twickenham © Getty Images
Martin Johnson was frustrated England once again paid the price for a slow start as New Zealand sealed a 26-16 victory at Twickenham.
The All Blacks raced into a 14-0 lead and they were 17-3 ahead before England staged a rousing second-half comeback on the back of a powerful scrummaging performance. Dylan Hartley drove over for his maiden Test try - the first New Zealand have conceded in Europe since the 2007 Rugby World Cup - and the All Blacks were rattled.
New Zealand finished the match with Jerome Kaino in the sin-bin but they held England at bay, with Shontayne Hape denied by a try-saving tackle by Isaia Toeava. England had left themselves too much to do - just as they did in the first Test of the summer tour against Australia.
Johnson said: "I am encouraged and frustrated. We did lots of good things but we for two weeks we talked about starting well and we were not on the pace from the start. What cost us in the end was an inability to start at the same pace and tempo they did.
"At the end we were far better, we had more conviction in what we did, but that first Test syndrome we have suffered historically was there today. You can't replicate the tempo and physicality of Test rugby in training, much as we'd like to. We were rusty in all areas early on and that is going to hurt you - 14-0 is not a great place to be.
"To get back from that position and give ourselves a good shot was good but it comes down to scoring when you get the opportunities. They got their two and the second was a poor try to concede at this level. We had a good opportunities at the end of the first half and in the second.
"There were a lot of positives out of the game. The players were frustrated afterwards and that is good. I would be disappointed if they were all pleased with their comeback. They know they have got to be better than that."
Ben Foden was held up over the line at the end of the first half and Hape spilled the ball under Toeava's challenge as he stretched for the line in an exciting climax.
Johnson added: "We created more opportunities today than we had done in last the two games combined against this team. They haven't conceded a try in Europe for a couple of years. We probably should have scored another one."
New Zealand had their 15-Test unbeaten run ended by Australia in Hong Kong last weekend and head coach Graham Henry said: "I'm delighted that we won.
"It's always a hard battle at Twickenham. Every time we play here it's a hard slog. They're a good side. There are bits and pieces we can improve on but the bottom line is we had a good win." But All Blacks captain Richie McCaw was more critical of his side for making life difficult for themselves after carving out a comfortable half-time lead.
"We're our own worst enemy at times. A couple of times we had space and just gave the ball back to them and ended up under pressure because of it," he said. "Leading into the last 20 minutes we just kept giving them opportunities. We did defend pretty well. I was pretty happy with the way the guys defended. They showed a lot of heart there.
"I guess there are things to work on on Monday, but, as Graham said, to win at Twickenham is never easy."
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
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