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Johnson wary of dangerous Australia

Martin Johnson warned his players the toughest challenge was yet to come against Australia next weekend after England missed an opportunity of recording a famous victory against New Zealand at Twickenham.

Replacement hooker Dylan Hartley scored a try as England came back from 14-0 down to launch a stirring second-half fightback against the All Blacks. If centre Shontayne Hape had squeezed over in the corner near the end when he should have scored it could have been the perfect start to manager Johnson's World Cup preparations - but England lost 26-16.

The Australians beat the All Blacks 26-24 in Hong Kong last weekend and Johnson admitted: "The Australians are lethal in terms of taking opportunities and spotting space. We know how dangerous they can be. By no means do we think we have got the tough one out of the way. If you get into that trap you will get yourself beaten very quickly."

He added: "It will be a different challenge the way they play.

"The last three (Test matches) we have played we have lost them by 10 points. The middle one we gave ourselves an in and we won it by a point (21-20 v Australia in June).

"It will come and get better with working together. There is pressure but it is not an excuse for the things which weren't good.

"It's a nuts and bolts game, you can have grandiose ideas but it's about passing, tackling, catching.

"If they are winning the weight of the tackles which they did at times that drags a few more defenders in and then you get a bit narrow and lose your line speed. That's the crux of it."

One thing which did please Johnson was the reaction of the players who made the England dressing room feel like the reading room at the British library after the game.

Johnson said: "I didn't want them to be happy with the comeback and happy to be near. If you want to get better you don't go around being satisfied. There were lots of good stuff but let's not pat ourselves on the back, that's what we expect."


From Belfast Telegraph