England coach Martin Johnson admitted his side needs big improvement if
they are to beat Ireland in Dublin on Saturday to secure their first
Grand Slam win in eight years.
Johnson’s England are coming off a scrappy 22-16 victory over Scotland at Twickenham on Sunday.
“We know we can play a lot better than that,” Johnson said.
had them on the ropes but we couldn’t quite land the killer blow. They
looked tired and we needed to push them over the edge but couldn’t quite
England captain Mike Tindall, who accepted the Calcutta
Cup from his future mother-in-law Princess Anne, was also disappointed
with the performance.
“Obviously winning the game is the most
important thing but we are not happy with the way we played,” said the
2003 World Cup winning centre.
Tindall meanwhile insisted England would not be distracted by talk a Grand Slam.
“It still won’t be allowed to be discussed,” he said.
second-half try from replacement flanker Tom Croft and 17 points from
the combined boots of Toby Flood and Jonny Wilkinson clinched victory
for England as Scotland’s 28-year losing streak at Twickenham continued.
Scotland’s points came from a late try by wing Max Evans while fullback Chris Paterson added two penalties and a conversion.
Scotland will now be aiming to avoid a wooden spoon against Italy at Murrayfield after their fourth defeat of the championship.
Coach Andy Robinson meanwhile bemoaned his Scotland’s failure to gain the upper hand at the scrum and line-out.
“We had to get control at the set piece and we didn’t,” Robinson said. “Obviously that’s disappointing.”
shapeless first half had ended level at 9-9 as England struggled to
convert their territorial dominance and strength at the scrum into
Paterson had given Scotland the lead early on with his
first penalty before Flood levelled when Scotland prop Allan Jacobsen
went to ground at a scrum.
The penalty was the first of several
Scotland were to concede at the scrum, where both Jacobsen and tighthead
Moray Low came under fierce pressure.
Paterson and Flood swapped
further penalties before yet another infringement at the scrum –
Jacobsen pinged for slipping his binding – resulted in a Flood kicking
England to a 9-6 lead.
But just on half-time Scotland got back on
level terms when fly-half Ruaridh Jackson split the uprights with a
superb drop goal from 30 metres.
England finally regained the
lead midway through the second-half, Flood slotting his fourth penalty
after Scotland were penalised near the posts, an infringement that saw
John Barclay sin-binned.
Scotland needed a last-ditch tackle from
Paterson to deny Foden a try in the corner, and with 15 minutes
remaining Johnson sent on England’s reinforcements, bringing on hooker
Steve Thompson, lock Simon Shaw, Croft and Wilkinson.
blood had the required effect and on 68 minutes, Croft crashed over
after being released by Cueto with what looked like a forward pass.
Wilkinson converted and England appeared poised for victory at 19-9 up.
a clever individual try by Evans, chipping and gathering his own kick,
ensured a nail-biting finale before Wilkinson gave England a five-point
cushion with a nerveless late penalty.