Martin Johnson: 'That's not a bad way to go into next week. It will focus everyone's minds'

Johnson happy to see England tested ahead of Grand Slam crunch match in Dublin next week

Martin Johnson has been this particular way before but in much grander fashion. Back in March 2003, in his days as England's captain and totem, he disappeared into the Twickenham tunnel with a Calcutta Cup win behind him, four Six Nations wins in total, and with a Grand Slam decider in Dublin to come. He did so on that occasion on the back of a 40-point dismissal of the Scots, featuring a flourish of four tries.

It was different yesterday, although as he reflected on his side's struggle to overcome a cussed, impressively organised Scotland side 22-16, and looked ahead to the final Grand Slam of Ireland at the new Lansdowne Road next Saturday, Johnson had a perverse smile of satisfaction on his furrowed features.

"It's not a bad game for us going into next week," he said, "when everyone's telling you how good you are. It can leak in a little bit. All the guys are pretty flat after the game, which is not a bad place when you've won four. I'm happier going to Dublin next week on the back of that game than scoring a lot of tries and having it too easy. It focuses everyone's mind.

"After we beat France everyone was saying, 'It's easy. You've just got to beat Scotland and Ireland now and you'll win it.' It's never like that. Scotland came here to fight for their lives and they did."

So they did but Andy Robinson's side failed to end Scotland's 28-year wait for a win at Red Rose HQ and will have to beat the Italians, on a high after their win against France in Rome on Saturday, if they are to avoid a whitewash and a wooden spoon.

Robinson, of course, was Clive Woodward's right-hand man when England completed their last Grand Slam in style in Dublin eight years ago, Johnson captaining them to a 42-6 victory that was a statement of intent ahead of the 2003 World Cup.

Whether England can complete a 2011 slam in similar fashion remains to be seen. They managed just the one try yesterday, courtesy of replacement flanker Tom Croft, and it took that score, 12 minutes from time, to get them into the winner's enclosure – with Scotland a man down after the contentious yellow carding of their openside flanker, John Barclay.

It was a victory that came at a cost on the personnel front. Mike Tindall managed to climb the West Stand steps to collect the Calcutta Cup from his future mother-in-law, the Princess Royal, but the captain had to be replaced at half-time. An ankle injury could keep him out of the decider.

"We'll see," Johnson said. "He's in a [medical] boot at the moment. He might have an x-ray. They don't think they'll find anything but they might just do it anyway."

The Scots suffered collateral damage too, No 8 Kelly Brown departing on a stretcher after taking a hit on the face from the shoulder of Tindall's replacement, the human battering ram that is Matt Banahan. "He's walking around now," Robinson reported. "He's started talking – through his nose."

According to Johnson, Scotland "had a yellow card coming" when Barclay was sent to the sin bin after trying to pluck the ball from Danny Care at a ruck, with 57 minutes on the clock and the scores tied at 9-9. "Obviously it was disappointing to lose John at that point," Robinson said. "I've had a good chat with the referee and talked through whether he was allowed to do that with his hand or his foot because a similar incident happened at the other end and Nick Easter kicked the ball out of a ruck."

Reflecting on his return to Twickenham on match duty for the first time since his time as England head coach ended in November 2006, Robinson added: "I'm really disappointed. There was a huge effort put in by the players. It was tremendous the way they went about the game. We've got a tough challenge now against Italy."

Asked whether his team deserved to be whitewashed, Robinson replied: "That can only be decided after our game next week. If you lose all five games, that's what you get."

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
Tim Vine has won the funniest joke award at the Edinburgh Festival 2014
peopleTim Vine, winner of the Funniest Joke of the Fringe award, has nigh-on 200 in his act. So how are they conceived?
News
people
Life and Style
techApp to start sending headlines, TV clips and ads to your phone
Arts and Entertainment
Taylor Swift crawls through the legs of twerking dancers in her 'Shake It Off' music video
musicEarl Sweatshirt thinks so
Life and Style
tech
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

Ferguson: In the heartlands of America, a descent into madness

A descent into madness in America's heartlands

David Usborne arrived in Ferguson, Missouri to be greeted by a scene more redolent of Gaza and Afghanistan
BBC’s filming of raid at Sir Cliff’s home ‘may be result of corruption’

BBC faces corruption allegation over its Sir Cliff police raid coverage

Reporter’s relationship with police under scrutiny as DG is summoned by MPs to explain extensive live broadcast of swoop on singer’s home
Lauded therapist Harley Mille still in limbo as battle to stay in Britain drags on

Lauded therapist still in limbo as battle to stay in Britain drags on

Australian Harley Miller is as frustrated by court delays as she is with the idiosyncrasies of immigration law
Lewis Fry Richardson's weather forecasts changed the world. But could his predictions of war do the same?

Lewis Fry Richardson's weather forecasts changed the world...

But could his predictions of war do the same?
Kate Bush asks fans not to take photos at her London gigs: 'I want to have contact with the audience, not iPhones'

'I want to have contact with the audience, not iPhones'

Kate Bush asks fans not to take photos at her London gigs
Under-35s have rated gardening in their top five favourite leisure activities, but why?

Young at hort

Under-35s have rated gardening in their top five favourite leisure activities. But why are so many people are swapping sweaty clubs for leafy shrubs?
Tim Vine, winner of the Funniest Joke of the Fringe award: 'making a quip as funny as possible is an art'

Beyond a joke

Tim Vine, winner of the Funniest Joke of the Fringe award, has nigh-on 200 in his act. So how are they conceived?
The late Peter O'Toole shines in 'Katherine of Alexandria' despite illness

The late Peter O'Toole shines in 'Katherine of Alexandria' despite illness

Sadly though, the Lawrence of Arabia star is not around to lend his own critique
Wicken Fen in Cambridgeshire: The joy of camping in a wetland nature reserve and sleeping under the stars

A wild night out

Wicken Fen in Cambridgeshire offers a rare chance to camp in a wetland nature reserve
Comic Sans for Cancer exhibition: It’s the font that’s openly ridiculed for its jaunty style, but figures of fun have their fans

Comic Sans for Cancer exhibition

It’s the font that’s openly ridiculed for its jaunty style, but figures of fun have their fans
Besiktas vs Arsenal: Five things we learnt from the Champions League first-leg tie

Besiktas vs Arsenal

Five things we learnt from the Champions League first-leg tie
Rory McIlroy a smash hit on the US talk show circuit

Rory McIlroy a smash hit on the US talk show circuit

As the Northern Irishman prepares for the Barclays, he finds time to appear on TV in the States, where he’s now such a global superstar that he needs no introduction
Boy racer Max Verstappen stays relaxed over step up to Formula One

Boy racer Max Verstappen stays relaxed over step up to F1

The 16-year-old will become the sport’s youngest-ever driver when he makes his debut for Toro Rosso next season
Fear brings the enemies of Isis together at last

Fear brings the enemies of Isis together at last

But belated attempts to unite will be to no avail if the Sunni caliphate remains strong in Syria, says Patrick Cockburn
Charlie Gilmour: 'I wondered if I would end up killing myself in jail'

Charlie Gilmour: 'I wondered if I'd end up killing myself in jail'

Following last week's report on prison suicides, the former inmate asks how much progress we have made in the 50 years since the abolition of capital punishment