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Last Updated: Sunday, 26 October, 2003, 14:19 GMT
Samoa scared us

By Matt Dawson
England scrum-half

That's what I call a very tight game. But quite honestly we knew Samoa would make us work very hard for everything we got.

A lot of people will assume that we underestimated them, but that is far from the case.

Everyone was very, very tense and apprehensive about the game because we knew what they could pull on us.

We did a lot of work during the week to prepare for the game but, when the opposition play like they did for the first 25 minutes, it's fairly difficult to get into the game.

Iain Balshaw flies in for his try
Balshaw's try was a stunning effort

They simply didn't allow us to get our hands on the ball. I have to admit they played absolutely out of their skins and it was very hard to counter.

Fortunately we finally came good, with our fitness clicking in when required. We made the best of the opportunities we had and made up for the ones that we coughed up.

For Samoa, it was like a cup final. They have two chances to progress to the last eight, once when they faced us and next up when they play South Africa next weekend.

Prior to facing us, they knew all they had to do was win one of those games for a quarter-final spot.

Let's not forget that Samoa have a reputation, and we shouldn't really be surprised at what they are capable of.

But we certainly didn't anticipate them playing as perfect a game in the opening stages. They made no mistakes, kept their discipline and put away their chances. It gave us a scare.

On the other hand, we made a number of errors, mainly because we were under such a lot of pressure. But apart from that, there were plenty of individual mistakes by everybody on the night which was bitterly disappointing.

The good thing, however, is that we can do something about it. Those mistakes can be rectified and it's not something that we will carry through the competition. Everyone will now make a big effort to make amends.

Iain Balshaw's try was an awesome effort - to take the ball on the run at pace was tremendous

It was not necessarily a wake-up call as we did some pretty good things out there. The breakdown was a little bit of a mess and we just gave away too many penalties by doing stupid things.

The referee saw it as it was and that was that. We just accepted it and got on with it.

The rucks were scrappy on both sides and were not controlled very well, and that's something we will have to do work on this week.

The main issues were trying to get the ball and holding onto it. Thankfully when we put some phases together we were pretty solid in the end.

Eventually a lot of people came to the fore, and not just the normal experienced ones like Martin Johnson, Jonny Wilkinson or myself, but people coming off the bench as well.

I thought Iain Balshaw and Mike Tindall played very well. Iain's try was an awesome effort. To take the ball on the run at pace was tremendous.

I had a quiet word with him as he trotted back and said the next few minutes would be crucial and to keep playing the same way and keep focused. He did that brilliantly and we held out for a good win in the end.

Now we have to recover from all the bumps and bruises. It was a very physical game.

We have a rest day on Monday, then we will undoubtedly be doing a lot of work individually before next week's game against Uruguay.

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