England must back up Wales win says Johnson

Martin Johnson warned England's players their 30-17 victory over Wales on Saturday will be wasted unless they back it up against Italy in Rome on Valentine's Day.

England ended a run of three straight RBS 6 Nations defeats against the Welsh with a hat-trick of well-taken tries and a performance of determination, defiance and a little good fortune.

Wales had rallied from 20-3 down to within three points when Delon Armitage snatched an interception and Mathew Tait created a second try of the game for James Haskell with a sublime run and pass.

Team manager Johnson felt the manner of England's victory was a significant step forward, especially given the number of times since he took charge that they have fallen agonisingly short.

Last season, for example, England's defeats away to both Wales and ultimate Grand Slam champions Ireland were by a combined total of nine points.

England's players return to training at Pennyhill Park today and they will be greeted with a sober dose of realism from Johnson and his management team.

"It is great they have got the result we have worked so hard for - but if we want to make it into a great win we have to perform next week in Rome," said Johnson.

"I said in the changing room: 'You have to enjoy this, enjoy playing Test rugby. That is what it is there for'. But we will be back in Monday and we start work again."

Johnson knows England are still some way from being the finished article and periods of the game were error-strewn and scrappy.

But there were elements of Saturday's performance that will have encouraged him greatly.

Johnson's chief criticism of England over the last 18 months has been their failure to either see scoring opportunities or their inability to execute them.

On Saturday, Haskell scored his first try after a composed period of intense pressure while his second followed a well-constructed counter-attack.

Danny Care scampered over for the second try just after the interval as England took full advantage of turnover ball secured by Steve Borthwick, the England captain, who also ruled the lineout.

Johnson has always insisted England are moving in the right direction - and now he has something tangible to back up that claim.

"We have been in games when it hasn't gone our way and the talk of small margins sounds very hollow when you lose," said Johnson.

"When you have been 17 points up and it is down to three, teams get tense. You can feel the crowd get tense. It was a nervous situation, we had to find the next score and I thought we took it really well.

"You wouldn't say it at the time but it was probably a good thing we went through that (Wales comeback) because we had to have the wherewithal and the belief to finish the game off.

"Composure is not something you can give players in a box. Going through the experience of being points up early - you could say too early - is something you have to deal with.

"Ultimately we got it done. It was closer than we would have liked but it is part of the process for these guys of understanding how to play."