Johnson: We must be more ruthless
November 9, 2010
Martin Johnson feels his side needs to develop a killer instinct © Getty Images
Martin Johnson has admitted that England can forget about winning next year's World Cup unless they become more adept at turning pressure into points.
Johnson's troops produced a creditable fightback in Saturday's 26-16 defeat by New Zealand but squandered a glorious opportunity to claim a famous win over the All Blacks by failing to capitalise on the sin-binning of Jerome Kaino with nine minutes of normal time remaining at Twickenham.
Indeed, at one point, they blew a three-on-one overlap, with Shontayne Hape forced into touch when a try looked a certainty. It was a prime example of England's lack of a killer instinct, according to Johnson.
"We should have finished it. We didn't execute it well. Would Australia or New Zealand have scored that? They probably would," the World Cup winner said.
"Converting those opportunities into tries is the game. That is the biggest factor. It's an indictment that we were not composed and accurate enough to score the try.
"We are talking about inches but all the way along the line some people could have done their job a little bit better and a couple of people a lot better.
"That is what makes a team that wins the World Cup or a Grand Slam. We are not there."
The challenge for Johnson now is to pick his players back up for this weekend's game against the Wallabies, whom they sensationally defeated during their summer.
"We need to get back to the level of performance we showed in Sydney right from the start," the former Leicester Tigers lock said. "In Sydney we were very quick defensively, we were far more organised which makes you able to be more aggressive.
"We made it too easy for New Zealand at times but the good thing for us is that our standards are higher than that. We have to turn that into a force for good this week and go and do it."
Johnson has made just one change to the side which started against the All Blacks, with Dylan Hartley getting the nod at hooker ahead of Steve Thompson on the back of an impressive cameo as a replacement at the weekend.
"Dylan did very well when he came on. It's not a knock on Thommo," Johnson said. "I thought he forced his way in there with the way he played.
"He's been in great form after he missed the summer tour with injury. He's returned with huge enthusiasm and intensity. His ball carrying is getting better as he gets more experienced. The more experience he can get the better.
"He understands he's got to be a force for good. It's no good being penalised and off the field. He brings confrontational energy which is good."
England will certainly need to disrupt an Australia side which has arrived in London on the back of morale-boosting wins over the All Blacks and Wales and Johnson is particularly wary of the vaunted Wallaby back-line.
"They are very dangerous. We saw that throughout our tour of Australia," he said. "You have to be very sharp. They play with a huge amount of variation, maybe more than the All Blacks. You cannot say 'this is what they are going to do'. They may do something different this week.
"We also need to improve on what we did with the ball last week. We have got to be very smart when they have the ball and we have got to play with real tempo when we have it.
"Then whoever we have in the right place at the right time to take opportunities, they have to do it."
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