Johnson glad of 'something to work on'

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The Independent Online

Martin Johnson refused to lavish praise on Manu Tuilagi, despite the Samoan-born centre scoring a crucial try on his international debut for England.

"Pretty good," was the guarded comment from the England team manager, regarding the 60 minutes that the 19-year-old spent trying to demolish the Welsh defence. He succeeded once, in the 45th minute, when he slipped between defenders to score after taking Jonny Wilkinson's well-executed pass.

Wilkinson had praised Tuilagi in the build-up and after the match he repeated that he was looking forward to playing with the teenager in the forthcoming World Cup. "I'm just glad he's on our side," Wilkinson said.

Tuilagi was delighted to have scored his try. "It was a great ball from Jonny," he said.

Johnson intends to field a stronger team next Saturday, in the return match at the Millennium Stadium, and he said that both teams had looked a little weary by the end of this game.

"It gives us something to work on next week," Johnson said, before praising how Wilkinson had controlled the match. "He got the goals to keep us going when we lost some momentum and that was a big difference in the end."

Warren Gatland, the Wales head coach, confirmed that the full-back Morgan Stoddart has broken his left leg in two places, following a collision, at a tackle, with the England wing Matt Banahan.

Gatland said he was happy with Wales's performance, though a little frustrated by the number of scoring chances that his team missed in the second half.

"We're pretty happy with that," Gatland said. "We've scored three tries to their two. We've put in a strong second-half performance and we can build on it. We can improve on our accuracy but our first-up tackling was pretty good and it's a good start for us overall."

Gatland praised his captain, the Cardiff Blues flanker Sam Warburton. "He's the best No 7 in the northern hemisphere," he said.