Martin Johnson believes England’s gritty victory over Samoa will stand his side in good stead as they attempt to end their four-year losing streak against South Africa.
England were made to fight all the way before eventually overcoming a physical Samoa 26-13 at Twickenham on Saturday, failing to hit the heights of their scintillating record win over Australia a week earlier.
Yet, Johnson was able to take positives from an attritional display by England, who clinched victory through second half tries from Matt Banahan and Tom Croft, flyhalf Toby Flood adding 16 with the boot.
“I think the guys are a bit disappointed, but that’s Test rugby,” said Johnson. “We ground our way to a win.
“We could have broken them down earlier but we didn’t. We had to keep our composure and keep on playing and it was a good experience for them.
“I think we’ve clearly taken steps. This week was a new experience – not all of it good, but in a sense it is good because things like not finishing, going behind in the second half, are all ultimately good experience.
“We didn’t quite have the finishing touches in the first half to get us ahead but that’s not a bad thing.”
Johnson meanwhile acknowledged England would have to raise their game if they were to have any chance of registering their first win over reigning world champions since 2006 at Twickenham next Saturday.
“We’ve got one big shot at the world champions next week. Everything about us has got to have a little bit more intensity and accuracy,” Johnson said.
“If we’d got that against Samoa we could have scored two or three more but we didn’t.”
After dominating Australia at the breakdown, England found it harder going against the Samoans, who spoiled superbly to frustrate the home side as they attempted to recreate the relentless tempo which accounted for the Wallabies.
England also had less success with quick tap penalties against Samoa than they had against Australia.
At one stage in the second half England passed up a certain three points when the scoreline was finely balanced at 16-8 after scrumhalf Ben Youngs took a quick tap.
Johnson admitted he would have preferred England to have kicked for goal at that stage but said he will continue to encourage his players to be adventurous.
“You’ve got to let these guys play. You can always look back and say ‘Well, We could of…’ but if we’d scored from that quick tap you’d be saying ‘What a great call,’” Johnson said.
“Ben took a quick tap in the second half from in front of the sticks that would have given us an 11-point lead. We went for it and didn’t score from it. But if you score from it, that’s why you pick him.
“Look, when I played, we scored some great tries from me saying ‘tap that penalty’. But the thing is if we do a quick tap we’ve got to be good and we’ve got to finish. And today we didn’t at times.
“But last week we went 60 yards and got scores from it. So it’s a fine line. And to be frank I’d rather the guys play like they did and went for it – and I’ll just pull my hair out.”
This article is courtesy of rugby365.comTweet