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RWC 2003 REACTION – Martin Johnson eyes epic South Africa clash

14 October 2013

  • England skipper happy with fine-tuning exercise against Georgia
  • “There’s a massive game next week. It’s all to play for” – Johnson

England captain Martin Johnson was content with the way his side opened their Rugby World Cup campaign after a convincing 84-6 victory over Georgia, but is well aware that the Springboks will pose a far greater challenge.

Clive Woodward’s charges meet South Africa on Saturday in a Subiaco Oval clash that will surely determine the winners of Pool C.

And while Johnson was grateful for a run-out against the Lelos that was testing at times, he suggested the upcoming contest would be all-important for England’s prospects of securing silverware Down Under.

“They were tough and physical,” said the Leicester Tigers lock. “Fair play to them, they battled all the way through. We didn’t have it all our own way and some areas of our game needed working on – they pressurised us at maul time particularly.

Martin Johnson tries to spoil Georgia possession

Photo: Getty Images

“Not conceding a try was one of the targets and we managed that. Defensively we were pretty sound and we won the game scoring 12 tries. Maybe we were a little bit rusty – no team will have played their best game first thing in the tournament.

“There’s a massive game next week. Us and South Africa won’t have learned too much about each other after the first game but it’s all to play for.”

Georgia coach Claude Saurel, whose side face Samoa next, seemed optimistic despite defeat – preferring to dwell on the positive experience of the one-sided encounter.

“We are disappointed because we would have liked to have done better, but considering our opponents I think we did pretty well,” he explained.

“It was useful to play against such good players and later on, our team will be able to learn from it.”

As we continue our series of Rugby World Cup 2003 highlights and reaction, you can watch the best of the action from England’s second match against South Africa on RFU.com this Friday.