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Page last updated at 11:18 GMT, Wednesday, 23 June 2010 12:18 UK

England boss Martin Johnson annoyed by loss to Maori

Hosea Gear
Hosea Gear was in impressive form in Napier

Manager Martin Johnson was left frustrated as his midweek side ended England's five-match summer tour with a 35-28 defeat by the New Zealand Maori.

"It rankles losing that game because there was a definite chance to win it," said Johnson. "I am a bit grumpy.

"There are so many good things to come out of this tour, it was a bit annoying not to finish it off. But ultimately they [the Maori] probably deserved it.

"There were some harsh lessons for some players but that is why we are here."

England led 13-0 inside the first 10 minutes after an early Steffon Armitage try before falling 17-13 behind, but responded with tries from Danny Care and Chris Ashton to take a 28-17 lead at half-time.

The effect of the tour on the team and the wider squad has been absolutely fantastic

Martin Johnson

But the tourists failed to score in the second period as Hosea Gear completed a sensational hat-trick of tries for the Maori to celebrate their centenary in style.

"It's disappointing," Johnson admitted. "These guys have improved game on game and in the first half they did very well.

"But we were not aware enough when they went the length of the field to score [their first try] and we lost a bit of composure in the second half. They were more dangerous in attack and we struggled to convert pressure into points - that really cost us.

"We didn't handle their runners at the start of the second half, and if you concede four tries, you are probably going to lose.

"We probably kicked away too much ball in the second half when we could have backed ourselves a bit more."

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Despite his disappointment at Wednesday's defeat, Johnson was satisfied with an overall tour record showing two wins, one draw and two defeats from five matches.

"If you look at the results we have done OK but the effect of the tour on the team and the wider squad has been absolutely fantastic," added Johnson, who now has more contenders for a revamped elite squad to be announced next month.

"A few people doubted whether it was a good idea to take these midweek games and this extra one [against the Maori] after a two-Test series and a long season.

"But the midweek guys have kept their end up and done a fantastic job. Some guys have really put themselves in contention for the bigger squad."

There are going to be some tough calls...but that's what you want to have

Martin Johnson

As well as youngsters such as Ben Youngs, Chris Ashton, Ben Foden, Dan Cole and Courtney Lawes forcibly asserting their Test credentials, Johnson also took heart from the contributions of others to the second-string side.

Charlie Hodgson "controlled the game" and "showed a lot of maturity," noted Johnson, who also singled out Dan Ward-Smith, Phil Dowson, Chris Robshaw, Dave Attwood, Geoff Parling, Brad Barritt and David Strettle as others who have pressed their claims.

Delon Armitage, who has lost his Test place to Ben Foden, and Danny Care, overshadowed by Ben Youngs' first international start, also responded well with impressive contributions against the Maori.

"There was some real improvement from players and we are in a position where real pressure is being put on," Johnson added.

"There are going to be some tough calls but that's what you want to have. We want to get them right."



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see also
New Zealand Maori 35-28 England
23 Jun 10 |  English
Johnson hails 'special' victory
19 Jun 10 |  English
Australia 20-21 England
19 Jun 10 |  English
New Zealand Maori 31-28 Ireland
18 Jun 10 |  Irish
Youngs & Lawes start for England
17 Jun 10 |  English
Aussie Barbarians 9-15 England
15 Jun 10 |  Rugby Union
Australia 27-17 England
12 Jun 10 |  Rugby Union
England call up Dowson for Fourie
09 Jun 10 |  Rugby Union
Aussie Barbarians 28-28 England
08 Jun 10 |  Rugby Union


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