England were ‘sloppy’ against Georgia: Johnson

England manager Martin Johnson has branded his team’s performance against Georgia as “sloppy” and said that if they continue play like that they will “go home early”.


England followed up their 13-9 victory over Argentina with a 41-10 victory over Georgia on Sunday and scored six tries in the match.


However while England comfortably they were not able to put their opposition away in the same way that South Africa brushed Fiji aside and the All Blacks did the same to Japan.


The victory puts England on top of Pool B and on course for the quarter-finals – potentially with France.


But Johnson, who captained England to the 2003 World Cup, was frustrated as, for the second week in a row, his men gave away a slew of penalties.


However, as was the case against Argentina, poor oppostion goalkicking meant England, who ran in six tries compared to last week’s one, escaped full punishment for their indiscipline.


Second row great Johnson made no attempt to hide his frustration following a match where England conceded 11 penalties in the first half alone.


“If we are happy with those standards we will go home early,” Johnson, bidding to lead England to a third successive World Cup final following their defeat in the 2007 climax by South Africa, told reporters.


“I thought again we were way behind the penalty count early on. It’s not good enough and we turned the ball over too much.


“There was over-eagerness on the penalties and we were over-complicated,” said Johnson, who contrasted England’s approach with that of Ireland in their upset 15-6 win over Australia on Saturday.


“As I keep saying rugby is a simple game. We just need to be smarter, be more patient.


“That (the Ireland-Australia match) was an outstanding game. It’s what Test match rugby is all about. You need to hold on to ball and not force the pass and go for the miracle pass. The bigger the game, the more simple it is.


“This game (against Georgia) was a chance to rehearse that.”


“I’m not downbeat, I’m just realistic and a bit annoyed becaused there were loads of chances for us to do a bit better today


“We were sloppy,” added Johnson who refused to blame the “rustiness” of a team showing eight changes for his side’s ill-discipline.


Asked to explain why England had repeatedly fallen foul of South African referee Jonathan Kaplan, one of the world’s leading officials, Johnson said: “If you get yourself behind on the count a bit, it’s only natural you get the wrath of the referee.


“But if you don’t give the first one away, the second doesn’t follow.”


This match saw England captain Lewis Moody, previously out since August with a knee injury, play his first match of the tournament.


Bath flanker Moody, a former Leicester and England team-mate of Johnson, was glad to be back but as angered as the manager by the penalty count.


“It was nice to be back on the pitch but it was a frustrating penalty count,” Moody said.


“We wanted to play some rugby today but we turned the ball over too much. Fair play to the Georgians, we knew they’d be physical. We were a bit naive at the ruck.”


Yet for all England’s unhappiness, they remain unbeaten at this World Cup. It was a very different story at the same stage four years ago where they suffered a humiliating 36-0 thrashing by the Springboks in Paris.


“At the end of day, we can only win the games in front of us,” Moody said ahead of Saturday’s clash against outsiders Romania in Dunedin.


“We are aware as players you can always improve and we forced it too much (against Georgia), but winning is the most important thing.”

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