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Martin Johnson hails England grit after Samoa win

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Johnson sees room for England improvement

England manager Martin Johnson believes his side's fightback from 8-6 down to beat Samoa 23-16 at Twickenham showed an improving match-winning instinct.

"I said before that if it takes us 75 minutes to break them down then that's what it takes," he said.

"You keep on playing and go for the breakthrough, which we eventually got."

England beat Australia 35-18 and lost 26-16 to New Zealand in their previous two autumn Tests, and play South Africa in the final match on 27 November

Second-half tries from Matt Banahan and Tom Croft helped England achieve the Rugby Football Union's pre-series target of two victories from the four matches, but only after Paul Williams' score had opened up a two-point lead for Samoa early in second half.

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Johnson insisted that the fragmented nature of the game made it difficult to play the running rugby that put paid to Australia the previous week.

"It was a very different game to last week," he added. "There were a lot of reset scrums, a lot of penalties and lot of bodies around the breakaway.

"It's a good experience for them. Getting quick ball was harder because they committed a lot of bodies and we were not up to speed in that area.

"It was harder to get the ball away, but you've got to deal with it. We could have scored a couple of tries in the first half, but in a way it was a good thing we didn't. I thought we were far more accurate in the second half."

Banahan, who took Mike Tindall's place in one of four changes to the side that beat the Wallabies, was paired with Bath team-mate Shontayne Hape in the centres for the first time at international level.

Banahan joy at try in Samoa win

Johnson believed that the experiment was a success against a robust Samoan backline.

"It is great to have more than one option there. He has proved he can play at 13 as well as on the wing. To have that size, strength and skill at 13 is good," he stated.

Usual captain Lewis Moody was another of England's first-choice stars rested with number eight Nick Easter leading the team in his absence.

The Harlequins man said that there was plenty to improve upon ahead of their meeting with the world champion Springboks, who will come into the match after a 21-17 defeat by Scotland at Murrayfield.

"I was biting my fingernails for a bit in second half there and I'm glad to get the win," he told Sky Sports.

"We have got the result but we were not happy with the performance. We were not as clinical as we wanted to be.

"We found the breakdown very hard today. It really killed us. Our first two guys were not clinical enough and we needed to work out quickly how the ref was going to handle it.

"Good sides can do it. It took us 70 minutes to work it out today but we are learning as a side."

Tom Croft of England

Highlights - England 26 -13 Samoa



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see also
England 26-13 Samoa
20 Nov 10 |  Rugby Union
Autumn internationals as they happened
20 Nov 10 |  Rugby Union
Autumn international photos
20 Nov 10 |  Rugby Union
Giant Banahan handed big chance
19 Nov 10 |  Rugby Union
Banahan braced for centre switch
17 Nov 10 |  Rugby Union
England change four against Samoa
17 Nov 10 |  Rugby Union
Beating Aussies was vital - Foden
14 Nov 10 |  Rugby Union
We must get even better - Johnson
13 Nov 10 |  Rugby Union
England 35-18 Australia
13 Nov 10 |  Rugby Union


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