RUGBY

Martin Johnson says he expects higher standards from his England team Martin Johnson says he expects higher standards from his England team CREDIT: Rugby World Cup 2011

Johnson pulls no punches after 'sloppy' win

Monday 19 September 2011, 12:48AM
By Rugby World Cup 2011
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DUNEDIN

England manager Martin Johnson did not attempt to hide his annoyance at "sloppy" play from his side in their 41-10 Pool B win over Georgia at Otago Stadium on Sunday.

Six tries gave England a bonus point, and put them level on nine points with Scotland at the top of the group, as they kept up their habit of winning Rugby World Cup matches with under-par performances.

But Johnson, who won RWC 2003 as a player, said England would "go home early" if they did not improve.

In a worrying first-half display, they conceded 11 penalties and surrendered 75 per cent of the territory to the Georgians, who went into the break only seven points down after number 8 Dimitri Basilaia bulldozed over the line on the stroke of half-time.

Johnson had emphasised the positives after the late 13-9 win over Argentina the week before, but was in no mood to do the same in a brutally frank post-match press conference.

"I'm not down, I'm just realistic, a bit annoyed because there were lots of chances for us to do a bit better today," he said.

Relentless conceding

"It just looked a bit sloppy and it just annoyed me because I don't want us to be that kind of team. If we're happy with those standards then we'll go home early, so we've got to be tough with ourselves."

Georgia fly half Merab Kvirikashvili allowed England to get away with a high penalty count as he missed five of his six attempts at the posts, but the relentless conceding of possession left England under pressure.

"You get yourself behind on the penalty count, you get the wrath of the ref a bit. You give one penalty away and it almost leads to the next one," Johnson said.

"If everyone gives one penalty away, that's too many. It makes it difficult to get a foothold in the game."

The ability of England's backs to score tries was an undeniable positive, with Shontayne Hape and Chris Ashton both crossing twice, and Manu Tuilagi and Delon Armitage getting one each.

Fly half Toby Flood converted four conversions out of the six and also notched one penalty, while contributing with adventurous running and sharp passing as he started in place of Jonny Wilkinson.

Aggression and ferocity

New Zealand-born Hape won praise from scrum half Joe Simpson, who came on for Ben Youngs to win his first cap.

"I think he's great in defence, and has outstanding offloads," Simpson said.

"His first was an opportunist (try) and the second was outstanding. His first half was a unbelievably great performance and he would be an asset to any team."

Georgia's Scottish coach Richie Dixon said his team's "ferocity" at the breakdown forced England's errors, but that Georgia had struggled to catch the English backs once they made a break.

"England were surprised by our aggression and ferocity in going past the ball. That's where the penalties occurred," he said.

"I was pleased with the way we dealt with their initial attacks, but it was broken play (where we struggled) because we were so far up in their territory.

"We don't have the gas and they run away the length of the field, which is quite tiring for our guys."