Rugby World Cup 2011

'We found a way to win'

2011-09-10 15:20
Martin Johnson (AP)

Dunedin - Martin Johnson acclaimed England's "fantastic win" on Saturday after his team fought back against a dominant Argentina to snatch a 13-9 victory in their opening and potentially decisive World Cup Pool B encounter.

A combination of Argentine aggression and English indiscipline kept the Pumas on top for the first hour and but for a host of missed kicks they could have been celebrating a second successive first-game upset following their victory over France in Paris four years ago.

England eventually forced their way into the game and, despite Jonny Wilkinson also having the worst goalkicking night of his career, scored the only try through replacement scrumhalf Ben Youngs and bossed the final 10 minutes.

"It was frustrating but in the circumstances it was a fantastic win," Johnson said after the bruising, ragged match that produced 27 penalties and a yellow card for England prop Dan Cole.

"We could easily have lost that game so it was a good one to win. Clearly we could have dealt with Argentina a lot better and I'd like to look at some of the penalties in detail but when you find yourself in that sort of game it's just about finding a way to win.

"In 2007 France would have bitten your arm off to have won (against Argentina), look at Scotland and France today, they had to work hard, so it's about getting the win."

The introduction of Youngs from the bench early in the second half helped turn England's fortunes and Johnson was delighted with the contribution of a player who had not been on a pitch since May after undergoing knee surgery.

"We got a bit more when Ben was on," he said. "He runs off the side of the ruck well, it gave us some quicker ball and a bit of go-forward.

"I thought if we got tempo and phases we could break them. They were getting tired, but we didn't have enough ball."

Captain Mike Tindall said he was pleased with the way his players stuck to their guns despite being on the wrong side of the Argentine forward onslaught for so long."

"The good thing was that even though nothing seemed to be going right, nobody panicked," he said.

"We stuck to our jobs and as a captain the best thing for me was that everyone kept plugging away."

That included Wilkinson, who missed an extraordinary five of his seven penalty attempts.

"It was just that sort of day," said Tindall. "He kept going at it and eventually got us ahead.

"He said he hit most of them pretty well, only one badly, but wasn't getting the control he normally gets and they just didn't go where he wanted them to go."

Argentina missed a costly six of their nine penalties as both Felipe Contepomi and Martin Rodriguez struggled with their radar.

"In terms of the result it could cost us dear because it's always easier if you win your first game," said Contepomi, who will have an X-ray later on an injury that he said could be cartilage damage or a cracked rib.

"But in terms of performance I think the whole team made a big step forward and I think we can build on this.

"It's a long tournament and we have three games ahead of us when hopefully we can improve our game."


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