Belfast Telegraph

Friday 19 December 2014

Johnson tells England to improve

Martin Johnson
Martin Johnson

Martin Johnson admitted his England side would have to improve significantly to clinch an RBS 6 Nations Grand Slam next weekend against Ireland.

The England manager saw Tom Croft score England's only try as they struggled to a 22-16 victory against Scotland at Twickenham. Victory in Dublin next Saturday would give England their first Grand Slam triumph since 2003 when Johnson was captain, a feat which gave them the impetus to win the World Cup for the first time.

"There are a few battered bodies about. It was a pretty tough game. But it was not a bad game for us to go into next week. When everyone is telling you how good you are it can leak in a little bit. We've got lots to be better at. We'll be in a fight next week. We know we can play a lot better than that," said Johnson.

"Our mistakes kept them in the game. There were too many turnovers. The second half started brighter but we couldn't land the killer blow.

"We had three or four cracking chances to score and couldn't get in. They hassled and harried and fought and got away with a few things at the breakdown. It was a mess at the breakdown which suited them. They knocked us out of our stride a bit.

"But we battled through and we won. It was a good fight. All the guys are pretty flat which is not a bad place when you have won four."

Johnson, however, could be without captain Mike Tindall in Dublin after the centre left the fray at half-time with an injury to his left foot.

He collected the Calcutta Cup from Princess Anne, his future mother-in-law, at the end but left Twickenham in a protective boot and was due to undergo precautionary X-rays.

Johnson said: "We've got to make sure we are a bit smarter the next time we play.

"Scotland came here to fight for their lives and they did. I'd be happier in a way going to Dublin next week off the back of that game rather than scoring a lot of points and having it easy. It focuses everybody's mind."

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