Johnson demands further improvement
February 12, 2011
Martin Johnson: 'We must play better'
England may have run in eight tries during a hugely impressive 59-13 rout of Italy at Twickenham on Saturday but team manager Martin Johnson still wants more from his players.
Chris Ashton bagged four tries against the Azzurri, while Mark Cueto, Mike Tindall, Danny Care and James Haskell also crossed during England's second successive victory in this year's Six Nations, following last weekend's triumph over Wales in Cardiff.
However, while England appear to be in rude health ahead of the visit of France to Twickenham in a fortnight's time, Johnson believes that there is still room for improvement.
"We can look at what we have done well and what we need to be better at," Johnson said after the demolition of an Italian side which had pushed Ireland all the way in round one.
"We won't get the same amount of opportunities to score - that won't happen - so when the chances are there you need to take them.
"We should make it difficult for Italy when they come to Twickenham and I'm very pleased. For about 20 minutes we did a lot of good things, had try-scoring chances and didn't take them. But we kept on executing and got away from them, which is what you want to do.
"We're not used to having big leads and hopefully it's a problem we can get used to. We got the tempo into the game and get some fatigue in them pretty quickly, but did I think we would get that many? Probably not."
Johnson had said during the week that he had spoken to Ashton about his spectacular swallow dives over the whitewash but the winger did not appear to heed his coach's words as he produced two against the Azzurri. However, Johnson saw the funny side when the issue was brought up in his post-game press conference, joking that he had wanted to sub Ashton for his antics.
"I knew he would do that one at the end - we had no subs left, but I nearly put his number up anyway," he joked. "I told him it would have been an interesting way to end his career! But you are allowed to have fun and he is finisher. He gets in the right places and scores tries - that's what he does."
Nick Mallett: 'Italy were poor'
While Johnson was able to enjoy a laugh or two after the match, Italy coach Nick Mallett was in a far more downbeat mood after what he described as one of the worst days of his coaching career.
"It's a very unhappy dressing room and I'm a very unhappy coach," the South African said. "We didn't expect to play as poorly. England played well, but I think we were to blame for why they had so much of the ball.
"I never thought we would play a game like today after the job we have done for the last two weeks. There were very few scrums, we gave away first-phase ball and once the game broke up there was a lot of speed in the England side. We played very good rugby for two-and-a-half minutes."
When asked if he felt that Ashton is destined to become a "good player", Mallett replied: "I don't think he's going to become a good player - he's already an outstanding player. He has a very good nose for a try and I think he is going to trouble a lot of teams."
Meanwhile, Italy captain Sergio Parisse was just as despondent as his coach after a humbling defeat at Twickenham.
"The only positive is we are going to play Wales in two weeks. There is nothing to say from a game point of view. We were very poor, even from a mental perspective," the No.8 said. "It's very bad to lose by 50 points. We could talk, but the Six Nations go on."
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