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Six Nations: Johnson seeking French exorcism

England manager Martin Johnson is still haunted by the memories of last year's defeat to France in Paris — and he wants revenge.

Although England's performance that night proved to be a watershed in the development of his young side, Johnson reflects on the 12-10 defeat as the most disappointing of his coaching career.

France celebrated their Grand Slam triumph while Johnson was left fuming at referee Bryce Lawrence and England's wasted opportunity of a victory in Paris.

Twelve months on, England and France will lock horns at Twickenham tomorrow in “Le Crunch” as the only two remaining unbeaten teams in the championship.

“Our guys gave a good account of themselves last year. We got ourselves in a position where we could have won that Test match and we didn't,” Johnson reflected.

“It was a really, really disappointing game to lose. I mean a very, very disappointing game to lose when you think we had done what we did in their stadium, against the Grand Slam champions.

“It was my most disappointing defeat. There were some real disappointing calls that changed the game fundamentally.

“Afterwards, the players are back at their clubs getting ready for the next game. We are sitting there thinking ‘if only'.

“That is the difficult thing for us. Once it is done on Monday morning it is a quiet place. Who says I am over it?”

Lewis Moody, Johnson's captain, failed in his bid to recover from knee ligament damage in time to play France after suffering a recurrence during his comeback game for Bath last weekend.

“He's our captain, we all know what he brings to the team and he's worked really hard to get back, everyone was confident but these things happen, unfortunately,” Johnson said.

“He's disappointed, but we haven't had him so far and the other guys have done a good job, we're fully happy with James (Haskell) and Tom (Wood).”

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