Johnson riled by bitter finish


ENGLAND manager Martin Johnson admitted his frustration after his side twice squandered a healthy lead to end the tour Down Under on a low note.

Johnson’s men stormed into a 13-0 advantage after Steffon Armitage crossed early on, only to be pegged back by two New Zealand Maori tries. Then after further scores from Danny Care and Chris Ashton sent them in at the break 28-17 to the good, they failed to register a single point in the second half as the hosts roared back in Napier.

Maori wing Hosea Gear plundered a hat-trick with Liam Messam also on the scoresheet, as an England side featuring 14 changes failed to build on Saturday’s Test triumph over Australia.

“It rankles losing that game because there was a definite chance to win it,” said Johnson. “I am a bit grumpy. We said international rugby is brutal and at times people didn’t do their jobs well enough in the second half for us to be able to win.

“If you don’t handle their powerful runners you get what we got, which is a couple of tries conceded and a good lead lost. I should be more upbeat about the whole tour but it annoys me to chuck away the game.”

Johnson will name his 32-man elite squad next month and he admitted the tour had been food for thought. “That is what we came for,” he added. “To play at a high level so we could find these things out.”