Johnson wants Twickenham to be fortress again

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The Independent Online

Martin Johnson warned England the time has come to start turning Twickenham into a feared venue once again.

England have lost six of their 13 home Tests since Johnson took charge in the summer of 2008, with their only autumn victories coming against the Pacific Islands and Argentina.



When Johnson was a player and captain, Twickenham was England's fortress. Sir Clive Woodward's side did not lose at home in 22 Tests over four years in the build-up to their 2003 Rugby World Cup triumph.



That aura of invincibility has been lost. Australia will arrive at HQ tomorrow having won on their last two visits and England's recent home record is four defeats in six Tests.



Last weekend, England had the 81,000-strong Twickenham crowd on its feet with a rousing second-half comeback against New Zealand but they had left it too late and the All Blacks won 26-16.



Johnson urged his men to turn the old cabbage patch into a cauldron right from the kick-off tomorrow and catch the Wallabies cold.



"We want teams to come here and not look forward to playing," said Johnson.



"You only do that by performance. It doesn't happen any other way. You have to go and play with intensity and accuracy and make it bloody difficult for them.



"We are expecting a very hard Test match and a tough challenge. We were disappointed with things we did last week but it is good to have that as a reference point.



"We didn't start well enough last week, defensively we compounded errors and suddenly they are scoring. You can fix those things up.



"The guys were realistic last week that they hadn't played well enough for long enough in the game. They had played well in parts but that won't win you a game against teams of this quality.



"Australia are very dangerous. They are very good at spotting opportunities, mismatches, holes on the inside. We have got to be sharper than we were last week.



"We will be better for playing the All Blacks.



"One of the guys yesterday said: If we had done that in Premiership we would have scored but it wasn't good enough.



"It is that recognition from the players that they need to produce 80 minutes of Test match intensity and execution. Everything is about intensity.



"The pace of it is faster, more powerful, there are heavier tackles and you get less time. You have to get into that mode."

Australia's back division is considered by many to be the most lethal in the game, with the likes of Quade Cooper, James O'Connor and Kurtley Beale capable of tearing holes in the tightest defences.



England flanker Tom Croft rates the Wallabies as the team to beat in world rugby now, following their recent victories over New Zealand in Hong Kong and Wales in Cardiff.



Both triumphs came despite Australia's age-old scrummaging deficiencies. The Wallabies are capable of flying in the face of rugby logic by winning without a scrummaging platform.



England failed to recognise that during the first Test of the summer tour Down Under. As they focused everything on dominating the rookie Wallaby scrum, Cooper and company stung them out wide.



England's scrum had the edge on New Zealand last weekend but Johnson insisted his pack would not under-estimate the Wallaby challenge.



Australia's scrum will have been improved by the return to fitness of hooker Stephen Moore, who joins props Benn Robinson and Ben Alexander in a first-choice front row.



England's only change from last weekend's defeat to New Zealand was also at hooker, where the fiery Northampton captain Dylan Hartley has replaced Steve Thompson.



"Scrummaging-wise they didn't have a great game last week but you find often when things haven't gone well for a team that they put a lot of work into it and come back well," said Johnson.



"If we think we will dominate the scrum we will lose that contest. We have to work for every little thing we get. That is Test match rugby, you have to fight for everything.



"You get an edge in international rugby, you don't often get the dominance we had in Perth or what Wales had a little bit last Saturday.



"It is not as simplistic as saying 'we'll stick it up our jumper and keep the ball away from them'. It is not like that any more.



"They will get the ball and we have to handle that. When we get the ball it is about what we do with it."



Last weekend, England did not do enough and wasted opportunities cost them dear. There has been some frank and honest assessment of those blown chances in camp this week.



Shontayne Hape's disallowed try in the closing stages was the clearest example. It took England so long to shovel the ball wide that they blew a three on one overlap and Hape was barged into touch.



Johnson admitted this week that both the All Blacks and the Wallabies would have converted that game-changing opportunity - but he has backed his side to improve.



And despite all the talk being about England's pack against Australia's flair, full-back Ben Foden insisted the red rose attacking threat is not to be under-estimated.



"We all know the quality Australia possess in their backline," said Foden.



"They've got players capable of striking from anywhere on the field but so have we, with guys like Chris Ashton, myself and Shontayne Hape in the centre and Ben Youngs at nine we're all capable of making those 50-metre breaks.



"We need to back ourselves, not hold off Australia, and make sure we get into them.



"We scored some great tries through Ashy and Youngs when we played them in Sydney this summer.



"Ashy has been a try-scoring machine and we're always going to try and score tries.



"We want to score them from all over the park, not just five-metre scrums or pushovers in the corner.



"If the opportunities are there then you bet we're going to take them."

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