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Saturday, 16 November, 2002, 17:09 GMT
Johnson praises England character
Matt Dawson (in white) in the heart of the action
Matt Dawson was voted man of the match
England captain Martin Johnson paid tribute to the character of his team-mates after they overcame Australia in a thrilling match at Twickenham.

Midway through the second half England trailed 31-19, but fought back superbly to claim a gutsy 32-31 victory.

"We had a disaster either side of half-time, when they scored three tries in about nine minutes," Johnson said. "But we knew we were still in the game.

"We showed a lot of guts and managed to hold them out, though I didn't think the second half was going to end.


We looked out of it at one point, but we showed awesome character
Matt Dawson

"It showed a lot of resilience on our part. We had a shaky moment out there but we came through."

The victory comes just one week after England's thrilling victory over New Zealand and this match was every bit as exciting, if not more so.

And England coach Clive Woodward was every bit as ecstatic as his captain.

"I'm so relieved we won. If we had lost we would have taken a while to come back from it," he said.

"Hats off to Johnno and all the boys because they never panicked, even though we put ourselves in jail.

"We just said calm down. We had 10 minutes of madness which put us in a pretty poor situation. "It was a fantastic Test match and a magnificent spectacle."

Man-of-the-match scrum-half Matt Dawson admitted that the match was one of the most memorable he had ever been involved in.

"It was as good as my debut," he said.

"It was a bit of a blur, I don't remember a lot. we looked a long way away at one point, but it was awesome character.

"I think the leadership of the team came to the fore - and there wasn't that panic.

England win Ben Cohen scored twice
Cohen scored twice for England

"We have a lot of senior players out there, a lot of ex-captains, not just Martin Johnson, and when you've got people like Ben Cohen breaking tackles it's a joy to play behind."

Dawson said beating Australia was a huge boost for the side, although he stressed that England still had work to do.

"This does not take us very far. It takes us to next week and South Africa," he said.

"We need to tighten up. I know Scotland beat South Africa, but if you listened to Australia in the build up to this game, you know that all the southern hemisphere teams want to come and play at Twickenham."

"But we'll enjoy this. It's the first time in my memory I've played in an England side that has come back from two scores down.

"We didn't just come back with kicks, we scored tries and scored them well."

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
England v Australia
Post-match reaction from Twickenham
 NOV 16-17 TESTS
 ENGLAND 32-31 AUS
 SCOTLAND 26-6 SA
 IRELAND 64-17 FIJI
 WALES 32-21 CANADA
 FRANCE 20-20 NZ
 ITALY 6-36 ARGENTINA

Links to more International stories are at the foot of the page.


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