Johnson looks for improvement

Martin Johnson realises his England team have much work to do before they face Wales next Saturday.

The Poms beat Italy 36-11 but the scoreline flattered the hosts. Four of the five tries were down to Italian mistakes, with only the final Mark Cueto score in the 78th minute down to constructive play from Johnson’s men.

Johnson admitted the team would have to build on this performance, but the victory was vital in trying to create a winning culture as the Poms have now won two out of five under Johnson.

“It is nice to be in a winning changing room,” said Johnson. “The next place we go is Cardiff. It will be volatile and hostile and we need to improve.”

The English mentor admitted his team strayed off the intended plan at times.

“We were sometimes going off-plan and doing things we especially said not to do against this team.

“We didn’t want guys picking and going around the edges against Italy because it is an area they defend best,” he said. 

“When you are trying to execute it just takes one thing to throw it off. Mark Cueto’s try was a good example of execution. If you do lots of little things well you can score a try.

“There are things we need to put right and it is easier doing that when you have come off a game, things are far more relevant.”

Meanwhile Italian coach Nick Mallett shouldered the blame for moving flank Mauro Bergamasco to scrumhalf. Bergamasco’s first half errors directly led to three tries, which effectively killed the game off as a contest.  

“I thought of replacing him after 25 minutes but out of respect I left him on the field,” said Mallett.

“I wanted to see him in that position but he didn’t have much time to prepare – it wasn’t as though there were a lot of other options.

“Our problem is we still have three guys out – I’d like to calmly have a look at it and chat to Mauro, who is very disappointed himself.

“I said it was a very difficult ask to come out in that position – it was a mistake on my behalf.”